Is your employee brand advocacy program meeting your goals? Or are you finding it to be a challenge to widen your range of engagement? Are you sure that your employees know that you want them to regularly share company news through social?
You may think that your intentions are clear when it comes to encouraging employee social engagement. But one of the most common obstacles that businesses are facing is hesitation from employees. They don’t know what exactly they should be sharing, and they’re afraid of sharing something that gets them into trouble. Don’t just take my word for it—take a look at the recent research from Bambu by Sprout.
So how do you ensure employees know that you want them to share work-related content on social? You need to tell them it’s OK to do so. That’s a message to repeat early and often—starting with employee onboarding. Include an employee brand advocacy module in every new employee onboarding training plan. This helps you connect with enthusiastic new recruits as they start their journey with your company. It’s a great opportunity to give them the tools and guidance they need to fuel comfortable with advocating on behalf of your brand.
Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for employee brand advocacy during onboarding, I recommend including the following elements:
1. An introduction to the brand’s social channels
At Anaplan, we included an employee brand advocacy component in our new hire orientations. This included a tour of the company’s official social media channels. The session facilitator encouraged the new recruits to accompany the presentation online and follow the social channels as we walked through them. We tapped our social media manager or one of our engaged employee advocates for this session, to bring it to life.
Additionally, we gave concrete examples of the sort of employee advocacy activities the company was looking to encourage. For example, following the company’s LinkedIn page and twitter account to keep informed of corporate news and marketing activities, and liking or sharing content.
If you have multiple brand channels on a social network, such as having dedicated recruiting or customer service handles on twitter, this is a good time to explain the different strategies and owners for these channels. Do company employees use special hashtags to define themselves or for tagging life at the office posts? Be sure to let the newbies in on them.
If time allows, also consider including some social media best practices or gamification based upon recent employee online interactions.
We often assume that everyone we hire has experience navigating social media conversations, but that’s not necessarily the case. Put together a packet with a few brief tip sheets or tutorials to give your new hires information they can use to conduct themselves in the best professional light.
2. A review of your company’s social media policy
Even if it’s brief, it’s important to have a documented social media policy that clearly outlines any expectations your organization has about employee use of social media as it relates to their job.
An effective social media policy lets employees know that your company expects that employees will be using social media. It additionally provides clear guidelines as to your expectations around how they publicly identify themselves and their role within your organization.
It’s helpful to include a summary of the type of information that should not be shared on social channels. This avoids asking employees to remove content after it’s been shared publicly. Typically, items on the “do not share” list include confidential company intellectual property, financial details, customer-related information, or confidential internal communications.
One of the more frequent issues I’ve seen arise in organizations without a documented social media policy is sharing new customer wins or deal expansion information over social media.
When an employee closes a big deal, they’re understandably excited and want to share it with their friends and family. But if they are doing so over publicly-available social channels, that can sometimes upset the customer in question. Further, many companies have a policy of not allowing their company name to be used in marketing without corporate approval. By making sure to include details like this in your social media policy, you can avoid these sorts of missteps.
If you’re looking for some inspiration on what to include, check out these social media policies from Ford, IBM, and Dell.
3. Time to update their LinkedIn profile
One of the first things I do after meeting a new coworker is look them up on LinkedIn to add them to my network. This is much easier to do when her LinkedIn profile has been updated to note their new role, so their new colleagues—and customers for that matter—aren’t left guessing if this is the same person they’ve been talking to or not.
In addition to making sure they link their profile to the correct company page, this is a good opportunity to share a one-line description of the company that they can use in their position description or professional summary.
4. An abbreviated style guide
Your typical employee doesn’t ever need to see the comprehensive brand style guide your marketing team uses. But it can be beneficial for brand consistency to create an abbreviated version that covers the highlights.
A few things to include:
- The official company name
- Your current brand slogan or tagline
- A one-line description of the company
- Trademarked or registered product names
- Official product names
- Officer names and titles
- Any special industry terms or acronyms
- A link to brand-approved social media header images
5. Why the company encourages employee brand advocacy
Last but not least, it’s helpful to directly tell your new hires that you encourage employees to be brand advocates, and explain how this helps the company create a better customer experience.
How does employee advocacy relate to your brand attributes? What sort of social content and engagement is a good example of what you’re looking to encourage? How are current employee advocacy efforts affecting the bottom line?
Sharing employee-generated content, such as photos or videos shared with a day-in-the-life brand hashtag, can go a long way to making a new employee feel at home in their new role. It also gived them confidence that it’s OK for them to share on social media in the future.
After showing your new hires through this onboarding curriculum, you’ll be on the way to creating an environment in which they’ll feel comfortable and confident about participating on social in the course of their work. And that’s a key first step on the path to employee advocacy.
A version of this post first appeared on postbeyond.com.