The Influencer Whisperer's Guide to Employee Advocacy Using Social Media
For employees to become true brand ambassadors, they must know what a company stands for, not just what a company does. Only then can they communicate that message to other employees, friends and family, potential employees and external stakeholders.
Why is it important for current employees to know company values?
Focusing on values communication within an organization can impact a company in two ways:
Employees internalize and begin to demonstrate these values when they can talk about them on their own. Reminding employees of common values helps build internal relationships on a solid foundation that moves the company forward.
On the recruitment front, company values can be an important story to tell potential candidates. They can experience part of the culture before they ever step foot into an interview, and that job candidate walks away from the experience with a greater understanding of company ideals and a better idea of whether or not that place is the right fit.
Communicating these values internally makes sure that everyone, whether new to the company or a 25-year veteran, gets off on the right foot and the same foot. When employees talk about company values in their own language, it can lead to increased levels of camaraderie, boosted momentum and morale, a sense of teamwork and cooperation, and an ownership of company culture.
How can values turn employees into advocates?
Utilizing social media channels is one of the easiest ways to do this. Think low-hanging fruit. Just as values communicated internally can impact HR’s outreach to potential employees, values communicated externally can inspire current employees to share the company’s value messaging with outside stakeholders, friends, family or even on their social networks. This simple act turns your employees into influential brand ambassadors.
Using Social Media for Values-Focused Outreach to Employees
Create a social media editorial calendar, if you don’t have one already, and lay out each value week by week or month by month to make sure the most important information is accounted for. From there, create individual tactics, guidelines and deadlines for employee contribution. In this step, you can decide which channels are most important. A mix of internal channels (Slack, Facebook groups, etc.) and external channels (social networks, company blog) are recommended for maximum impact.
Conduct interviews with current employees about company values and use their quotes and anecdotes from their experiences in values communications. Employees’ responses show what the values mean personally and are the most authentic, human expression of them. Direct quotes ensure that each employee personalizes the information that’s important to them, and they can be a powerful use of storytelling. Allow every employee to have a voice in shaping the culture and encourage everyone to use that voice.
Incorporate a mix of videos and still imagery for maximum impact on social media channels and to cater to employees’ preferences. By using video, imagery, quotes and other types of content, your company can be seen as creative and human, and employees will be more willing to share on their own networks. Find out where your employees are most comfortable sharing, whether Instagram or Facebook or some other social site, and encourage them to do so. Some employees may be wary of sharing information from the company on their own networks, but the right type of content will inspire them to do so naturally.
Feature and tag individuals from all levels of the company, not just leadership, in your posts. While messages from administrators can often feel like mandates, incorporating employees from various levels can make this effort feel more authentic and genuine. This leads to increased levels of ownership and engagement, as well additional exposure for your brand on social networks. Find ways to highlight employees, as well as their contributions to the organization, through this effort.
Measure the impact of communicating values through social media. Create reports that show engagement levels before and after this initiative. Identify KPIs that show whether you’re successful and communicate those to leadership and HR teams so they can see progress and ROI in the form of sentiment, reputation management, online mentions or anything else deemed appropriate.
Challenges to Employee Outreach and Advocacy
Like many internal and external communications efforts, reaching out to employees has potential barriers to success. Here are a few typical challenges to a values communications program and how to work around them for maximum impact.
Authenticity: Communicating the company’s culture in a calculated way can look forced, especially if the interview process mentioned earlier seems too guided. One way to work through this is to make these types of interviews a regular occurrence, bringing in different employees each time to offer their own perspectives on company values.
Introversion: It is important to consider employees’ feelings prior to the creation of any content. Many people aren’t comfortable being in the spotlight or being interviewed on camera. Some prefer not to be photographed either. Open communication, including expectations, can help to alleviate any hesitancy or shyness when it comes to being interviewed.
Geography: Organizations with more than one location can present their own set of challenges. But employees from all locations should be included to ensure no one feels left out or that their location doesn’t matter to the overall company mission.
Production: Video equipment, cameras and other resources are an important part of the content creation process. Many organizations are well equipped to handle this kind of production in-house, while others may need to outsource or hire teams to produce image and video content.
Time: For our organization, it is difficult to find the time to market ourselves when other work – client work – often takes priority. A certain amount of lead time must be given to circumvent any prior work or tasks that are going to be taking place at the same time. It’s normal for an initiative this size to take weeks, or even months, to get off the ground due to busy schedules.
Is a values-focused communications program right for my organization?
Having a common set of values we all live, work and hire by is a key component in creating a company culture.
If company values are an important part of your company’s culture, creating a similar program is a must. Through careful planning and consideration of employees’ time and contributions, these tactics can not only boost awareness of values, but also become an important step in turning your employees into powerful brand advocates.