Editor’s Note: This is one of the most complex areas of social media – and often seen as high risk. We would counter that if you seek to enrich how your brand is perceived – cultivating employees from all levels in your business to serve as social ambassadors will help you do that. Just like any other initiative – it requires education, clear guidelines, and persistence in measuring progress for this work. Many of the largest enterprises have already discovered you cannot just blast brand content to an audience and clients without a sense of relationship, the ability for those you reach to make a connection and relate your brand to the identity they know best – the people in your brand.
Employees and social media – too risky or an opportunity for success? Many companies are discovering that every single employee has the potential to become a brand ambassador — someone who draws visibility to their workplace and acts as an advocate for the company, both online and off. Social media advocacy in the workplace can lead to authentic relationships, boosted sales and positive branding. In order to help employees reach their online potential, here are three tips on how to transform employees into powerful brand advocates:
Not everyone is a social media expert, and that’s ok. Employers should view this as an opportunity for employee development. Brand ambassadors need to feel confident about their online presence, so help them get there! For example, employees may not know where to begin or which platform is best for them. So, provide a crash course on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter, and let them decide which platform matches their goals and personalities.
It is also important to have a conversation on social media responsibility. Employers should review the significance and value of the company’s social media policy with employees. Train them on social media etiquette for online interactions and clearly explain the importance of reputation management and brand protection. These learning opportunities demonstrate that the company encourages people to start engaging and prepares them to do it successfully.
Establish Trust and Open Communication
Brand ambassadors are going to talk about the company on social media – make sure they are sharing the right content. Employers must establish and maintain absolute transparency regarding social media communications. Whether it’s a regular email or a quick discussion at a weekly company meeting, outline what information can be shared online and what needs to remain internal.
Trust is also an important factor to brand advocacy – encouraging employees to share exciting company news on social media builds a level of trust and enables employees to feel like they’re “in the know” and expected to act appropriately when representing the workplace.
Become a Social Media Advocate
Employee activism on social media can easily transform employees into brand ambassadors for the company. However, it’s important to emphasize that you, as the employer, are also an advocate for the social media well-being of employees.
Therefore, take an active role in the success of employees in the digital space. Educate them on social media do’s and dont’s, and encourage completed profiles that showcase experience, expertise, and personality. For example, RegEd held a series of LinkedIn optimization sessions where employees received a review of their profiles and tips on how to build a more effective online presence – whether that meant adding a professional photo, spotlighting volunteer activities, or defining their skills clearly. This investment in your employees will help them become stronger professionals and increase brand loyalty throughout the company.