Let me tell you a story about how a legacy S&P 500 organization learned to love social media.

Last January I went from being a burned out 32-year-old who recently and randomly quit her social media specialist job at a major brand, to a woman empowered to change the social media culture of an entire company as a team of one. The result of this shift was a positive transformation of both the company and myself.

I decided to give social media another chance and see where my experience, passion, and skill set would take me after two years working for a well-oiled social media machine that leveraged a big budget and plenty of resources. I accepted a job at Iron Mountain, a company known for preserving and protecting its customers’ physical and digital assets. Their social media presence was basic, and built mainly from a crisis management perspective.

I knew I was stepping into a completely different scenario as a person that had to make the case for resources and a budget, rather than working with what was already there. Some might find that daunting. I took the “sweat equity” of my last job and put everything I learned into educating and empowering my fellow employees about what can be done when set up for success on social media. That was only made possible by having the most supportive manager of my career, and a group of curious and collaborative co-workers willing to hear me out.

I knew I needed to change the culture when it came to social media, so I started small. I performed a social media audit within a month of being at Iron Mountain. I assessed the social media editorial calendar, the creative, and the strategy to see what was good that I could build on, and what needed to change via education and process improvements. I presented my findings to management, assessed where we were on the social media maturity spectrum, and I suggested short-term and immediate improvements and incremental big improvements with process and resources in place.

The following spring, I turned my social media audit findings into a “lunch and learn” education session for the entire marketing department. If I wanted to change the culture, I had to make everyone understand where we were before I could sell them on where we were going. It took a good dose of authentic enthusiasm on my part to keep the audience engaged, but before too long our employees began understanding how to leverage social media in order to support the business. The conversation shifted from expecting lead generation from a random ad or two, or audience growth from strictly organic social media, to knowing the roadmap to social media success starts with building awareness and “paying to play” in order to amplify while building trust in an authentic manner.

Another way I convinced employees to become excited about social media, while educating them on its value, was rolling out an employee advocacy program. We needed to make employee advocacy easy and governable, so we purchased and trained employees to use a content curation and distribution tool called Bambu. Leveraging influencers, artists, and athletes was how brand promotion beyond the corporate channels worked best at my previous B2C company. But at Iron Mountain, a B2B company, the road to influencing was better and less expensive through leveraging our own employees.

Our employees are the true subject matter experts for their respective lines of businesses. They already have the audiences we’re trying to reach between marketing, sales and leadership. If I were to add up all of their social media channel audiences, it dwarfs our combined corporate channel audience (this is true for many companies in general, not just Iron Mountain). If we wanted to amplify our messaging and build trust with customers, what better way than people the customers already knew? People trust people. They do not trust brands without a lot of time and resources invested by the brand in building that trust.

By establishing an employee advocacy program and getting buy-in for our corporate social media presence, the Iron Mountain enthusiasm for social media spread from marketing, to sales, to other areas of the business – and it’s now finally making its way to leadership. This includes executives and some members of our C-Suite.

By educating and putting resources in place to foster social media maturity, we are working wonders in a short time. Our LinkedIn audience has grown exponentially, with mostly organic growth. We earned more than a million impressions and thousands of engagements using Sprouts’ employee advocacy tool for our advocacy program. Social media is now valued instead of seen as unfamiliar, somewhat useless, and therefore avoided. The culture changed drastically within my first nine months at Iron Mountain and the results speaks for themselves.

The company is not the only part of this situation that changed. If you asked me last January if I am a valuable employee, or meant for a career in social media, I might not have given a confident answer. My co-workers and my manager gave me the freedom to lead and create change from the very beginning of my employment at Iron Mountain. I am now an inspired, empowered employee and a better, happier person. I transformed myself when I changed my company’s social media culture.