Remember when businesses used to shun social media? Facebook and Twitter were distractions, not business opportunities, and people interacted almost exclusively with other people online.
Those days are gone. Today, every business with a brain has several social media accounts. Consumers engage with brands in Facebook comment sections and follow their favorite companies on Instagram. Businesses have to keep a close eye on their social presence — but, unfortunately, they don’t often get help from their employees.
As valuable as social media managers and marketing teams are, regular employees can make or break a company’s reputation online. Without positive voices from people within the business, brands miss out on incredible opportunities to expand their reach, communicate their values, and engage with prospective customers and employees alike.
Follow these tips to get employees involved in your brand’s social media presence:
1. Aim for Instagrammable
Let’s face it: Your workers aren’t about to post photos of sleepy crowds or concrete walls on their social media accounts. If you want them to brag about your business on Instagram — or Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or even LinkedIn — give them something worth sharing.
“During company events and initiatives, we see a spike in employees tagging Nu Skin and using event specific hashtags on their social platforms,” says Ritch Wood, CEO of Nu Skin. “We strive to develop a culture and provide a great work environment where employees are engaged, excited and proud to work at.”
The result, Wood argues, is that workers organically take and share photos with their followers. Instagrammable moments make for a win-win: Team members get snazzy content for their social accounts, while your company gets an organic boost to its online reputation.
2. Focus on Values
Product information and prices are great for product pages, but they don’t make for exciting social media posts. Instead of asking employees to repost new listings, educate them on company values and encourage them to get involved with causes that matter to them.
Employee advocacy platform EveryoneSocial advises companies to share their mission with employees to encourage natural social media activity. “Similarly to having an accessible social media policy in place, sharing the company’s goals and mission for socially active employees is equally important,” says Todd Kunsman at EveryoneSocial. “Not informing your fellow employees hinders the company culture and could generate mistrust in the overall brand.”
Talk to employees about why their online presence matters. Share transparency and impact reports to demonstrate that the company backs up its claims of good deeds. Give employees reasons to feel personal pride in the company’s work so they don’t perceive social media as another task to mark off.
3. Design a Comprehensive Social Media Guide
Most employees are great on social media, but a few will inevitably cross the line. Ward off potential issues by creating a social media guide that outlines expectations for employees who choose to engage with or promote the brand on their private channels.
“A social media policy outlines how an organization and its employees should conduct themselves online,” says Jimmy Thomson of Hootsuite. “It helps safeguard your brand’s reputation and encourages employees to responsibly share the company’s message.”
Keep it short and sweet so employees don’t feel overwhelmed by rules. Use visuals, graphics, and obvious yes/no indicators so anyone could glance at the information and understand it immediately. Continue to update the sheet as necessary.
“Because social media moves fast, policies that are too rigid can be ineffective in a changing situation,” says Thomson. “Think of your social media policy as a set of guardrails, rather than train tracks. It should be considered a living document. Ongoing updates will be necessary.”
4. Reward Employees for Great Content
Employees who engage with the brand on social media often create their own content to do so. They share personal stories, write up long posts, and put a great deal of effort into their work. Encourage those who go above and beyond by rewarding people for in-depth content, and offer prizes for those who submit personal stories for the company to use on its own accounts.
“Encourage the leaders of different departments to invite their team members to contribute content and participate in other content marketing activities (e.g., brainstorming, sharing),” says Dan Steiner of Content Marketing Institute. “Promote the opportunity in the company-wide newsletter by inviting employees to participate in corporate content creation.”
People love games, so host a contest with prizes for people who submit the best content. Help employees create videos, blog posts, or infographics. Encourage them to share that content on their own channels and engage with commenters.
Just as consumers love user-contributed content, audiences enjoy it when regular employees share their own stories on social media. Communications from real people feel much more authentic than branded posts, and they help outside parties connect to the brand on a more personal level. By bolstering a social media strategy with a little employee help, brands can boost their engagement, increase their bottom line, and make employees feel like valuable contributors.