Why is it that, even in this digital age of free flowing information, marketing departments act like propagandists operating under some oppressive political dictatorship.
It almost feels like we’re living out some kind of hellish 1984-esque scenario where all information that reaches the general public has to first be filtered by the marketing spin squad.
Ok… So I’m exaggerating a little, but take a look for yourself.
Everywhere I look, especially on Twitter, I see the same phrase used over and over, “views expressed are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer”.
I cringe when I see this.
Apart from the fact that the 160 character limit on your Twitter bio is severely compromised, it also sends out a loud and clear message to the world… Your employer doesn’t trust you.
Personally, I’ve never been asked to write that in my social media bios, and if I was, my response would probably be in the form of a letter informing my employer of my intention to relocate to pastures anew.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. With the huge number of very public social media faux pas we’ve seen over the last few years, you can see why brands get spooked.
But what if you looked at things a little differently. What if you opened up your social media policy to let your staff get out there and start meaningful conversations and tell engaging stories.
In my opinion your employees can be one of your biggest marketing assets when it comes to boosting social engagement. To help you boost your brand through social media, here are a few tips to get you started with employee advocacy.
Ask your employees to share your content
This may seem obvious, but believe me, most brands don’t do this.
The web is a noisy place and getting your content seen by the right people is a big challenge.
Chances are, your staff are connected to relevant people because they work for your brand and are already communicating with the people you want to be in front of.
When you produce a significant piece of content that you want to get in front of an audience, send round an email to your staff asking if they’d be happy to share it with their social networks.
Notice I use the word “ask” here. You need to remember that social media profiles are sacred to their owners, it’s their space to have their say and you shouldn’t demand that your employees share your content.
The average social media user has hundreds of connections, so even with a small team, you can soon amplify your content significantly if they’re happy to share your content.
Encourage your staff to join the conversation
People are talking about your brand online. On social media, Q+A sites, forums, you name it, there will be people there talking about you whether you like it or not.
It’s impossible to track all of these conversations, but if you give your staff the freedom to engage with your audience online, without the shackles of an overly oppressive social media policy, your brand will be an active participant in the conversation.
And there’s another added benefit.
By giving your employees the freedom to speak on behalf of the brand, you’re empowering them. They will feel as though they’re part of something bigger than their job title and will actively be out there, among the right online communities, inadvertently promoting your brand.
Getting your employees to be more active online is not easy. You’ll probably find there needs to be a cultural shift. I’ve worked with many different brands over the years and most of the time employees don’t think they’re allowed to take on such an active role within a brand’s community.
In many cases, employees feel they feel they’d get in trouble if they took on a more active role. It’s not difficult to see why when you have to write “views expressed are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer” on your social profiles.
Make your employees social superstars
A great brand is made of great people.
One of the best ways to boost your brand’s profile through social media is by boosting the profiles of the employees within your company.
By helping your staff boost their personal brands online, you’ll be known as being a business full of superstars.
This is what Premier League football clubs in England do. They invest heavily in their players’ personal brands because it helps them achieve high gate receipts, shirt sales and is also the reason why there is always a huge amount of interest around the summer transfer window.
If you become known as a business full of stars, you’ll attract interest.
Also, by boosting the profiles of your staff, you’ll always have great content to put out there, and as a result, you’ll have employees who are loyal and will actively promote your brand when speaking to others.
What are you waiting for?
As I’ve highlighted, it’s naive to think that we can filter all information that reaches our audience about our brands.
By treating every employee as an ambassador and giving them the freedom and the tools to reach your audience, the potential to grow your brand is huge.
Don’t get me wrong, there are potential downsides, but your employees will be talking about your brand anyway, by empowering them to do so however, that communication is far more likely to be positive and valuable.
From a content perspective alone, the combined social networks of your employees will likely far outweigh your current social reach, so why not try to tap into it as a valuable asset.