Social media is an important part of your business. It gives the world a window into your business's offerings, branding and unique voice.
The most loyal customers can oftentimes become brand ambassadors, preaching what you're selling to the masses. But even better than an outside brand ambassador is an in-house one. Who better to promote the brand to the larger social sphere than the people who work with it daily?
According to Hootsuite, employee advocacy on social media can be incredibly beneficial for organic reach. often exponentially in the case of large companies. Plus, because messages are being shared from personal accounts (rather than the company’s), they generally reach a higher percentage of followers. Content shared by employees also gets eight times more engagement, on average, than content shared by brand channels—and is re-shared 25 times more frequently.
Based on the above, your employees can become your company's biggest promoters. You can encourage your staff to post on behalf of the company from their personal accounts. This sounds like a good idea in theory, but is difficult for many companies to execute well.
"If companies are focused on turning employees into billboards, [employees don't] understand what's in it for them," said Jason Seiden, co-founder of Brand Amper and current head of strategic development at Lever. "Companies don't explain why it's good for employees to promote the company."
While the advantages of positive brand messages on social media is obvious for an employer, employees themselves can benefit on a personal and a professional level from attaching themselves to their company in their social profiles and posts. For example, a CNN anchor looking to speak with a source will likely get the interview simply by introducing him- or herself by title because the brand is well-known and respected, Seidan said.
"Let the company's brand do its work for you," he told Business News Daily. "You don't even have to brag [when making a professional request]. You look good by association."
This is the case Seiden advised employers to make to their staff about being engaged with the company on social media, but he also noted that you have to let employees decide for themselves whether they want to be involved.
Opting into social
If your employees choose to participate in sharing via social media, Seiden offered a few best practices for getting authentic engagement from them.
Create guidelines, not prescriptive policies. When crafting an employee social media policy, many employers take a "what not to do" approach and instruct employees to avoid certain practices in discussing the company in their social posts. Instead, Seiden recommended giving general guidelines and showing employees examples of successful profiles to model theirs after.
Allow for flexibility and freedom of expression. A big mistake companies make when trying to engage their employees in social brand conversations is dictating cut-and-paste bios or phrases that staff members should use in their posts and profiles. Seiden noted that employees need to be allowed to speak in their own voice if you want genuine, positive engagement. Refer to your guidelines and help employees craft their own personal brand messages, rather than telling them what to say.
Be mindful of employees' feelings toward mixing personal and professional. Some employees have no problem blurring the line between personal and professional on social media, but others may feel uncomfortable crossing that line between work and play in a public forum.
"Organizations should make [social media engagement] opt-in," Seiden said. "Leave it in the employee's hands to decide."
Employees may have a desire to keep these worlds separate. It's appropriate to ask, but not force employees' hands to post.
"It may be technically easy [to post about your company], but there's an emotional challenge that goes along with it. Make sure you have an appreciation for that when coming up with guidelines," Seiden said.
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.