There’s been far too much focus of late on the ways employee use of social media creates a company risk. Yes, misuse of social media on the job is a problem. But embarrassing gaffes, risk of information leakage and wasted time are only one side of the social business/social media coin. And they are usually voiced by those who have never liked, mentioned, shared, +1’d or sold things themselves.
Consider the opposite possibility.
Properly used, employee social media shares on behalf of your company – the new category called Employee Advocacy, a subset of the hottest new segment of sales called Sales Acceleration – can turn your employee base into a veritable communications and social selling engine instead.
Which alternative would you rather have?
Consider some of the organizations that currently have established and emerging employee advocacy programs in place. Adobe, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, SAP, IBM. These are just a few of the organizations currently making use of this new category of sales and marketing wealth. My own company, InsideSales.com, is heavily exploring this exciting new world after our research continues to show that referrals are by far the best lead source, and your non-sales employees are a huge source of untapped opportunity.
Two of the category’s experts, Chris Boudreaux and Susan F. Emerick, have written a definitive book on the concept, The Most Powerful Brand on Earth. It is well worth the read. To evaluate how much difference an Employee Advocacy program could make to your own social media, you can find Emerick’s advice on the subject here.
So does an Employee Advocacy program work by “guilting” the company’s captive audience—it’s employees—into using their personal networks to hawk the company’s wares?
Not at all.
A great Employee Advocacy program trains and invites its employees (and other advocates such as key customers, advisors and partners) to share information as they are comfortable and see fit for purposes such as the following, as Boudreaux and Emerick have advised:
- Awareness, of issues surrounding the company’s industry and brand
- Campaigns. This includes contests, offers and information that scales through social media such as Dell’s 2013 Super Bowl ad, which it released and shared only through digital channels including social media.
- Support. Why not allow your customer-facing employees to share their knowledge on issues with their personal networks? For example, consider Google’s Matt Cutts. As an expert on all things related to Google’s algorithms and updates, it only makes sense that he’d post the information he shares to his personal networks (and that other employees would re-post and share it) in addition to posting through the company’s official channels alone. Information spreads faster and employees gain in stature and value this way.
- Talent. Imagine how a job search shared by the company’s employees could accelerate the recruitment process. In some companies, these notices are the primary means or even the only method for finding great applicants for certain of their upcoming jobs.
A great Employee Advocacy program requires training, of course. And the methods of sharing and measuring employee social media results is vital as well. A spectrum of platforms are emerging to make the job easier to manage and measure.
Using a platform that provides ample flexibility and ease of sharing is vital, and of course, the ability to monitor and measure results is an imperative benefit as well.
As you think about your own potential program consider these results–-one of the emerging platform providers headquartered in Utah – EveryoneSocial.com – conducted some comparative research on a randomly-selected subset of 10,000 software users across a variety of industries.
The company compared the standard method of social sharing by clicking on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn buttons within an email, and by letting employees use the mentioned social sharing platform.
Messages were shared 38 times more frequently with a platform designed to make it easy versus a company email.
I recently did a joint webinar with Sean Burke, the Chief Revenue Officer of Kitedesk, who shared that if a company can leverage the network of the average everyday employee, they will tap into 2500 people they might not have otherwise.
In summary, you are probably ignoring the value your employees could bring to your social media and social sharing strategies. And you are definitely ignoring the potential value by not making it easy.
And as the category of Employee Engagement fully emerges, if you facilitate your employees to use this concept to its fullest advantage, you may gain access to one of the world’s most committed, aligned, and imaginative social selling and social media tools… your own team.