Nearly everybody has experienced both the positives and negatives of social media:  the connection with family and friends and the spreading of fake news.  In the workplace, social media can be a force for good by helping employees share ideas and foster a positive culture.  It can be a tool to increase collaboration, or incite a decrease in productivity.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Employees Who Use Social Media For Work Are More Engaged – but Also More Likely to Leave Their Jobs,” Lorenzo Bizzi says the bigger concern is not over productivity, but employee retention. 76% of employees using social media for work, he says, took an interest in other organizations they found on social media.” Making new work connections and researching new organizations led to a higher-than-normal departure rate for employees.

It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way

It really doesn’t have to be that way, though.  Implementing an Employee Advocacy Program can harness the positives about social media and use it to support your business objectives.  Done right, it can not only cut down on turnover, but serve as a recruiting tool for your organization, and have a positive impact on your culture.

It’s a simple concept:  engaged employees are simply more valuable.  Teams with high employee engagement rates are 21% more productive, according to a Gallup poll.  The more their engagement aligns with your corporate mission, the more likely they are to stick around.

They are also more like to buy into your organizational goals and recruit others with similar beliefs.

Encouraging Engagement

You know your employees are going on social media at work.  Even if it’s banned in your workplace, they still have their smart phones.  By harnessing the power and positive of social media, you can use it to your advantage.

It starts with clear communication.

Study after study reveals that lack of communication is the number one biggest complaint from employees.  Engaging more employees in the organization’s mission forces greater – and broader – communication.  In order to help share the message, employees have to be in the loop and understand the underlying goals.

Aligning Your Values

Professor of Organization Behavior at Boston University William Kahn is credited with being the first to use the term engagement in terms of employees.  He said engaged employees display an emotional connection to the work.  They have what he calls a “Psychological Meaningfulness” – a innate feeling that the work they do is worthwhile and makes a difference.  He also quantified “Psychological Safety” – a sense by employees that they were valued, accepted, and respected.

These are the keys to employee engagement.  You have to create this culture first before you can really ask your employees to be your social brand ambassadors.  Without a shared sense of purpose and pride in their work, they are not likely to be great representatives.

It’s most evident with Millennials.  68% of Millennials say they want to make a positive difference in the world, according to an American Express study.  78% said they want to work for employers that share their values and have a positive impact on society.

The more they understand your values align with theirs, the more likely they are to stick around.  They’re also ready and willing to share that message with their network and that can pay dividends.

Amplifying Your Reach

The average Facebook user has more than 300 friends.  If you’re also on LinkedIn and have just 100 connections that means you can potential reach 400 people.  If you’re in an office of just 25 people and you get them all to share something, the initial reach is 10,000.

Their reach is more effective than yours.  Research shows that people are 16 times more likely to read a post from a friend about a company than read a post from the company itself.  They’re more than twice as likely to trust the information from employees as from the company itself of company bosses.

That Word-of-Mouth advertising is a huge advantage.  92% of consumers worldwide report they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertisement, according to Nielsen.  That’s reason enough to get your employees to engage socially.

12 Benefits Of Employee Advocacy

  • Create free publicity
  • Recruit like-minded employees
  • Generate leads
  • Get media coverage
  • Improve culture
  • Create more engaged employees
  • Humanize your brand
  • Improve brand recognition and visibility
  • Potentially reduce advertising expense
  • Foster a sense of group mission
  • Establish team members as industry leaders

That’s just 12.  There are dozens more.

Back to the Harvard Business Review article, the author suggests several two ways to help neutralize the negative effects of social media on employee retention, including creating social media groups where employee will be more likely to collaborate and less likely to complain, or signal they want to leave.  In addition, employee advocacy programs – guided by the company – can help shape the message and influence social conversations in a positive way

By creating a high-trust culture, you are investing in your employees and showing you trust them.  That goes a long way in building a dynamic culture that creates brand ambassadors.

Rewarding Your Employees

Celebrating employee success can be a powerful motivator.  Workers like to share and celebrate their co-workers.  It gives them a tighter bond and sense of group accomplishment.  Social sharing sends positive messages to your own team, potential employees, and can serve as lead generator.

Recruiting Customers

By having your employees share company news, accomplishment, and show pride in their organization, it also can recruit customers.  One effective technique is to provide a platform for curating industry and company content across various social networks and platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, Twitter, and Zapier.

Even the employees that aren’t directly involved in the sales cycle can help influence potential customers by posting positive information about your organization.  By providing positive content, including curating industry trends, your sales team can use social selling to increase their leads.  Research shows that 75% of sales reps that are equipped with good social selling tools will outperform their peers.

Setting Up the Employee Advocacy Program

You first need to establish your goals.  What do you hope to get out of the program.  Whether it’s improving your organic reach, trackable traffic to your website, or retention/recruitment of employees, you need to set your goals and develop your tracking mechanism.  This will help you craft the message and develop the plan.

Next, you need to clearly communicate the plan – including what benefits and incentives the employees will get.  If you can’t explain what they get out of doing it, they aren’t likely to engage.  Forcing the engagement doesn’t work.  It has to build organically from your employees.

Training your employees and providing them the tools they need to do the job is crucial.  If they aren’t social natives, this may be your biggest challenge.  Even for those that are social media power users, providing them ideas, content, and easy-to-use software tools can be the difference between success and failure.  Employee advocacy tools like Bambu can help with finding content and enabling social sharing in a simple manner that makes it easy.  Complex is your enemy here!

Finally, you need to monitor and maintain your program.  Without regular monitoring, it’s easy for it to become just one more thing they have to do.  The stakes are too high and the rewards are too great to let it slip.  Regular communication, recognition, and attention will keep it high on employee agendas.