As a stakeholder in your company’s brand, you’ve likely experienced some level of stress about handing off part of your brand management to your employees. It’s easy to see why giving employees access to your brand on social would be scary – you never know what they might post – but the real question is, does it need to be?
To put it bluntly, the answer to this question should be no. But that no comes with an caveat—to reduce your stress level about giving employees “free rein” to promote your brand on social, you’ll first need to give them the proper resources and guidelines so that both you and they feel comfortable.
First, let’s talk why you’d want to open up your social presence to employees in the first place. Without opening up your brand’s promotion to a wide cross-section of employees, you’re likely going to have a relatively generic social presence. While your marketing team probably lives and breathes social, constantly thinking of new ways to spread brand awareness and company thought leadership (meaning they might even be a little burnt out when it comes to social…), the rest of your employees may view social media as a fun, exciting new part of their job.
This could have different meaning for different departments. For a sales team, this might mean a new way to engage with prospects through social selling. For a development team, this might mean being able to engage with real world users for feedback. But for all employees, it means a way to connect more deeply with the brand.
As you’re letting your employees enjoy a great new aspect to their jobs, you’ll also be building a great brand reputation. Posts by everyday employees are far more effective in promoting your brand than any company social media post. When employees read and share company content, they’ll each be able to put their own personal spin on it, all while reaching hundreds of people your company page might never have touched.
Encouraging employees all across the company to engage on social media can also help put current and prospective customers in touch with industry experts. Instead of posting to some faceless Facebook page and hoping for an answer, your customers will be able to interact with real people who’ll be able to offer real insights.
Now that you can see the benefits of encouraging employee social sharing, you should take some time to develop guidelines before you dive in head first. The “right” guidelines for social media will depend on your company’s structure and culture. With a smaller company, one where each employee has likely been deeply vetted to make sure they embody the company mission, you may not need formal social guidelines—you may be able to cover expectations in a few company “lunch and learn”-style sessions. For a larger company, where a cultural shift may need to take place, a written social policy or handbook would be necessary. No matter the forum, these guidelines should include the rules of the road, sample posts for different social forums to understand the nuances, an understanding of the brand voice, as well as potentially basic instructions for how and when to post as well as which type of content is appropriate for which forum.
Your social presence should be unique to your company, and your employees are a huge part of that. Having employees engage with and represent your brand on social can be scary, but it can also be incredibly successful, adding dimension and color to your social presence that’s impossible to achieve otherwise. Above all, remember that just by hiring these employees, you’ve put your faith in them to represent your brand—and going social is just the modern version of that.