Why and how to give your staffers a distinctive voice on social media

Employee advocacy can be your brand’s greatest asset, but not if your people are just pumping out the corporate line in unison.

Recycling is generally viewed as smart, responsible behavior—except when it occurs on social media.

You’ve seen them, the canned, mass-produced tweets that sound as if they were written by a marketing bot alongside copied-and-pasted Facebook shares filled with corporate jargon and buzzwords.

These updates are sent with the right intentions—to raise awareness of company happenings while displaying a high level of employee support—but the execution is completely wrong.

If all your employees are saying exactly the same things, showing zero personality and operating strictly in brand-speak, your well-intended advocacy and awareness efforts could be backfiring.

The employee advantage

When companies view “employee advocacy” as 500 people retweeting a single message simultaneously, followers will feel they’re getting spammed and employees will feel they aren’t being valued as unique, intelligent members of the team.

Employees like to be themselves, not brand robots. This explains why companies that emphasize individuality on social media see a 47.2 percent boost in employee retention rates and a 26.7 percent drop in turnover.

Want to get your employees involved and active online? Download our free guide: 6 steps to crafting an internal social media plan.

Further, audiences want to be spoken to like human beings, not like homogenous consumer droids. To wit, companies with engaged employees enjoy a 202 percent performance advantage over those that don’t.

Just think about the power in numbers: Employees, as a cumulative group, probably have many more connections than their companies do, leading employee-shared posts to travel 561 percent further than brand-shared posts.

None of this is possible, however, if everyone is mindlessly regurgitating the same bland posts.

Add a spark to your social media efforts

Here are three steps you can take to add a much-needed spark to your company’s social media presence and turn your employees into unique brand advocates:

Create materials worth sharing. If you want your employees to give genuine responses to your content, you must produce something that inspires them. They’re more likely to offer their opinions or engage in discussions with followers if the content relates to their day-to-day lives, stirs the conversation by presenting strong or controversial viewpoints, or instills pride by celebrating one of their major achievements.

Periodically check in with a diverse sampling of your employees to ask their opinions on current events. You’ll be amazed by the great ideas and wise perspectives your people have, and centering your content on these sentiments will surely lead to higher levels of meaningful engagement on social media.

Diversify your voices. Don’t limit your content creation efforts to a small group of authors. Your audience will grow tired of reading the same voices, and your employees will grow tired of having the same people representing them again and again. Instead, invite an ever-changing lineup of people from your team to produce your content.

The most unassuming mid-level managers or sales associates could end up having the best insights and anecdotes that result in your most-talked-about blog post yet. Further, many of your employees probably have aspirations to become leaders. These folks would love an opportunity to begin building their portfolios by having a byline or two on your company’s blog.

Once their pieces go live, these employees (along with their closest colleagues) will feel a much higher level of ownership. They’ll be eager to dive into conversations on social media and show the world that your organization comprises lively and intelligent individuals.

Hone your craft through tech and data. Try building internal excitement about a piece of content before releasing it to the rest of the world. Chinese tech company Lenovo created its own employee advocacy program for this purpose.

Articles are distributed internally first, giving the company’s 60,000 employees an opportunity to share the content they care about most via an external platform. By the time they share it with their followers, they are more informed and can augment the content with their respective points of view.

Not everyone has 60,000 employees or the resources to create a social media platform, but everyone does have the ability to collect data. Analyze the success of mass-produced social posts versus uniquely worded posts to show your employees just how big a difference their creative efforts make.

When they see that their posts, carrying their own voices, are boosting your brand’s positive audience response, they’ll feel motivated to ramp up their involvement. A little hard data will go a long way.

Employees can be your best brand assets, but only if they’re engaged properly. Audiences don’t want to hear sanitized messages coming straight from top-tier execs; they want to read real messages delivered by real people.

That’s why an emphasis on employee individuality is the best way to increase your company’s social media clout.

Russ Fradin is a digital media industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience in the online marketing world. A version of this post first appeared on Spin Sucks.


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