Why should a business risk their employees sharing on social media in 2021?

Interest in employee advocacy has grown over the years and we’ve seen different types of programmes develop.

Many businesses don’t want to invest a lot of money into employee advocacy, mainly as they don’t feel they can justify the expense due to size of company. They want to test out the idea in a simple way before committing.

People often aren’t sure where to begin with employee advocacy. I regularly have conversations with clients who want to know what they can do to start to make a difference. 

In this series of blogs, I’ll break the steps down into 5 pillars. When put together, they will enable you to build the most successful employee advocacy programme tailored to you and your business. 

The 5 Pillars of employee advocacy

  • Purpose
  • Content
  • Recruitment
  • Motivation
  • Measurement

Follow these and you have the backbone to a successful advocacy programme, whatever the size of your business and team. 

Before we get onto the pillars, a quick intro, let’s start right at the beginning.

What is employee advocacy?

It’s when employees of an organisation share positive content, messages and stories about the organisation on their social media on a regular basis.

Makes sense, but that’s not usually the first question we are asked when we mention employee advocacy. The first question is almost always WHY?

  • Why would an employee do it? 
  • Why would they share for their business?
  • Why would a business risk their employees sharing brand content on social media?
  • Why does social media even matter?

Let’s work through these backwards:

Why does social media even matter?

Social media matters and will continue to matter, despite its downsides and ocassional bad press.

It will continue to change and evolve. New guidelines and laws will come in, new platforms will appear, new ways of connecting will continue to be discovered. People will find the platforms they’re most comfortable with and they’ll use them – and so will brands and businesses.

Social media will continue to play an increasingly important part of everyone’s communication and their experience of brands, products and services.

Why should a business risk their employees sharing on social media?

Social media is not going away. It will evolve and learn from its mistakes (hopefully) or at least be forced to but it is here.

Businesses of all sizes need to be on it. And while many are, it is more than that:

They need to be trusted.

One of the big issues at the moment in society is the huge decrease in trust. People trust brands and businesses less than they ever did.

In the Edelman Trust Barometer report for 2021, they’ve found: “a new era of information bankruptcy and a trust ecosystem unable to confront it.”

Businesses need to acknowledge that their content isn’t always going to be trusted  simply because it comes from their  brand. Businesses need to focus on guarding information quality to rebuild trust with consumers. 

Amazon and other ecommerce sites like Expedia have realised that their reviews aren’t always trusted and have made the rules more stringent for their inclusion.

What Edelman Trust Barometer does say is that people still trust people like them. They trust experts  – and this includes employees who are in charge of delivering a service or product

They want to see authenticity, not people re-sharing polished branded messages or perfect images. 

Why would employees share brand content?

Why would the employees do it? A fair question. For many people they just can’t see why an employee would want to talk about work on social media.

Imagine you’re writing an email to a colleague inviting them to become an employee advocate for your organisation.

  • What would you say?
  • How would you describe employee advocacy to them?
  • What benefits would you offer them for getting involved?

People often get stuck on what the benefits they can offer. They struggle to explain why an employee would do it.

They end up relying on factors to try to motivate them such as rewards or prizes.

But our own research has shown that offering these kinds of monetary rewards to inspire action has a poor result. If people can’t see why they should do something, a gift can be a low motivator.

And if it does succeed in motivating people to join, they are more likely to drop out quickly once the initial buzz over the launch of the programmes subsides.

What makes the difference is PURPOSE.

We think it’s one of the most important success factors in employee advocacy but it is one that is often overlooked. 

More on this from us in our next article, Why purpose should be at the heart of your employee advocacy programme.

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