Want your company to get better new recruits, generate lots of positive word-of-mouth and increase sales? Well, there isn’t a magic pill that can make all this happen, but there is something that you have, right now, at your fingertips that can get you there: your employees.
What is employee advocacy?
Employee advocacy is empowering your employees to take to public forums – like Twitter – and become brand ambassadors. Employees have the potential to increase brand exposure and positive sentiment if they are encouraged to tweet about their experiences at your company.
By tweeting about your brand, your employees can illuminate your corporate culture, success stories, training and achievements, and the human side of your business.
How to unlock your employees on Twitter
Twitter is the perfect venue to encourage your employees to talk about your company. All tweets are public, and easily amplified across audience segments – making it ideal for employee messages to reach potential customers.
When launching an employee advocacy campaign, be sure to start with the basics: the why and how.
Let your employees know that you want them to share positive stories about their work experiences through their personal Twitter accounts (if they’re comfortable doing so). If you have any guidelines – such as not showcasing a product before it is released or staying away from certain political topics – be sure to make those clear.
Ultimately, the goal should be to let your employees be themselves on Twitter, while sharing what they love about working at your company.
You may have some employees that do not have a Twitter account, but who want to participate. Help them get started by running Twitter clinics, bringing in an expert to train them on the basic functionality and etiquette of the network.
As you’re building out your employee advocacy program, you might begin to notice one or two employees who are extremely committed to the idea. It can be very effective to choose one to be the informal “leader” or internal champion. This employee’s enthusiasm will rub off on her colleagues, and help ensure the success of the program.
Ideas for employee advocacy campaigns
Your employees might want to tweet freely about your brand, but sometimes they’ll need a bit of a nudge in the right direction. Here are some things you can suggest to them to get the ball rolling:
Behind-the-scenes photos of an interesting meeting or conference
Company-wide events like luncheons, pub night or training
Photos from community or charity events they participate in outside of work hours
A few minutes on Twitter or a short Facebook break helps employees clear heads, reduce fatigue and boost mood.
After all, your employees’ happiness can hugely affect your brand’s social success. Some of the top companies to work for are also some of the most successful companies in social media.
Another important reason is that people are more likely to engage with individuals than brands, so your social media success increasingly relies on your employees’ interactions.
Research has shown that 92% of Americans trust recommendations from family and friends but only 47% trust advertising from companies.
In fact, 41% of Americans believe that employees are more honest and truthful than the PR department or the CEO of a company.
In addition, your employees have 10 times more social connections than your brand does.
Some of your employees might have a larger online reach and influence than your own CEO, perhaps even more than your own brand! Imagine how many more eyes you could have on your brand’s content if it was shared by your employees, not just on your owned social media channels!
How to get started
Would you like to involve your employees in your social media efforts? Here are ten top tips to help you get started.
1)Set your goals for your employee advocacy program. How you will create value for the business? What are you aiming to achieve?
2)Establish advocacy program metrics to measure success. Is it more leads, traffic, reach, positive mentions, share of voice, sales or social connections you’re after? Like any other social media activity, these metrics will help you understand whether it is working or not.
3)Make sure company leadership is on board with your social strategy. Only company cultures rooted in trust do employee advocacy well.
4)Identifyyour socially active champions in the company.
Select the people who are excited to get involved. If this sounds like an unfeasible task for your middle sized or large enterprise, use social listening tools to analyze and identify your most influential and social active employees.
5)Take note of your industry and the company culture.
What’s being shared, liked, retweeted, clicked on the most by your stakeholders? What type of content resonates most with your communities online?
6) Manage the community and provide ongoing support.
Balance employees’ urge for social sharing with clear guidelines to help them understand what is acceptable and favorable to share, and what’s not.
For example, IBM’s social media policy contains some clear cut guidelines regarding how the company communicates. IBM also encourages staff to express themselves, let their voice shine and demonstrate their creativity and skills on social media.
7)Make sharing easy.
Send your employees interesting social media updates via internal forums (like Yammer, Slack, Addvocate, etc.) to encourage sharing on their personal accounts. This will help increase your reach and align employees with your company’s social media strategy.
8) Provide trainingto communicate the company’s vision and represent the company well.
For instance, 58% of Dell employees in the social media certification program engage in social media weekly on behalf of Dell. Their program is successful in that employees share 6 times more Dell information on their personal accounts than on their company owned accounts.
9)Crunch those numbers!
Analyze the data on a quarterly, monthly or even weekly basis. Currently your employees will only be able to see the direct impact of their interactions (e.g. favorites, replies and shares). However, a social media analytics tool can also tell you the impact in terms of reach and impressions, brand mentions, sentiment, and much more.
10)Give these numbers meaning and share the impact across the company.
How many of their posts have increased overall traffic to your site or contributed to more sales? Structure your program to reward participation, whether it’s badges, prizes or company-wide recognition. For instance, Zappos celebrate with spontaneous happy hours, props e-mails and free t-shirts.
Whether your organization is a growing startup or a Fortune 500, your employees are the public face of your company. If you’re not motivating your staff to advocate for your company on social media, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
Iris Vermeren is a social media enthusiast with a passion for writing. She’s currently working as a community manager for Brandwatch, a world leading social media monitoring tool. She maintains the company’s reputation across the web, as well as produces top quality content for communities online. Iris has lived, studied,… View full profile ›