Navigating the turbulent waters of social media marketing to build brand awareness, connect with audiences, and sell products and services is often a fruitless endeavor for many brands.
That’s because all social media platforms are overcrowded - they are noisy and full of brand-centric messages, and the users are choosing to tune all of that out.
And, even if they are paying attention, audiences are very skeptical of what brands have to say - according to the 2019 Edelman Brand Trust Survey, a whopping 66% of consumers don’t believe branded social messages - they feel too much like brands tooting their own horn.
So, how do you stand out and connect on social media?
You connect by tapping into your most valuable asset - and the one that prospects are more likely to find trustworthy - your employees.
By creating an army of “social employees” you’re not only expanding your organic reach on social media platforms - you’re creating a dynamic community that people instinctively engage with and trust.
Social Employee - an employee that uses social media tools for collaboration purposes, as well as for external engagement with customers, prospects, and stakeholders. This is done through a combination of social media marketing, content marketing, social marketing, and social selling
In the long-run, the goal is to turn these employee advocates into a money-making machine by tapping into their social networks to reinforce your brand messaging and social proof. When they post about your company, the messages of employee advocates get re-shared 24x more than when you post - and your bottom line quickly starts to reflect that.
What’s crucial to success here is creating a social media strategy that encourages employee participation - a strategy that your employees will own and embrace on their journey to become advocates on social sites.
Here are Ambassify’s six practical tips that will help you create such a strategy:
Include Employees When Creating Your Strategy
To prevent your efforts in building a social selling army falling through in the long run, it’s best to involve as many employees as possible in the initial set up of your social strategy.
Why is this a good idea?
Well, it’s a good idea because it accomplishes several things right off the bat:
- People with an affinity to quickly grow into their role as social employees will become apparent early on (which means that you can actively include them in the project from day one).
- Employees from completely unrelated departments (for example, Finance or IT) can have the experience, ideas and insights that prove to be indispensable for the success of the project.
- An inclusive approach to social media strategy creation helps foster transparency and trust within the organisation.
|Organisational Transparency - this is absolutely necessary if you want your employees to trust you - and trust is an essential building block of employee engagement. Only engaged employees can grow into true social media advocates, which is why you want to be as open and as upfront with policy-making as you can be. You can follow this link to download our Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement (PDF).|
Before the strategy is hammered out and implemented by your social media/marketing team, everyone in the company should have an opportunity to voice their opinions and send in their ideas for consideration. Although most of these ideas won’t be implemented, some will, which is enough for your employees to feel like they’re a part of the whole thing.
Create Clear Guidelines
The strategy document mentioned above should contain a set of guidelines for social media that your employees can follow when interacting on company pages.
Feel free to keep things common-sense and simple:
- DO add the organisation as your employer on your personal accounts.
- DO share company content, posts, news, and events.
- DO engage in social media activity during work hours if the purpose is to improve branding (yours or the company’s), answer questions from prospects, or share company posts or offers.
- DON’T disclose any confidential information (either that of the company or the clients).
- DON’T respond to negative comments and comments from competitors or engage in inflammatory discussions on the company’s social media pages.
You can check out this example from Starbucks if you need some inspiration before creating these guidelines.
Provide Social Media Training
Not everyone in your company is a social media maven but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t become a fierce social employee and an advocate for the company.
It just means that you will have to provide them with the encouragement to grow and learn, and with the tools to do so successfully.
The most challenging aspects here are the communication and social selling skills.
Employees interacting on your social media profiles need to know how to defuse tense situations, how to deal with criticism, and how, why, and when to strategically share specific company content in order to nurture potential social leads. The mechanics of posting on different social platforms can be covered quickly, but these softer, sales-y things might need a bit more time to master.
To tackle that, consider a two-pronged approach:
- Online tutorials - both written and video content will do the trick here. Your social media team can create quick how-to guides on the mechanics of different social networks, and share them with all current employees and used when onboarding new hires.
- On-site training - your social media team can ask for help from an HR specialist, an internal comms officer, and someone from the sales department, and create quarterly training sessions for employees on how to communicate and sell on social networks.
