Do you have employees, or employee advocates?
Every person on your staff has the potential to become an effective brand ambassador. It’s an easy way to reach new audiences, build brand awareness and extend your company’s communication, but it takes a strategic approach to get people on board.
A Nielsen study showed that 84 percent of people trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues over other forms of marketing, so it’s a battle worth fighting.
Here are four ways to expand employee-driven social media advocacy:
1. Don’t block social media.
Your colleagues can’t sing the company’s praises if Twitter and Facebook are blocked, right? Banning social media was a hot HR fad several years ago, but leaders are starting to realize the futility of blocking popular sites. Your workers are interacting online; you might as well use it to your advantage.
Certainly, social media can be a distraction. The average office worker wastes about five hours a week on the job, but this isn’t something you can “block” your way out of.
According to a survey by Microsoft, 46 percent of workers say their productivity has improved because of social media and social tools. Additionally, 37 percent wish their organization’s management would embrace social media tools in the workplace to increase productivity.
2. Have a simple, accessible social media policy.
Employees and new hires should have a clear picture of the company’s social media protocol. Your rules should be in simple language and easily accessible.
Many employees are rightfully nervous about touting their employer online due to possible repercussions or negative attention. If your policies and guidelines are clear, employees are much more likely to participate.
Don’t overdo it with the rules, however. Just give people an idea of what sorts of things are either helpful or harmful.
3. Share how employees benefit from participating.
When your staffers share positive content about the company, they can affect leads, sales, traffic, brand awareness and recruiting. Collect data to show the positive impact that tweets, posts and pictures can make.
Make it clear that increasing social media is good for workers, too. Establishing a publishing presence on popular platforms is an easy way to enhance credibility and build personal networks.
Not every employee wants a higher profile—and that’s fine—but it’s worth it to provide compelling evidence that increasing online connectivity can boost career potential.
This is one tactic that helped Dell get more than 10,000 employees to actively participate in social media campaigns.
4. Offer continued training sessions.
Social media training sessions are a great way to go over goals, policies, best practices and information about upcoming campaigns. It’s helpful to have a forum that allows employees to ask specific questions. Training sessions can also be a fun gathering for building camaraderie, engagement and morale.
Let employees drive the discussion. See which platforms pique their interest, and tailor your sessions around their preferences.
If you have not yet developed an online employee advocacy strategy, now is a great time to do so. With Facebook’s shift to prioritize content from friends and family over brand-focused messaging, getting employees to share company content is more important than ever. Savvy companies should take advantage of the internal social media power that’s just waiting to be unleashed.
A version of this post first ran on Business 2 Community.