How to showcase your employee stories on social media

We spoke with PayPal’s Amanda Coffee about the best ways to increase brand awareness through the power of people in your company.

How can you use social media to tell your employee story?

In today’s world, it’s increasingly important for your organization to spotlight its culture on social media. Whether this means interacting with customers, clients and the general public on Twitter or showcasing work life at your company via LinkedIn, all social media platforms provide different ways for you to show the wider world — including potential talent — what your organization is all about. Ahead of Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference this November, Coffee shared some of her thoughts on how best to tell employee stories through social.

Authentic employee stories are shared from their perspective

Amanda Coffee of PayPal

Amanda Coffee, director, global corporate communications, PayPal

Coffee knows that employees are the lifeblood of any company. With this in mind, she knows that telling the story of PayPal on social media starts with the people that make the company such a great place to work. Alongside this people-first approach, Coffee places emphasis on displaying PayPal’s commitment to diversity and inclusion on social.

“At PayPal, we view our employees as our most important stakeholders. We are working to create a culture that inspires people to do the best work of their careers. Our values (inclusion, innovation, collaboration and wellness) bind us as a community and give direction to our vision and mission as an organization,” Coffee said.

Amanda thinks it’s best to allow employees to share those accounts directly from the employee perspective.

“As a communicator, when we have an external program, we find it’s often most authentic to have our employees tell their stories directly,” she said, explaining how PayPal celebrates an extra day off or ‘Wellness Day’ for employees globally to take time off to recharge.

“Some of our best-performing social media content is employees describing how they spent their wellness day and why it matters to them,” said Coffee. “Our CEO Dan Schulman often says that values need to be more than words up on a wall—they need to be lived.”

Helping employees shape their own narrative

Allowing employees to tell their stories on your social channels helps build an authentic brand voice that shows a true picture of what your company is like on a day-to-day basis and the values you hold.

“When we meet with employees to develop their story, we push them to uncover what we call an ‘a-ha’ or ‘movie moment,’” Coffee said. “What was the point of tension that shaped their world view and what did they learn from it? If your life was a movie what would be the opening scene? That’s what people want to read.”

Coffee recalled a time early in her career when a writer from her high school newspaper reached out to interview her. When the student wrote their first draft after the interview, it focused only on the positives and lacked the tension needed to make it compelling. When they came back for a second conversation, the story focused on how Coffee turned her struggle with dyslexia, an issue that might seem incompatible with a comms professional, into her superpower.

Coffee uses this same approach in her storytelling strategy at PayPal.

“When we profiled an employee who was on “Wheel of Fortune,” we highlighted how her game show savvy emerged when she was bedridden from multiple spinal surgeries and had time to hone her skills in solving puzzles,” she explained

“This summer we had an intern who went back to college in her forties and was able to participate through PayPal’s partnership with the National Association of Black Accountants. The original draft of her intern spotlight almost did not focus on her later-in-life career switch, which is the most compelling part of her story.”

Highlight community to emphasize shared purpose

When you’re looking for employee stories to tell on your social channels, Coffee believes that showcasing employee engagement in their communities is a great way to build awareness of company culture. By showing how employees engage both with their work and their surrounding community, organizations can show through social media that their business cares about much more than just the bottom line.

“We continually identify opportunities for employees to connect with our purpose and support the local communities where we live and work. Employee engagement is a powerful driver of our mission and vision, and we continue to find ways for our employee community to demonstrate and uphold our values,” Coffee said.

Take a holistic approach to posting on different platforms 

Just as important as identifying how to relay your employee story through social is knowing what social channel to use to share it. Does a video on Instagram work best? Perhaps a Twitter thread, or a LinkedIn blog? Coffee thinks that a holistic approach to each post is the best way to determine which platforms will be most successful and that she’s had success with LinkedIn in her time at PayPal.

“LinkedIn has been incredibly powerful for employee stories, given users come to the platform to seek career and workplace trends information” Coffee said, adding that LinkedIn’s “My Company” tab offers every company with a presence on LinkedIn a trusted, employee-only space to help them join conversations that can be curated by the communications team.

“We leverage ‘My Company’ to make it simple for employees to view and engage with the latest content,” she explained. “Additionally, we have a global set of employee ambassadors who are active on LinkedIn and receive a digest on content to share from our employee communications team, driving great engagement on the platform.” Coffee said.

Catch Amanda Coffee speaking about the future of data and analysis during her panel at Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference on 11/2 in New York City. Register today!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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