Digital Insights: Using Your Employees as Advocates on Social Media

AbbyWright-Parkes

Whoever is responsible for social media at your professional body can only do so much. This month I look at using those within your wider staff group to help amplify your social messages and to extend your reach.

It’s often said that an organisation’s employees are its greatest asset. Employees can be ambassadors and with social media they can now be advocates. The term employee advocacy has been around for a while now. It’s become an increasingly important as a way of promoting the employer brand and an organisation’s EVP (Employee Value Proposition).

The value of employee advocacy

Essentially, the real value of employee advocacy boils down to two things: reach and trust.

By engaging your staff and encouraging them to share your social media messages on their own social networks, there is the clear potential that the organisation’s social media reach can be greatly expanded. Similarly, it might also open up access to social media platforms that the organisation hasn’t currently got a presence on.

I think Martin Reid at the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) is a great employee advocate:

Employee advocacy

Secondly, there is the issue of trust. Although organisations are exploiting the potential of social media more and more, it is worth remembering that all social media platforms are intended for social interaction. Studies from Edelman Trust Barometer show that content created/shared by friends and family is trusted by 78% of social media users. The like of ‘Companies I don’t use’, ‘Celebrities’ and ‘Elected Officials’ languish far behind in the ‘Distrusted’ category.

Steps to follow to use employees as advocates on social media

If an organisation makes advocacy easy and its employees support what it is doing, they will generally be willing to share.

Here are some steps to follow to make employee advocacy a success:

Bring people together
It’s important that employees understand social media at your organisation. Goals must be shared and an outline given of how they can help achieve these aims and objectives. Potentially, this could be linked to individual/team objective and roles, but the vital thing is to show employees the benefit. This isn’t just about “helping out the marketing/communications team”, it’s about having a shared vision and a shared sense of purpose.

Provide guidance
Although you should provide some guidance, guidelines shouldn’t be too strict or stringent. It’s important that you trust the judgement of your employees. Remember, these are their personal channels after all. It should be up to them what they share.

Make it easy
Employee advocacy shouldn’t be an onerous activity. Make it as easy as possible for your staff. For example, by creating pre-written content (such as tweets) for them to share.

Keep social front of mind
Keep all staff abreast of any major campaigns on your social channels. Promote the importance and value of social media within the organisation by ensuring that all your social efforts are reflected in all internal communications.

Measure and share results
Follow your employees and find a way to collate their content. If you want to take it a step further, you can invest an employee social media advocacy tool such as Hootsuite Amplify, which allows you to send approved content to an app, which employees can then share across their networks.  Not only does this make content sharing easy, it also makes it easy to share what is happening with social and show your advocates the impact of them getting involved.

What do you think?

Can you bring more of your employees on board to share your social content?

Abby Wright-Parkes is a membership development and marketing consultant who works with professional membership organisations to recruit, engage and retain their members. She operates under the brand name, Optimist Consulting (as she is one!). Connect with her via her website or @abby_w_p

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