Over the course of my 3+ years at LinkedIn, I’ve noticed a sizeable shift in the questions I receive from companies about their employees on our site. Back in 2011, I heard concern from managers about having their employees on LinkedIn – a worry that they would be poached by other organizations. But today, I’m happy to report that I am now asked more and more frequently about how companies can take advantage of their employees on LinkedIn and turn them into brand ambassadors for the company.
If you have the same question in mind, the following tips should help you get started:
1. Encourage your employees to use social media:
No one wants to feel like their employer is watching over their shoulder, waiting to catch them sharing something on social media that shouldn’t be shared. You need to create a culture within your company that is supportive of employee engagement on social media. My favorite example of this comes from down under. After a meeting with LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, the CEO of ANZ, Mike Smith, sent a company-wide email to his employees touting the value of LinkedIn and asking his employees to get involved. He made it very clear that he wanted people to get out there and start engaging.
2. Communicate frequently:
Your employees want to hear from you because communication is one of the top factors that can create brand ambassadors. When you have information you want to share, make sure you are sharing it on multiple channels, multiple times. For example, not everyone is going to read an email, join a company-wide meeting, and check their intranet, but chances are they will do one of those things. Be very transparent about what people can share and what needs to stay internal. If your employees feel like they’re “in-the-know” and that you trust them, they will act appropriately.
3. Make it easy:
Give your employees content to share; it’s as simple as that. Direct your employees to follow your company on social media sites and share out your updates with their networks. Also, when you share news with your employees (typically via email), include some pre-formulated status updates and suggest that they use them when posting on social media. This will save time for them and give employees the extra nudge to share.
Want your employees to have a consistent voice across social media? Provide them with a suggested sentence or two about your company that they can add to their social media profiles. This makes it very easy for them to represent their employer when networking with other people.
4. Train your employees:
Not everyone feels comfortable with social media, and that’s ok. However, you can help your employees feel more at ease and more confident about social media if you provide training. No one (that I know of) does this better than Dell. Through their Social Media and Community University, they have trained thousands of their employees who now are brand ambassadors on Dell’s behalf. You can read more about their program in this earlier blog post. And even if you don’t have the resources for formal training program, hold brown bag lunch ‘n’ learns, work it into your new hire orientation, and send tips to your employees. Even a little training and guidance can go a long way.
5. Customize your game plan:
Not every employee is the same, and different types of people require different tactics in order to turn them into brand ambassadors. But how do you know what types of employees and social media users you have at your company? How can you identify them? Weber Shandwick recently published a great whitepaper entitled “Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism” that identifies six types of employees (ProActivists, PreActivists, HyperActives, ReActivists, Detractors, InActives) and provides insight into how to approach each type.
Mobilizing your employees on social media is not something that happens overnight. The tips above, however, should get you started on the right path.