Our Creative Director Hannah gets to grips with one of the hottest social marketing trends of recent years – employee advocacy on social media – and explores why it can be a boon for your business, if you do it right.
In my experience, one thought that’s guaranteed to turn most managers and business leaders absolutely cold is “encouraging their employees to talk about their organisation on Social Media”.
From the time HMV’s Twitter feed was hijacked by their recently-laid-off marketing team, to the TFL employee who told an irate Tube traveller to “leave early next time” to avoid being late for work, to the Burger King employee who stood in the lettuce, to that one bloke who brought down Ashley Madison – when many of us think about “employees” and “social media”, it’s in the context of a horror story.
Encouraging your employees to talk about you in a public forum, it seems, is the equivalent of going down to the basement in your underwear to check out that spooky noise.
It’s such a compelling narrative that many employers operate a simple blanket ban on talking about work on social media, at all, ever – even if you want to say something nice.
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Changing the Employee Advocacy narrative
Don’t let your employees loose on social media. Someone tried it once and look what happened to them.
That’s the employee-advocacy story we’ve all been given; but there is another narrative, and it’s one we should all take notice of.
Employee Advocacy on social media has grown into one of the hottest social marketing trends of recent years, as switched-on employers begin to wake up to the hidden powerhouse at the heart of social networks.
Here are the two statistics we all need to take notice of.
First, 84% of us trust a recommendation for a product or service when it comes from someone we know. (In contrast, a lowly 15% of us trust a recommendation from a brand.)
And second, the social networks of our employees have, on average, ten times the reach of our corporate accounts – while the typical audience overlap is a miniscule 2 – 8%.
What’s stopping us?
Put like that, the theory seems so obvious. We can sweat blood trying to coax potential customers into following our social media streams, and live with the fact that 85% of them won’t trust what we say anyway.
Or we can ask our employees to help. The theory seems so obvious; but most of us still find the prospect terrifying. We simply don’t trust our own employees not to damage the organisation they’re a part of.
So what, exactly, are we afraid of? Why would any employee want to do damage to the organisation they’re a part of?
I’ve heard lots of answers (“What if they share something confidential?” “What if they’re rude about what it’s like to work here?” “What if they upset a customer?” “What if they drunk-tweet to our account?” and my personal favourite, “What if they post those photos they’ve got of me at the office party?”).
Ultimately, though, they all boil down to two core anxieties:
– Our employees don’t know what’s appropriate for them to share, so they may damage our organisation by accident
– Our employees don’t care what’s appropriate for them to share, so they may damage our organisation on purpose
Fixing the employee advocacy problem
The great news? Both of these problems are totally fixable:
– If your employees don’t know what’s appropriate, you have an Internal Communications problem. Create a Social Media policy that explains how their advocacy can help make your organisation stronger, share the guidelines on the kinds of content you’d like them to share, and off you go.
– And if your employees don’t care what’s appropriate and are itching for the opportunity to air your collective dirty laundry, you have an Engagement problem. Talk to them about what’s going wrong and fix it. Then you can create and share your Social Media policy.
Do I trust my employees to talk about our organisation on Social Media? It’s a great question because it cuts to the heart of whether our employees are really engaged or not.
When we have confidence that our employees will be successful and motivated Social Media advocates, we’ll know we’ve achieved our Engagement goals – and we’ll reap the benefits of that engagement through true Employee Advocacy.
And in case you’re wondering, everyone at H&H has free access to our company Twitter account!
Meet the author
I knew at the age of seven that my calling was in art. And I’ve never looked back! Over the years my passion has extended well beyond design, stretching into the strategy and theory behind communications. I love leading and inspiring our team of creatives, strategists and psychologists to be innovative, imaginative and original when it comes to tackling the biggest IC challenges – and delighting our clients is the icing on the cake!
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