Social media training is a win-win: your employees add a marketable skill to their resume, and you don’t have to worry about improper social media communication, or that someone will drop the ball when it comes to social selling, growing brand awareness, or customer care when interacting on company’s social pages.
Share Employee Stories
One of the best ways to humanise your organisation on social sites is to focus on employee stories
This is especially important if you’re using your social profiles to boost employer branding initiatives (as you should be doing). According to LinkedIn research: “candidates trust the company’s employees 3x more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there.”
Employer Branding - a set of strategies and practices that a company uses to ensure that it’s attracting the best possible candidates for its open positions. Follow this link to download our Ultimate Guide to Employer Branding (PDF).
But perhaps the most important aspect of featuring the day-to-day of your employees on social media is how the spotlight (however brief) makes them feel. They get a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership - not only in the social selling project, but in the organization as well. This increases their engagement, and they are then much more likely to go that extra mile for the company and become involved in advocacy efforts.
These employee stories come in many shapes and forms - a simple image or a short video, a post about a day-in-the-life of an employee on a particular position, or a blog post written by an employee that you then share on company’s pages. Hootsuite does this very well, and they never forget to tag their employees in posts to drive even more engagement.
Consider Employee Takeovers - depending on your overall legal policy, employee takeovers of your social accounts could be a fun way to increase participation in online activities. Find employees who excel at original content creation and curation, and let them entertain your audience for the day.
Incentivise Participation in Social Selling Activities
What do your employees get out of participating in your social selling and advocacy activities?
Hopefully, it’s a sense of pride that they’re going above and beyond for a company that they feel would do the same for them.
Still, we all like to feel appreciated and valued for going that extra mile, which is why you should think about a rewards program through which your top social employees can earn cool rewards.
The key here is not to go overboard with physical and cash rewards - they will work, but just up to a certain point. A much better approach is to focus on long-term gains of participating in an employee advocacy program:
- the benefit of building their professional brand, and
- positioning themselves (and the company) as thought leaders in the industry.
A vast majority of employees (86%) who participate in formal advocacy programs note that this has reflected positively on their careers. If you can get that point across effectively, the intrinsic motivation of your employees will do the work for you, and you won’t have to spend as much on rewards.
Measure Success & Share Data With Employees
Obviously, you want to make sure that your focus on social media is financially justified.
To start with, focus on the following metrics:
- organic reach and impressions,
- website traffic from social,
- customer/prospect questions handled through social,
- impact of social campaigns on brand awareness, and
- marketing and sales-qualified leads from social campaigns.
However, once you have this data, it shouldn’t be reserved for just your marketing, sales, and finance teams. Share the social media wins - and losses - with everyone in the company, and especially with your active social employees.
This will accomplish two things:
- Wins (and losses) will impact employee motivation - if you’re winning on social, everyone who’s contributed will feel immense satisfaction being a part of the team. Less-than-stellar results might be what inspires your social employees to dig even deeper in order to improve various social metrics.
- Transparency will foster a sense of belonging - again, when a company shares information freely, employees are more likely to trust the management, and will throw their weight behind even more initiatives.
Power Up Your Social Selling & Employee Advocacy Efforts With Ambassify
Maintaining a presence on social media sites can seem daunting.
Most platforms are crowded and noisy, and your content gets lost in back-to-back torrential showers of business posts - connecting with even the audience that you’ve built often feels impossible.
But, done right, every ounce of effort you pour into your social media will pay double dividends. Remember, nearly a third of millennials and generation Z members prefer brand communication via social media, and brand messages shared by employees get reshared 24x more than those pushed by the company.
The key to winning on social are your employees. Once you figure out how to turn them into true social employees and advocates, you’ll quickly realise that social media is a valuable asset, and can be used for brand-building, employer branding, traffic-generation, and as a lead pipeline.
Ambassify is here to help with all of that.
Ambassify is an all-in-one employee engagement & advocacy platform that lets you track social media shares and activities, measure (and incentivise) the efforts of your social employees, and a lot more If you want to take your social media efforts to the next level, make sure to book a guided demo tour with our engagement and advocacy experts!