The Blue Kite Blog

10 Steps to Turn Employees into Social Media Advocates

By | August 17, 2015

If you spend any time marketing your brand on social media, you know that it’s getting tougher to reach your audience (especially on Facebook) without paying for it.

That’s why many companies are turning to their employees to share company information on their personal profiles on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.

Encouraging employee advocacy on social media is a no-brainer.

Personal profiles get better reach (especially on Facebook) and it extends the visibility of your brand. And, who better to promote your business than the people who work for you?

The challenge is finding a way to encourage employees to become brand advocates on social channels.

Should Businesses Post Directly to Employee’s Social Channels?

One way companies are trying to solve this issue is through tools and apps.

Last week, I read an article in Entrepreneur about a new social media tool called Choir that allows employers to post directly to their employees’ Facebook profiles.

In other words, this app force-feeds company content onto employee’s personal Facebook profiles. Yes, employees must opt-in to the program first, but the employee doesn’t get to alter or approve the company content before it’s posted on his or her profile.

I’m all for employee advocacy on social media, but I think this takes it a step too far.

It’s a lazy approach by companies that strips out all of the personality of social media sharing.

Not to mention, it’s not a great way to engender support from your team. If the only way to get your employees to share your content is to automatically post it to their profiles, you likely have bigger problems.

How to Encourage Employees to Share Company Content 

encourage-employees-to-share-social-media-content

Your employees are one of your biggest (and often most overlooked) social media assets. Encouraging them to talk about your company on social media is a great idea.

But, you shouldn’t force employees to share social media content.

And on the other end of the spectrum, simply hoping employees will become social media advocates isn’t a great idea either.

If you want to encourage employee advocacy on social media, you need to build a plan for doing this the right way.

Here are some ideas on how to build an employee advocacy program on social media:

1. Be a brand worth talking about.

This likely goes without saying, but if you haven’t built a brand worth talking about, it’s going to be incredibly hard to get your team to enthusiastically share your company content.

2. Help employees understand why it’s important.

Simply asking employees to share your content isn’t enough. They need to understand how their sharing fits into the company’s marketing goals.

If employees can see how they can play a part in the company’s success, they will be more likely to share.

3. Create content that’s worth sharing.

If your business is doing great things, you should have amazing social media content to match. Just make sure that’s the case.

If your content is boring or not relevant to your employees’ friends and colleagues, they won’t want to share it. Make sure your social media content is informative, entertaining and valuable. If it’s not, your employees won’t feel excited to share it.

4. Create a policy.

You have a social media policy, right? If not, it’s time to put one in place.

A social media policy isn’t meant to force feed content or restrict how social networks are used. Instead, it should offer guidelines for how your employees should be behave online. After all, if you want your employees to represent you well online, you need to make sure they know what that looks like.

If you need help, here are some excellent examples of social media policies you can follow.

5. Offer training and resources.

Not everyone in your company may be familiar or comfortable using social media.

Offer a training course, guides or other tools to help equip your team to use social media well. You can also use the training session to explain your company’s social media policy.

Ongoing coaching, training and resources can also be valuable to your team.

6. Encourage individuality.

employee-individuality

Part of the problem with the Choir app is that it doesn’t allow employees to be themselves.

You want to encourage your employees to share content in a way that’s unique to his or her particular style. That’s the kind of content that will get better traction with their friends and colleagues anyway.

Besides, don’t you want to celebrate the diversity of people and ideas in your company?

7. Make it easy to share.  

Although I think the Choir app isn’t the right approach for companies, it is important to make it easy for your team to share your content on social media. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

Encourage them to follow you on social networks. Certainly, this doesn’t guarantee that employees will see or share the content, but it’s an important first step.

Create a content repository. Depending on how your business communicates, you can create a repository of content in shared folders or documents for your employees to share. Or, you can use online collaboration tools such as Trello, Asana or Slack to store ready-to-share content.

Use social advocacy tools. Although I’m not a fan of Choir’s approach, there are there are other employee advocacy tools that make it easy for employees to share content. The difference is that these tools allow the employees to choose what to send. Here are some options:

Distribute messages via text message or email. When we worked with National Pro Fastpitch, we wanted to leverage the star power of their athletes to spread the message about the league’s televised games and promotions. To get the word out quickly about messages we wanted them to share, we sent out weekly emails with ready-to-use social media posts they could share on each channel. We also sent text messages with tweets and Facebook posts they could easily copy and paste from their phones. Because the players were always on the go, this was an excellent way to get the word out about what we wanted them to share. We used a tool called Call Loop for this, but there are plenty of other text messaging services out there that have similar functionality.

8. Involve your team.

involve-your-team-in-social-media-efforts

Want to get your team excited about your social media content? Make them an integral part of it.

Here are some ways to do that:

Show and tag employees. Showcasing photos and videos of your team members is a great way to include them. Just be sure to tag employees so they get notified and have the opportunity to share with their friends.

Share employee content. When a team member posts something interesting, valuable or funny, re-share their content on the company feed. This is especially valuable when the employee shares photos, videos or text updates about your company.

Include them in planning. When building your editorial calendar or brainstorming content ideas, involve different members of your team. Perhaps you can bring in people from different departments during each planning session to offer unique perspectives.

Tap guest curators. Every so often, tap someone outside of your marketing department to man the social media accounts. Handing over the social media keys to new people can help shake up your content and make more of your team feel involved in your efforts.

9. Acknowledge and reward participation.

To encourage your team to share content on social media, it helps to thank and reward your team.

For example, you could offer incentives on the front end to encourage participation. One way to do that would be through a contest that rewards the team member who gets the most engagement their content.

Another option is to simply acknowledge people on the back-end for creating and sharing content. You can highlight social sharers in team meetings and in your internal communication.

The more fun and exciting you make this, the more likely your team will participate.

10. Report success.

Be sure to track your social media efforts and let your entire team know how their participation contributed to the results.

If employees know that their efforts are appreciated, valued and integral to the company’s success, they will be more likely to take part in the effort.

Encourage Employee Sharing on Social Media

By all means, encourage your employees to share your content on social media. Just don’t force them to do it.

Following these steps will produce much greater results.

Would you let YOUR company post directly to your personal profile? What has worked for you to encourage employee social media advocacy? Leave your comments below – I would love to hear what you think!

PS – Need help building an employee social media advocacy program? We can help. Contact us here.

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