Social media empowers you to communicate with a large audience, and at speeds we could only have imagined before. While this is usually an advantage, we also need to be careful – a single wrong message can be broadcast to hundreds and thousands (or even millions) of people with a simple mouse click. And while you can control your corporate message, there’s one element you can never fully control: that’s how your employees use social media.
How Employee Social Media Use Affects Your Company
Your employees are already using social channels, where their friends, colleagues, and your potential customers are present. As such, they already play an important role as brand / reputation builders. The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer discovered that 41 per cent of customers think your employees are the most credible sources of information for your business. When employees share content about your brand, potential customers are far more likely to connect with it. That’s because employee shares are perceived to be more authentic, and brand messages shared by employees are 24 times more likely to be reshared than if your brand distributed the message. There is, of course, an equally powerful downside when employees talk bad about your company. The news is filled with sensational stories about employees going wild on the Internet. In 2012, for instance, Taco Bell in the United States faced a major scandal when then-employee Cameron Jankowski filmed himself urinating on the food, and then Tweeting the image. Just last year, Chipotle faced a firestorm of media criticism when an employee tweeted about low pay. Chiptole fired the employee, which just provoked even more public outrage; the company subsequently lost a lawsuit over the firing. Many employers are faced with a conundrum: they can’t control how their employees use social media, but they can’t afford to ignore it either. The emerging solution, pioneered by companies like Hewlett Packard and The Gap, is to implement clear-cut social media policies. These are taught to employees, Human Resources, and all relevant departments. This removes arbitrary responses, when it comes to what an employee may post, and how the company will respond.
Turning employees into advocates
Treat your employees right, and they’ll feel comfortable promoting your company on social media. Examples of employee advocacy include sharing social posts from your company’s Facebook page, tweeting about your latest event, or sharing positive personal opinions on products and services. Here are some ways to get started:
- Identify Your Objectives and Goals
Generally, employees can use social media to impact three different areas of the business: marketing, sales, and recruitment. Because employee posts are considered to be more trustworthy than brand posts, it makes sense for your program to be centred around one of these key areas. As soon as you’ve identified your objectives, set specific, measurable goals you want to accomplish. For example, if your objective is to amplify a new product launch, then your KPIs should be: X numbers of employee shares, or X clicks from employee posts. Once you’ve set such goals, you can go about implementing the methods to make it happen; see the next step.
- Get the Leaders on Board
Employee advocacy will only do its magic if your employees are intrinsically motivated. Remember, it’s their personal social media accounts. They’re not obligated to post anything. Begin by requesting help from the more extroverted (on social media) employees. Identify the ones most enthusiastic about the project, and point out they have the freedom to share on social media. For example, you could identify your lead game designer, and have her share her thoughts on the game as the development progresses. This can be done with her own tweets and Facebook posts. She could even invite feedback from the public at different stages (this is called open development). Ideally, the leaders should be employees who are deeply involved from day one of any project. Be sure to give them the limelight – employee participation will not only benefit your business, it can be a boon to the employee’s personal brand and social presence as well. But whatever you do, don’t make it a job or a demand (e.g. don’t tell your employees they must post X comments per day). That’s probably not a legal demand, at any rate.
- Measure your responses to negative posts
You can turn a negative post into a positive one. For example, say your employee complains on social media about always working through lunch. Instead of sending an angry email, you might point out that you saw the post – then ask if you can provide more help, or follow up with a nice touch. For example, have lunch delivered to the employee from her favourite restaurant, the next time she’s working through her lunch hour. The same employee might be willing to post about your actions, which could reverse the damage. At the very least, it’s a better way to handle negative posts than firing or reprimanding the employee (which would generate very little sympathy for your company).
- Make It Sustainable
Turning employees into advocates shouldn’t be treated as a one-off initiative. The long-term benefits require the continued participation of your team. To keep them motivated, you need to invest time and resources in creating content your employees want to share. Ask your team for their thoughts on what types of content resonates with them, or holds value for their friends. Make them part of the content creation process, and they will continue to be passionate advocates for as long as they’re on your team.
For all the other concerns, you can contact Synagie.com for the right business solution.
Once you’ve got a handle on employee social media issues, you can start to focus on other areas that make a key difference: getting your products to customers on time, and making it easy for them to place or change orders. For these and other business solutions, contact one of our experts (https://synagie.com/integrations/) at Synagie.com.