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How employees help shape the corporate conversation through social media

Social media is one of the toughest things for many businesses to embrace and master. Early adopters usedit mostly to share light-hearted, fun content, and indeed, businesses asocial_media_conversationre still figuring out how to optimize it to drive strategic business goals. Even so, many businesses are reluctant to get

employees involved with their social media initiatives. They simply don’t understand the value that employees can bring or, worse, are paranoid about headaches their employees could cause on social media.
But the reality is that employee participation on social media – known as employee advocacy – offers a powerful opportunity for businesses to exponentially expand the reach of their social media initiatives and, perhaps best of all, to do it using the employees they already have on the payroll. Through employee advocacy, employees learn to share and post content on their personal social media accounts that significantly broadens the reach of their employer’s brand and messaging. Here are important advantages of allowing employees to help shape the corporate conversation through social media:

1)    Employees merge a personal pastime with professional goals: No matter how hard a business works to keep employees off social media while at work, the strategy never works well. Instead, when businesses embrace social media and encourage employees to use it to advance strategic business goals, it’s no longer a losing battle to keep these employees off social media. These same employees are now using their personal social media accounts – and the time they were once “wasting” on social media – to think strategically about how to use their unique, personal followings on social media to advance their business interests. Simply put, it’s a win-win situation.

2)     Employees evolve into thought leaders: Thought leaders are the social media-savvy employees who begin developing their own unique followings by writing about news and trends within their industry. And thought leadership organically develops through participation in corporate social media initiatives. As employees gain more confidence and experience sharing and posting company content, they develop their own voice and judgment about how to convey to others what is most interesting, relevant and timely within a particular industry.

3)     Employees protect and defend the brand: Social media is a place for anyone with an Internet connection to dish out unfiltered, uncensored chatter. For businesses, that means they can become the targets of unfair, incomplete, irresponsible, skewed criticisms and disparagement on social media. Hence, when a business can count on a team of skilled employee advocates to help shape and reshape social-media chatter, the business stands much better odds of being able to control and bring balance to what’s being said.

Businesses that learn to let go of their nervousness about employee participation on corporate social media are poised to immediately being taking advantage of the many benefits of employee advocacy. Indeed, employees who become effective social-media advocates become key players in achieving strategic business goals, merge their personal pastime with professional interests, evolve into thought leaders, and protect and defend the brand over the long term.

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