When it comes to social media, many companies overlook one of their most important assets: their employees. Employees can be just as valuable to a company on social media as they are in the board room, the office, the manufacturing plant, or store. Social media is simply another space – albeit a digital space – where employees create a positive impact for their company.
Many of your employees are likely on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. What’s more? They’re intimately acquainted with your company’s products, culture and values. They’re already equipped to be the best social ambassadors your company could have.
Below are 5 tips for encouraging your employees to advocate for your brand on social media:
1. Keep it fun
People enjoy social media for one simple reason – because it’s fun. Facebook, Twitter and the rest provide a welcome reprieve from the stresses of both home and work. They’re places to connect with family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and, most importantly, have fun.
In order to make your employees successful social ambassadors, you need to keep social fun. Encourage, but never force, employees to interact with your brand on social platforms. Provide fun contests or incentives, like free coffee or a free lunch for the 1,000th “like.” The moment posting, liking or tweeting becomes a task to complete instead of a fun diversion, your employees’ engagement and effectiveness will diminish.
2. Make it optional
Part of keeping social media fun entails making company-related activities on social media strictly optional. Social media isn’t for everyone, and everyone prefers to use social media in their own way (if at all). Each of your employees maintains the balance between their professional and personal lives differently, and you need to respect that.
Some employees may already use social media prolifically and have no problem promoting the company or liking your photos from their personal accounts. Others, however, may prefer to keep a rigid distinction between their personal and professional lives. These employees must not be forced to use their social media accounts as a platform for the company.
3. Craft a policy
Before employees begin talking about your company online, you should have clear guidelines that delineate what is appropriate and what is inappropriate to share. If employees choose to participate in social campaigns, make sure their profiles adhere to basic professional standards. Prohibit any negative comments, as well as anything that reveals confidential information about the company. When crafting a policy, also focus on positive guidelines, too. Provide examples of good posts and help them find pictures that would be suitable to share.
4. Encourage freedom of expression
Aside from basic guidelines for professionalism and propriety, employees should be allowed a fair amount of freedom. Personal expression is a big part of social media, and employees will be less likely to participate if they feel like their only option is sharing canned, corporate statements. Let them express themselves in their own way, on the platforms they naturally use. They’ll be more likely to participate, and you’ll likely see a greater impact.
5. Return the favor
If your employees are using social media to showcase your company in a positive light, then why not return the favor? When employees reach career milestones, accomplish goals or receive awards, let everyone know about their success on your company’s social media pages. This will go a long way in showing your employees that your company is interested in them – and that social engagement goes both ways.
The secret to getting employees to participate in social media advocacy? Fun. Make it enjoyable for employees to get involved, and let them use social media in the ways that make sense to them. Do that, and you’ll see your social engagement skyrocket – and your social brand improve.