The Importance of Employee Advocacy on Social Media

For Lawyers, Doctors, and Dentists

Page 1 Solutions -
May 1, 2015

Many employers don't realize how critical social media is to employee engagement and business promotion. In this digital age, every employee is a valuable resource when it comes to free social media promotion. Employees usually have multiple platforms on which they can air their likes and dislikes. While some employers may worry that disgruntled employees will destroy the company reputation with the click of a social media "share" button, the fact is that we now live in an always-connected world that is not going to reverse course. All employers need to be prepared to rally their employee activists and leverage social media in a way that's good for business.

Employees are sharing socially. But sometimes it can be a big task to get them to see that their tweets and Facebook status updates can be used as marketing tools for their company. For many, the divide between work and personal barely exists. For employers, the opportunity and challenge is to embrace this new reality and understand what drives employees to be positive activists. This positive activism is crucial to any social media strategy as it amplifies your message and creates exposure that cannot be generated through your own business page.

What's more, the new changes in Facebook's algorithm create even more large hurdles to jump as far as getting your message out to the right people at the right time.

Today, every employee is a potential spokesperson for their company. It is important for employers to articulate what their company stands for and what you hope customers and clients will get from the company. By being genuine and treating employees well, employers will find that their people are usually more than happy to spread the good word about their company, especially if you show them how.

Here are a 5 tips for getting employees to promote your company's social media efforts:.

1. Craft a social media policy that empowers employees instead of restricts them.

You have a strong social media policy to ensure that your employees do not overstep their boundaries when posting. It is important that this policy be carefully worded so it encourages positive behavior rather than discouraging negative behavior. This will create a safe space for employees to share their concerns before going online. The National Labor Relations Act gives all employees the right to engage in "protected concerted activity for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection." This means employees have the right to discuss their working conditions online, so it is important to craft your policy so it does not prohibit them from doing this.

  • The policy should outline what is considered confidential information and define what kinds of information your employees can and cannot share online. Absolutely spell out if employees need approval before posting certain types of content and define what that content is and make it clear that they will be held responsible for things they publish online
  • It should also discuss the proper way to engage with others online, especially on your business pages. It's important that your employees treat others online in a way they would treat their customers or clients in person.
  • Your policy should also reflect your company culture, who you are as a business and how you want to be portrayed as a business. 

2. Have employees share their stories

Our social media profiles reflect who we are as individuals. When your employees share their stories about their experiences at work, it gives your business a personal feel. Ask employees if they're willing to participate in short, on-camera interviews about their experiences at your company. Encourage them to share social media posts on their own personal profiles about their favorite parts of the company. This is a great way to communicate your company's culture, and those who interact with these shared posts might be more apt to buy your goods or enlist your services because they align with your values.

3. Create a shared folder.

Some employers aren't too keen on giving up the reigns of their social accounts to their employees. If you don't have a social media manager, it's a good idea to create a space where your employees can upload files or stories they have come across that they feel would be good for your social media image. This way, you can moderate and make the final decision of whether that content will be posted or not.

4. Share the love.

Encouraging employees to continually engage in social media is much more than just asking them to post content. It can be a large motivation to share your social "wins" and metric data with them. Update your employees with key growth statistics monthly or quarterly, and remember to thank them for their contributions to your online success. Reciprocate by sharing their "wins" on your organizations social media pages as well!

5. Be clear with your expectations.

It is important to realize that this won't happen overnight. If content your business is posting to social media doesn't reflect who your employees are on their personal profiles, then don't expect it to be shared. If you are having troubles with your employees sharing your content, try to get them to engage with your content in other ways. "Liking" a Facebook post or "Favoriting" a tweet can dramatically help the organic exposure of that post or tweet. If you have a social media manager that posts something that came from an employee on the business page, ask the employee that content came from to share that post on their personal page. They will be much more likely to share something on their own profile when that content originated from them. People are more likely to trust content when it comes from an individual instead of a brand or business. 

Your own results for your business pages won't be spectacular at first, but by having a solid plan and giving it time to grow it's possible to achieve great results. Continually nurture the notion that you want your employees to tell people about who they work for and what their company stands for, as this will resonate with the public more than any promotional post you may make. 

Your business page should reflect the company as a whole. But it should not be too starched and professional. Just be real. Show the real people who make up your business, and let your audience get to know them and laugh with them. As sales expert Kendrick Shope said, "All things being equal, friends buy from friends. All things being unequal, friends buy from friends."

Make your community members feel welcome, understood and heard. If someone comments on a Facebook post that came from an employee, have that employee write a response to it. Have real conversations online, really care about your audience and don't make it a habit to always talk to them - talk WITH them. Post content that will answer your customers questions, entertain and inspire them. Don't post all promotional content as that is considered spam, and no one like spam!

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it in his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, when he referred to the necessity to provide non-promotional material: 

"Without a proper combination of jabs to guide your customer — I mean, your opponent —right where you want him with your right hook could be perfect and your opponent could still dodge it as easily as a piece of dandelion fluff. Precede that perfectly executed right hook with a combination of targeted, strategic jabs, however and you will rarely miss."

Social media is about relationships and connecting people, not about companies and brands. Employees can be a valuable tool in connecting with real people, having conversations with them and potentially leading those people to purchase your goods or services. Employee advocacy is born from culture, not marketing or technology. If your employees aren't your biggest advocates, you have a problem much bigger than social media. 

How do you get your employees to be engaged online? Leave a comment below and let us know your tips and tricks for employee advocacy on social media.

Written by Andrew Wasyluk. Andrew is a social media specialist at Page1Solutions.