When brands ask their employees to share company news or content, most do it as a courtesy to their employer. Often, team members blindly share stories their company publishes less out of personal interest but more because of professional obligation. Though motivating them isn’t a problem, the biggest challenge is in getting their friends and followers to actually click, enjoy and engage with your brand’s articles, e-books and infographics.

To overcome this, businesses must encourage team members to be selective about the stories they share to ensure their message is distributed to an interested and qualified audience. Also, companies will want to educate employees on how to present branded content to their social connections in an engaging manner. Here are 4 tips to pass along to your employees.

Highlight personal involvement

On social media, many organic interactions happen when people talk about themselves: what they eat for lunch, where they travel, how they feel about current events, and what’s new at their jobs are common topics of discussion.

But often, when they share company news, they quickly re-share that content without giving it much thought or context. To share stories in an authentic and engaging manner, team members will want to highlight their personal relationship to the article, image, video, or infographic their company created, prefacing links with a few sentences explaining how the story relates to or impacts them.

Emphasize why employees’ networks should care

In the networked age, audiences are increasingly selective about the stories they consume. This is partly due to the fact that social media users are inundated with content. According to data from social media analytics firm Beehive, the average Twitter user follows 102 people. On Facebook, the average user has 338 friends, concludes a survey by Pew Research Center.

With so much competition for audience attention, people need to explicitly emphasize the value of the content they share to demonstrate authenticity and drive engagement. Before your team members publish a post to social media, have them consider the following questions:

  • How does this piece of news impact my friends, family members and followers?
  • What does this article teach readers? Is this something my social connections want to learn?
  • Does it strike an emotional chord because it touches on personal or societal issues?

That way, sharers can thoughtfully share news their audiences will likely click and read.

Be a bit vulnerable

Social media users appreciate the nitty gritty details about the personal and professional lives of their peers. Often, they are motivated less by the desire to gossip than an eagerness to understand other’s situations and to be able to relate to the people they know.

To improve the impact of your employee advocacy programs, your team members should share both the successes they have and hardships they face at work. Although doing so leaves them — and your brand — a bit vulnerable, it helps individuals create honest and transparent content their social connections will want to consume.

Share content with a limited audience

For brands, social media offers opportunity to reach massive audiences with minimal budget and effort. But an emphasis on organic reach sometimes comes at the cost of engagement. So when managers ask their colleagues to share branded content on social media, coworkers respond by posting links publicly across their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Reddit accounts. Counterintuitively though, businesses drive better results when they ask team members to share content privately with individuals they know will appreciate it.

In an article for Content Marketing Institute, Luis Aguilar explains, “Content marketing efforts can improve by recognizing that another substantial and different kind of sharing is occurring via [private sharing] methods…. It tends to be content offering high value to recipients because it comes from people who know them well enough to tailor a content recommendation.” Aguilar adds, “[Private sharing] activity differs markedly from public social media sharing, which trends toward lower levels of relevance and higher levels of virality.”

Two ways users can do this on Facebook are:

  • Post a status update with custom privacy settings and choose or tag a select group of friends to share the story with.
  • Send friends a private message with the link to company news.

On Twitter, people may:

  • Use the @mention function to personally share news with individuals who may enjoy your brand’s content.
  • Send qualified users a direct message.

Similarly, your social advocates can forward the article to friends or family members over email or text message. When content is shared through private communications, recipients feel a more personal connection to the sharer and the story.