Employee Advocacy and Social Media
Social Media Described: A blanket term for an ever-evolving lineup of tools used for communication and networking that allows anyone to join and share their opinions, personal feelings or emotions.
Quite the general description for a group of platforms that dominate everything from social interactions, news and media, politics and, of course, business. These platforms provide an opportunity for business owners to tap into these audiences to promote their product and services with unparalleled demographic information.
Using social media businesses have utilized the tools for:
But where do your employees factor into the equation? Two words… Employee Advocacy.
Employees are the heart, soul and greatest asset of any organization – an engaged, motivated and aligned team is essential to create quality products, sustain high engagement, deliver exceptional customer service and build positive company reputation. If companies put the employee first and invest in them, in return, they will be rewarded by employees becoming fans of the company, delivering better results, and telling others about it.
From a company’s perspective there are benefits behind encouraging employee social media use today:
Encourage employees to share branded content to increase content reach and access new audiences.
Increase employee retention by helping them to develop and build their personal brands.
Encourage employees to create their own content online to increase awareness and drive consideration in the marketplace.
Connect employees with external industry influencers to increase engagement and influence in the marketplace offline and online.
An employee advocate is someone who can drive engagement and grow company awareness through their digital media, social media, or other channels. These advocates have built an audience of followers who trust their opinions.
There is also a huge opportunity for employees to create their own content and increase their overall influence in the marketplace by engaging and building relationships.
Times have changed
Regardless of your market, competition for attention is increasing and providing more options to consumers; content is also in abundance and much easier for people to access.
When employees share content on their personal accounts, their followers and broader community read and share that content on their channels. This content turns employees into market influencers. What happens next… decision makers share the content by email, text message, or they share and influence offline over the phone and even face-to-face. This social activity is called Dark Social as it cannot be tracked easily.
Pulling it all together
Everything is tied together by people and the influence that they have. The main benefits to companies are:
- Increased reach – on average, employees, collectively have 10x the reach compared to company profiles.
- Increased engagement – not only do employees have larger audiences, but those audiences are more engaged. On average, content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared on company channels and is 25x more likely to be re-shared by their audience.
- Increased company awareness – 65% of companies report increased recognition from their employee advocacy program.
- Improved company perception – engaging and associating with industry influencers is a very effective method of changing and shaping company perception.
- Increased trust and confidence – people are much easier to trust than logos. The humanization of your company by your employees will help customers and prospects trust and feel a connection with your company.
- Improved retention – people stay with companies that have a great corporate culture.
- Attract new talent – people want to be a part of companies with a great corporate culture.
It’s important to not force employees to participate in social media promotion. So how do you create a culture where employees want to post about your company?
An easy first step is to provide content that’s easy to share. Content like: sharable posts, press releases or company-sponsored events. This way, if employees wants to post about work, they can easily do so, and the process feels natural and organic.
Teaching employees about how they can impact the company through social media goes a long way too. Coach employees on what works and what doesn’t. Start small – provide helpful tips for how to engage and encourage them to share their knowledge on topics the know or are passionate about.
Creating high-quality profiles on social media helps portray employees and, by extension, your company in the best light. It’s more than having a professional photo and filling in all the profile fields. Employee’s personal profiles should use consistent language to name and describe your company, focus on key marketing messages, and include links to your business’s website and job openings.
Finally, help employees build relevant networks by providing support. Employees should connect with customers, partners, and prospects. These are important connections because they are most likely the ones paying attention to what employees and the company post.
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Obviously, there must be guidelines on expectations. Guidelines about content accuracy as well as expectations around properly representing your organization’s values and brand.
Social media provides a huge opportunity to empower your employees to be a brand champion. Don’t be overly concerned that they’ll do it wrong. You hired them for a reason. Provide them with the tools and guidelines and trust their abilities. Let them be themselves on social media, encourage their growth and empower them.