Getting your employees to communicate on your behalf and transforming them into brand advocates begins not with technology or social media guidelines or platforms. It begins with culture.
Social media communication is, basically, a super-fast version of word-of-mouth advertising. Employees have lives. They have families and friends, and they talk, sometimes directly, through a slew of different social media channels. Most important, their voices are more powerful and far-reaching than ever before.
What they say and tweet and post is a reflection of how they feel. Do they like their companies? Are they proud of the work they do? Do they feel valued and rewarded?
Unfortunately, the answers to these questions aren’t as positive as most companies may think.
“According to the latest State of the American Workplace Report, 70 percent of U.S. workers don’t like their job, creating an environment where many workers are emotionally disconnected from their workplace and less productive than engaged counterparts.”
Let that number sink in: 70% of workers don’t like their jobs. Now apply that 70% to channels like Facebook or Twitter, and the potential for harmful or disruptive messaging about their employers is frightening.
So what can companies do to create a strong culture and empower their employees to advocate on their behalf?
1. Get your people involved
In other words, collaborate with your team members and form a unified messaging strategy together
2. Transparent leadership
Top-level executives should lead — and post — by example. From the corner office to the company mailroom, every member of your team should share the same philosophy and practice what they preach online.
3. Reward adoption
Post. Reward. Repeat. It’s a simple, winning formula for your employees and your company. The best places to work understand how to engage and empower their employees and create strong, committed cultures. Easier said than done, of course. But there are a few prime examples of established corporations using communications to improve morale
Take Cisco. For a long time, the company used a traditional top-down approach to communicate with its people. This worked fairly well when they focused on designing and making tools. But as they began to develop and sell more consultative solutions, they realized that they needed to tap into their collective intelligence in a different way. Today, Cisco embraces an open crowd-sourcing approach to engaging their people, using an internal-facing communications platform that amplifies employees’ voices.
Southwest Airlines is a little different. While not a technology company, they are very much a service company that works hard to understand and connect with its customers. And they use a number of digital communications channels to do this. It’s not uncommon to see Southwest use its’ blog network to share customer-voiced stories about the company’s employees.
Or consider Dell’s approach to social media guidelines. The company does not focus on saying no or placing restrictions on language. Instead, they take a we-trust-you-to-be-adults approach that engenders trust and respect by asking them to follow three simple rules:
1. When using social media, protect confidential Dell information
2. Be transparent, have fun, and connect
3. Includes social media account ownership
The key to building stronger employee social communications is not complicated. It’s a natural result of fostering a strong, positive corporate culture and allowing employees to share their experiences in their own words, in the channels they’re already using. Sometimes that culture moves from the inside out, like Cisco and, to an extent, Dell. Other times, it’s about constant external connections that reflect values, like Southwest.
In each case, the company has created the right foundation and then stepped back to allow their people to go forth, be happy, and chat.