Social media platforms have always been built with relationships between people at their core. This has allowed people to create vast networks of connected friends, business contacts and acquaintances on these platforms, which in turn enables the users to communicate directly to large audiences with minimal effort. In short, social media has granted everyone the possibility to broadcast their message.
For businesses this means that all of their employees who have social media profiles are also potential communications channels. We have found that on LinkedIn alone the amount of unique employee first degree connections is usually over 10 times greater than the amount of people following the company. This means that if all the employees were to send a status update to their network, the company would be reaching over 10 times more people than with just a company status update. In this case the message would also reach the audience from a trusted source instead of coming directly from a company. Furthermore, employees understand the business well and are great representatives of the organization to their networks.
How can organizations use these networks for business benefit?
The answer is Employee Advocacy, where employees are encouraged to share content on behalf of the company. Here are a few things to keep in mind before getting started:
- Employee advocacy MUST be based on voluntary participation. Remember that these are personal networks of employees that they have built over time. Remember to respect their privacy if they do not wish to participate.
- Employees want to know why they should participate and what the benefits will be for the business and them personally. The employer should clearly communicate both the business and personal benefits of participation.
- Employee time is valuable so sharing should be made as easy and convenient as possible.
- Nothing is free. The employer should reward employees for participation as they are willing to use their own networks for business benefit.
What are the benefits of leveraging employees’ social networks for business?
There are many answers to this question depending on the desired outcome, but the underlying concepts behind these are not new. Word of mouth is the oldest and most effective communications channel that social media has just bought to a new age. The benefits are well known and recognized but are not yet fully applied to social media. As I and my colleagues have discussed many of these benefits in earlier blog posts, I won’t go into much detail this time. Here are some key areas that will certainly benefit from the activation of employee networks:
From an HR perspective:
From a Marketing and Communications perspective:
- Increasing reach of communications
- Lead generation
- Credibility of the messages
- Creating conversations
How to start?
At Smarp we have been helping companies with a specific focus on employee social media use for years. Based on our experience and client needs we have created an online tool called Smarp Share that allows employers to easily create content they would like their employees to share, track the sharing, and reward employees accordingly. For employees this provides a quick and convenient way to share company related updates to their networks with minimal time and effort and get rewarded for it. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.