There are few phrases, I think, in the office marketer’s vernacular more terrifying. Particularly for larger organizations, scaling a social media presence is, at best difficult, at worse… well, terrifying.
Yet, social media has had a 10-year run of yielding documented results for virtually any business. More than 80% of people engage with at least one business via social media, and many companies rely exclusively on social media for brand awareness and lead generation.
On the flip side, many companies aren’t seeing the results on social media they’d like to see. One reason for this is that many companies don’t harness a powerful asset literally under their employ – their employees.
Employee advocacy is an overlooked social media marketing technique. As detailed in a study from Edelman, people trust your employees more than your CEO, spokesperson, or your official marketing department. Turning your employees into social media advocates can be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for.
Here are 5 less-known tips to promote employee advocacy on social media. Let’s do it.
1) Make a Clear Social Media Policy
Believe it or not, many companies don’t have a lucid social media policy. This is a big mistake because it’s unnerving to your employees. Workers don’t want to break the rules so they end up not posting at all. Your company should have clear and simple guidelines so people can post when they want to.
Here’s an abridged version of the Adidas company guidelines.
- Employees are allowed to post content, but they affirm their opinions are only theirs (and not Adidas’s).
- No sensitive data or internal documents can be shared on social media.
- Copyright laws should be observed when staff members are posting online.
2) Gamify the Process
An old idiom says desert and reward seldom keep company. In other words, people expecting a reward often don’t get a reward. Unfortunately, with many companies current social media policies, this statement is too true.
Advocates who make a big impact for their company often aren’t incentivized. Taking an active role on social media to advocate for your company requires a level of buy-in that has to be incentivized – you can’t rely exclusively on loyalty.
While it sounds cliche, consider making a leaderboard and giving away prizes, you’re encouraging employees to do more. You can give away gifts like time off, donations in their name, or gift cards.
A recent report published by Forbes showed that companies leveraging gamification boosted engagement by nearly 80%, across corporate functions. It’s worth a shot, right?
3) Don’t Force Participation
There’s a huge difference between asking someone to do something and telling someone to do something. Especially on social media, inauthentic advocacy doesn’t work and, if anything, will backfire on you as bad PR. People can sniff out dishonesty in an instant online.
You don’t want robotic, stiff, and unenthusiastic posts on social media. You want workers who are happy to post about your company. Forcing compliance defeats the purpose of employee sharing.
Instead, you should communicate the benefits of social sharing for employees. These benefits go beyond the gifts given away for topping the monthly leaderboard. Employee advocacy can help employees with thought leadership and social media skills, which enhances their skill set, making them more marketable.
Use your company’s audience to grow exposure to your employees advocacy – that reward cycle (for example, of “likes” or “retweets”) will motivate them enough.
4) Ensure the Company’s Social Media Vision Is Explicit
Are our social media efforts paying off? What does the company really want to accomplish with social media? What are some big wins our company has had with social media?
Your employees need to know that social media goals are important to the top brass. After all, if executives don’t care, then why should the employee? One way to increase transparency on social media is by measuring the correct data.
For instance, link clicks on are important on Facebook. Other key stats are things like reach versus impressions, platform engagement, conversions, button clicks, etc. It’s also vital to show employees the trajectory of your social media efforts. Where was the company last month? Where is the company this month? Showing these stats gives employees concrete ideas of what you’re trying to do on social media.
Another cagey tactic is to tie in employee’s efforts with the numbers you’d like to improve. If the data shows employee advocacy has a direct impact on a number you’re trying to improve, then share that with your employees.
Transparency is the name of the game.
5) Promote Open Dialogue and Feedback
We mentioned earlier that the indirect feedback (likes, retweets, etc.) help a reward cycle that keeps employees active in advocating for you online.
On top of that, there needs to be direct feedback. Call out your employees that are doing a great job – signal tweets that are really shining, and encourage other employees to engage with it.
The message here is that in order to scale employee advocacy, you need to establish rigor. Once social media becomes another passive employee function, with goals and rewards, you’ll find engagement that really scales with the size of your company.
Final Thoughts About Active Employees on Social Media
Social media doesn’t just offer a vague benefit to your business. It’s powerful. And it’s certainly not going away.
The bigger your company grows, you’re building an army of people who will (hopefully) gladly advocate for your brand. Engaging that resource will take your inbound lead generation, hiring or general brand awareness efforts to completely new levels.
You just need to make sure that certain structures are in place to make it happen.