There are two groups of people that will always have the best perspective on your business: your customers and your ground level employees. Any business owner that ignores that fact and doesn’t learn from these two groups is shooting themselves in the foot. When it comes to social media, the best content comes from where the rubber meets the road, not from marketers who haven’t a clue about the day to day operations of the business. That’s why it’s important to get your employees on board with your social media campaigns, and empower them to contribute.

I have a friend who works at a large bank here in Florida. She recently tweeted about a milestone at work – her one year anniversary. There was nothing bad about the tweet at all…my friend loves her job and was simply commenting in celebration more than anything. But, she received an email the next day from someone she didn’t know from the company, telling her that she shouldn’t tweet about the bank.

When she told me this, all I could do was laugh at how short sighted this bank is. What a great example of a company with an us vs. them mentality. What my friend’s tweet said about the company was that their employees are happy (at least before they get emails scolding them and realizing that big brother is watching their every move). Why would any company want to cover that up? A bank with an intelligent digital strategy would have retweeted or replied to that comment with a congratulations and an expression of how important their role is in the company.

It’s evident that this bank has a very poor digital marketing strategy and is losing massive opportunities for positive brand mentions and original content by attempting to gag their employees. It’s also worth noting that this bank has an abysmal social media presence, with their poorly updated Facebook and Twitter combining for less than 800 fans, no blog on their dated website, and virtually zero presence in search engine results.

Trying to gag your employees from posting about your company on social media is like trying to paddle upstream. You’re never going to win that battle. What your company should focus its efforts on is how you can capitalize on your employees mentions of the company, and how you can educate and guide them into contributing to your overall social media efforts.

Here are a few ideas on how to empower your employees to contribute valuable content:

Provide a place internally where employees submit ideas, stories, and other content.

This can be as informal as a “suggestion box” in the office, a dedicated email address where they can send them, or an elaborate internal social network. One example of how you could use this would be: an employee is creating a display with a new product you are carrying in store. They snap a photo of their display (with pride because they worked hard on it), make it look even better with some Instagram filters, and email it to the dedicated email address. Immediately you have store level, relevant content to post to your social media accounts. The added bonus is that employee can show off his work, and feel valued! Win win.

Allow employees to post about the company on their personal social media accounts.

This is a bit scary, but it’s the way things are headed and you need to embrace it! Most digital marketing and PR agencies can create social media policy for your employees. But what is tragic is that more often than not, these policies focus only on what the employee is prohibited from doing. What I like about what we do at Shift Digital is that we add a different spin to those employee social media policies. Yes, we naturally include restrictions that will protect the company, but we also encourage employees to use social media to promote the company as well. We guide them on how to do this properly, and give them ideas on what to post, and even train them on how to provide customer service or execute certain functions of their job description using social media.

Provide incentives or bonuses for valuable content.

Like I said earlier, your employees are on the ground, in the trenches, and they are the experts in their role. They would be the perfect people to provide stories about happy customers, case studies, answers to frequently asked questions, blog posts about products, event recaps, and more. Why not take advantage of that? Encourage employees to provide that type of in depth content, and then if it is valuable and used on the blog, reward them with a gift card for dinner, a bonus on their paycheck, or a few hours of vacation time…whatever works for you. If your company does trade outs this would be a great way to use them.

Work is a huge part of your employees lives. To think that they aren’t going to post about your company is naive, and to think they are only going to post negatively about your company exposes an “us against them” mentality that will kill your corporate culture.

How does your company empower employees to help out with social media? Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comment section!