Employee advocacy and social media: Encouraging staff to sing your praises

Here, Ross Howard gives a brief guide to encouraging employee advocacy on social media.

Getting your brand noticed online is crucial to the success of any small business, and employee advocacy can play a huge role in raising your profile, especially when budgets are tight and you need to be nimble. Essentially, the idea is to get staff to share your content on their social networks, extending the reach of your organisation and helping to demonstrate a great company culture.

Whether sharing job adverts, promoting blog posts or showing some love for company events, your staff can be excellent assets when it comes to pushing your cause, organically spreading the word and implicitly framing you as a great employer – one that deserves attention.

In a world where peer-to-peer influence is a huge factor when making purchasing decisions, and people are more likely to believe the views of those they know and trust, inspiring your workforce to shout company messages from the rooftops could go a long way to growing your audience and, ultimately, winning business.

Sharing is caring

At your next team meeting, explain that sharing the company’s social media posts on individual profiles is key to facilitating business growth. You can back this up by quoting Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2017 (an annual report that analyses extensive global data) which states employees are the most credible sources for accurate insights.

Outline how the whole group can benefit from cultivating a proactive approach to social sharing, and why not demonstrate your work in action by taking a team selfie and uploading it there and then? Tag those who are happy to be tagged and enthusiastically suggest that everyone reaches for their smartphones to share the snap right away.

Getting buy-in from the whole squad is crucial for small businesses that rely on close teamwork, so do all you can to ensure the process is fun. For instance, if somebody feels uncomfortable and would rather not appear in a photo, ask if they’d be happy to act as resident photographer instead.

Making the effort to learn how everyone feels about social media will be key to forming a successful advocacy programme. Ask what platforms people use, how frequently they check and update them, and find out if it’d be worth running training workshops on specific networks.

Identifying your ‘social media champions’ – those who are well-versed in the art of social savviness and can teach others – will benefit your whole organisation and provide some take-home value for individual team members. Your champions can then take the lead when showing others how to maximise their efforts.

Once you’ve energised your troops and won support for an all-inclusive social media strategy, you need to give them regular output to start sharing.

Quality content is key

The regular production of valuable content – such as informative blog posts, how-to guides and white papers – works wonders on social media; the tone of this type of material is not directly sales-driven, so staff should feel comfortable sharing it with their friends and family.

Thought leadership is a great way of positioning your brand as a market leader – one engaged with the wider conversation and a real voice of authority – so sticking to a content calendar that regularly answers pertinent questions to your sector will help ensure that your staff take pride in promoting your work.

Contributing guest articles to authoritative industry websites is another fantastic marketing tactic, as you’ll benefit in terms of social proof (gaining credibility from being affiliated with a well-known publication) and you’ll also gain a high-quality citation link back to your website (which search engines will see as a recommendation and- boosting your search rankings as a result).

Moreover, the better quality sites you’re published on, the more readily your team will share the content.

As soon as anything is published – whether on your own website or on a third-party – your social media leader should email the whole team with a link. Firstly, encourage everyone to read the content – aiding their professional knowledge and ensuring they’re in the loop with company messaging – and then make it as easy as possible for them to share away.

You can mix up the method to keep things fresh and organic, sometimes asking them to share a link with their own comments, other times pointing them to another team member’s social media post and asking them to engage with that instead.

Another top tip is to encourage everyone to ‘like’ posts as well as sharing them; the more ‘likes’ you have, the better perception you’ll give off.

You’ll probably want to limit your ‘please do this’ approach to advocacy to two or three times a week, otherwise people can quickly tire of being asked to do the same thing on a daily basis.

Show the world

The best way to foster employee advocacy is to run activities that naturally lend themselves to social media engagement. If team members are attending a conference, company lunch, networking event, a team-building exercise – basically any occasion outside of normal day-to-day operations – get your staff to show the world where they are and what they’re up to.

Imagery performs particularly well across the social spectrum, so any opportunity to take a snap and say a few words can really shine a light on morale-boosting business activities. You could also consider coining a bespoke hashtag that sums up the company culture, which can be used to add a level of consistency to all work-related posts.

It’s important to issue social media guidelines to ensure staff are aware of what is and what isn’t appropriate, as you don’t want to risk damaging your brand or giving away sensitive information.

As and when staff prove themselves to be team players and get on board with your advocacy programme, it’s important to thank them – both in person and online. Business leaders need to practice what they preach as well, so make sure you engage with staff and actually promote company content yourself.

Ultimately, people buy from people, and those at the heart of your business can prove to be your strongest salesforce, naturally opening up a wider audience to facilitate growth. A stronger social presence contributes to a stronger overall company, which is a win-win for all parties concerned.

Ross Howard is the Editor of Insights for Professionals.

Further reading on employee advocacy

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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