Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and share our experiences. Today, nearly everyone has a voice, an opinion, and a means of sharing them instantly with large networks.
This democratization of technology and information has been transformative; however, it has also presented challenges, especially for organizations seeking to maintain control over their brand and public image. When you’re a company with a large workforce active on social media, it’s inevitable company information is going to be shared, for better or for worse.
There is, of course, a risk that some employees will take to social media to complain or disparage their company. But there is also an opportunity for companies to empower certain employees to share company news and information with their personal networks, essentially turning them into advocates for the company. The good news is, there’s actually a good business case for doing so.
According to MSLGroup, employees can reach an audience 10x larger than what a brand could reach through its own earned efforts.
Brand messages are also re-shared 24x more frequently when distributed by an employee rather than by the company itself.
There are a couple of essential steps to take to mitigate risk and get positive results in turning employees into advocates. The first step is to have a well-defined social media policy, accessible to all employees, that outlines the types of company information considered off-limits on employees’ social media accounts. While a social media policy isn’t a fix-all, it does set expectations and defines boundaries; it’s also another opportunity to remind employees about the company’s values and how they play a role in embodying them.
The second step is identify employees that you can empower to share company posts and experiences on their personal social media accounts. Employees who are invested in the company, at the Team Leader, Operations Manager level or higher, that embody your company’s values, and have a good understanding of the company’s mission, culture, and customers make excellent candidates. If you give these model employees the tools, guidelines, content, and support, you can leverage their personality and networks, and turn them into advocates.
Once your advocates have been identified, it’s time to focus on the message. Authenticity is crucial on social media, and you can’t expect employees to share irrelevant corporate information that doesn’t add value to their networks or to their own social standing. They should be comfortable sharing the information, and adding their own personality and commentary to it.
In addition to the content being authentic and relevant to the employee, it should also be in-line with the audience, and the platform the employee is using to share the content. A post on LinkedIn should be very different from a post on Facebook or Snapchat, and that’s largely due to the audience’s expectations of content in each platform. An audience on LinkedIn is focused on work, career, and professional networking; an audience on Facebook or Snapchat is focused on entertainment, news and personal connections.
Develop content that appeals to the audience of each platform by understanding audience mindset and expectations. This will help you add value with every post, and will keep your advocates happy to share with their networks.