How to Increase Employee Social Sharing for More Organic Reach
October 12, 2017
It only took a decade for social media to go from a new thing to the next big thing to just another tool in the toolkit. At first it seemed like an easy (and free!) way to build a bridge to our audience.
But it turns out the bridges we built were toll bridges. If we don’t pay, we’re likely to come up short.
Your employees can be a powerful partner for closing the gap. On average, their networks are ten times the size of your corporate audience. Their shares are twice as likely to be clicked on. And each one has a genuine, unique personal voice. Their voices can engage even more than the most finely-crafted brand messaging.
The challenge is to get employees thinking about social media in a strategic, productive way. Instead of a way they unwind from (or avoid) work, social media sharing can help promote not just the business, but their career and reputation, too.
This approach to social sharing as a marketing function is called employee advocacy, and a well-run employee advocacy program can generate amazing results. Companies with mature programs have seen increased reach, more traffic to Company Pages and websites, shorter sales cycles, and more.
Here’s how to start encouraging your employees to be advocates.
1. Offer the Right Incentives
To sustain interest beyond the initial push, it’s important that your employees’ motivation comes from the right place. Employees shouldn’t participate because they’ll get a bonus, or frequent flier miles, or even just free lunch once a week. They also shouldn’t be competing directly with each other—it’s not about scoring points.
All these incentives distract from the real reason for participating: Their social activity is good for the business and for themselves. Let them know their activity will help build their personal networks, cultivate their reputation as a knowledgeable person in the industry, and boost their personal brand. This kind of intrinsic motivation is key for a program with staying power.
2. Provide Structure
Employees need to know what, when, and how to share to be effective advocates. Just as importantly, they need guidelines for what not to share. A solid social media policy can help provide guidelines that will help overcome any initial hesitation.
It helps to point out examples of how people further up the org chart are using social media. Which means if management isn’t already active, they need education and encouragement to lead by example.
3. Allow for Flexibility
Once your marketing department has provided guidelines and training, you get to the hard part: Letting go and letting employees speak with their own voices. That’s a hard thing for a marketer to do. We’re used to agonizing over social messages, sweating details and going through multiple drafts.
If you micromanage their messages, though, you risk disrupting the authenticity that makes employee advocacy so compelling. Your audience isn’t looking for your brand’s words from someone else’s mouth. They’re looking for unique, genuine voices. Provide guidelines and suggested messaging, then step back as much as possible.
4. Celebrate New Habits
As employees start to share, encourage their efforts and share positive results. An employee advocacy platform like LinkedIn Elevate makes it easy to track who is sharing and the effect of their shares.
Tracking progress lets you prove the intrinsic benefits mentioned in the first section. You can show employees how their shares are engaging an audience, helping build their networks and drive more views to their LinkedIn Profiles. You can even show how their shares are boosting the business.
Social media is a harder nut to crack than it was a decade ago. Your employees have already built a network of connections that far outstrips your brand’s organic reach. An employee advocacy program enables employees to boost the brand and their own reputation in a strategic, sustainable way.
To learn more about empowering employees to advocate for you on social media, download The Official Guide to Employee Advocacy.