Encouraging Employees to Become Brand Advocates
How does an organization begin to encourage employee participation in social media sharing? The first step is to communicate with them.
- You Have Brand Advocates at Your Fingertips
- Make It Easy for Employees to Advocate
- Using A Mass Communication System to Relay Information
- Re-engaging Employees
- Providing Sharable Information on The Right Channels
- Encouraging Participation
You Have Brand Advocates at Your Fingertips
Workforce.com recently published an article about how employees can help protect brands from fake news. The premise is that every employee can become a brand advocate and push out positive brand messaging via social media, a much more effective marketing tactic than most corporate marketing programs. The key is to equip employees with relevant, interesting, and thought-provoking information that is “safe” to share.
Companies are always looking for ways to boost their reputation, gain market share, and improve customer loyalty. Because so many employees are already on social media and talking about their employers in this venue, it only makes sense to provide them with corporate news, events, and milestones they can share with their circles of influence. Each employee has their own ecosystem of “friends” and followers, increasing audiences exponentially. Encouraging employees to share brand messaging on their social media sites is something many employers are exploring.
“The current state of employee engagement has not kept pace with the way we communicate outside of work. Employees use social media and text, while in the workplace, email remains the default communication platform. Employers who meet their employees where they are, in terms of communication, will have a better chance at engaging employees and earning their trust. Employees are a trusted source of information and generate authentic reach.” – Workforce.com
Make It Easy for Employees to Advocate
Meeting employees where they are is a running theme when it comes to employee engagement, retention, and happiness. Employees don’t want to be told they have to use email for all communications, especially now that so many of us rely on texting and social media to communicate. The author is correct in that when companies reach out to employees on the communication channels they prefer and use most, there is a much greater chance the employer will be viewed satisfactorily.
Email simply isn’t where employees want to be. Organizations should take heed and communicate with employees on the channels and devices employees want, not the other way around. If companies want to inspire employees to share brand messaging in their social networks, companies will have to provide the information through the channels employees use.
According to the article, one study says 33 percent of employees are already talking about their organization on social media, even without any encouragement. “If employees are already talking about where they work and what they do on social media, give them information and stories – that they know are safe to share – directly from the company.”
Using A Mass Communication System to Relay Information
A mass communication system is the ideal platform for employers to use to relay the positive information they would like to see shared by employees. Instead of emailing them the new company logo and asking them to share it with their networks to start a conversation, companies should be posting the new logo to their company’s social media pages then texting or sending push notifications to employees asking them to share it on their social networks. Instead of opening an email attachment, saving it, and retrieving it to post to a social site, they can simply “share” it directly from the company’s social media page.
Removing the complexity and number of steps required to share such information is just one way companies can encourage employee engagement. Internal communications should travel across multiple modes of communication, as most employees use various channels throughout their day. If companies are still relying on email to disseminate information, good luck. Employees are bombarded with emails 24 hours a day and only scan the majority of them, if they look at them at all. Is that the channel companies really want to focus their efforts on?
Employees can become excellent brand advocates when:
- They actually like their employer, the brand, and their fellow employees
- They receive relevant information they feel is worthy of sharing
- They are provided this information on the channels they are using, making it easier to share
Let’s break these down a bit. When we talk about brand advocates, you have to be sure the advocates actually advocate for the brand. As much as we want to believe our employees are happy and engaged at work, the truth is, many aren’t. Gallup’s latest tracking of employee engagement puts the number at only 32 percent. That means nearly 70 percent of U.S. employees are not engaged at work.
What does “engaged” mean? According to Gallup, employees who are engaged are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. These are precisely the people companies want to talk about their brand on social media. Organizations would like to quiet the other 70 percent who can cause real damage to the brand using those same social media platforms.
It’s up to the company to determine how they can engage or re-engage employees. Things like:
- providing opportunities for career growth
- opening lines of communication between employees and management
- providing ongoing internal communications where employees feel informed
- establishing a strengths-based performance evaluation system (as opposed to results-based)
- offering flexible work arrangements
…are just a few of the tactics that have worked for many companies.
Providing Sharable Information on The Right Channels
The second part of building employee brand advocates is being able to give them the information they actually want to share in their social circles. Employees are smart and recognize a media play when they see it. They don’t want to feel used so organizations must provide them with the information they view as interesting, humorous, and thought-provoking. In a word, the information is shareable.
Companies can provide this information efficiently company-wide using a mass communication system. By doing so, they can relay the information across multiple communication channels simultaneously to ensure every employee has the opportunity to see the information and easily share it if they so desire. Of course, employers should establish a regular feed of information across these channels so employees have plenty to choose from and a steady stream of shareable information they can continue to post about.
As employees become accustomed to receiving such information and as employers continue to encourage participation, shares will increase. Not only will these shares effectively inform the public of whatever messaging the company desires, but it will also show others how employees of this company actually enjoy where they work. There are many “best places to work” lists that are extremely popular amongst consumers. Consumers tend to gravitate towards companies whose employees rate them highly, as do future employees.
How does an organization begin to encourage employee participation in social media sharing? The first step is to communicate with them. It shouldn’t be a mandate. People rarely like mandates. What it should be is voluntary but rewarded. Companies can set up contests for the most “likes” and “shares” for any single corporate post. They could pit departments against each other or have each employee in it for themselves.
Every time there is a new shareable detail, a new contest can begin. Another option would be to send employees the information across their devices and then see who can get the most creative with their social media post using that information. In essence, each employee becomes the marketer, the advertiser. This is a fun way to encourage creativity and innovation.
Employees at the very least should understand how they are valued both internally as employees and externally as brand advocates. Companies must make continual efforts to improve workplace culture and drive employee engagement through ongoing programs. Your employees are going to share things about your company so you need to be proactive by providing them the right information to share.