It’s inevitable that employees will be sharing on social media and in fact, many companies are now investing resources to encourage their workforce to get online. Yet, the concept of getting employees active on social media or “employee advocacy” is not new and has been a growing marketing strategy for the last few years.

While there are a lot of benefits of encouraging employees to share via social media, it can also be a bit nerve-racking at first. However, to grow in the 21st century, leadership needs to get over that fear and recognize the power social media has in shaping their business.

However, if you are activating employees currently or considering it, there is still one other aspect you need to prepare for: you do not want everyone posting the exact same message or worse, constantly pushing a sales agenda on their networks.

Instead of seeing a positive affect, your workforce will be known as a bunch of spam-bots. Not what you want for the company you work for or for the company branding. However, this can be avoided if you follow the below tips.

Before Anything, Provide Clear Social Media Policy Guidelines

You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many companies still do not have a simple social media guideline in place or do not make it easy for employees to find (if they do have one).

Whether your company actively encourages social media advocacy or not, employees will be at some point engaging on social media. That could be on their company computer or via their mobile device while at work.

Because of that, you need a social media policy that is clear and simple. As well as easily accessible for employees and new hires to access at any point (not buried in a huge employee handbook). If you are encouraging employees to be on social, they need to not feel afraid to get involved and a policy will ensure they know their company’s stance.

Your ultimate goal is to build a sense of trust with your team and providing clear and accessible guidelines from the start will help ensure that.

Host Internal Social Media Training Workshops

Everyone is at a different level when it comes to their experience using social media or knowledge of particular platforms. If you are engaging in employee advocacy and getting employees on social, providing some training will be crucial.

This should not be required workshops, but be open to those interested in learning and understanding the best practices. These workshops, however frequent your company has them, will be good to teach the basics and ensuring no one is spamming or accidentally harassing their networks with sales agenda messages.

Additionally, by creating a unique training that allows for feedback and questions, you ensure your workforce outside of marketing is educated on social and is prepared to get involved if they so choose.

Create Interesting and Educational Content

A big challenge companies have, is there content is just not very good. By that I mean, it’s short, very general, or every post sounds like a sales pitch for your company’s product or service. With weak content, your company is already setting up your corporate accounts to be spammy, but also employees who might be interested in sharing on behalf of the company.

Do you constantly want to see your connections promoting and sharing a product or service every day? All it does it make you scroll past it faster, ignore it or even remove them as a connection.

This is where having a content strategy in place that has sufficient research done on your audience becomes important. It can be a time-consuming process at first to identify your prospects and researching your audience, but the results will speak for themselves.

You need content that addresses your specific industry, the challenges your buyers are facing, and information that is useful to various stages of the buyer’s journey. This type of content will not only be engaging to prospects but employees who can share content that does not just sounds like a sales pitch.

The goal is that employees should look knowledgeable, are trusted resources, and are seen as thought leaders by their social peers. They can’t do that if your company is not arming them with great content that is not just pushing a product or services.

Let Employees Personalities Shine Through

Another big challenge I’ve seen with large companies who do allow employees to get involved in social is sometimes their employees all sound robotic. There is no personality, unique take, or interesting thoughts to the social share. Instead, it all sounds like a corporate robot with everyone saying the same thing. Recently, Twitter annouced changes to help combat some of that as well.

This is not only boring to employees who are not going to feel like they are contributing, but to the audiences who will take notice to how mundane the social shares are. Everyone has a unique way of writing and has their own personality, they should be free to showcase that.

Of course, some basic guidelines should be in place (see the first point again), but allow employees to add their own thoughts or style to what they are sharing. People who are reading these social posts like to see an open dialogue and a unique voice. It builds the value of your employees, shows their engaging in the content, and audiences will appreciate the personal touch to the content.

Encourage Likes, Comments, & Re-shares Too

As employees ramp up getting involved in posting via their networks on your company behalf, you’ll want to encourage them to do more than just share content. It takes more than just posting content to generate website clicks, employees need to become a part of the social community.

Employees should also like other people’s content and updates, leave engaging comments, re-share people’s content, and generally be a part of the communities. A mistake that is often ignored is only focusing on employees sharing content, but the results are far better when the workforce is doing more than just daily content shares.

By getting involved in the social conversations, employees are standing out, showing their knowledge, and interests. This does not go unnoticed by their peers either, who will return the engagement and more likely to trust and click the content that is shared.

But this also humanizes employees more. They are getting involved outside of just constantly sharing content that looks “corporate” or has no unique individuality to it. Many times you’ll see some normal looking social accounts, but then you look at their timelines and every post is very bland content with no context and no other interactions. And generally, those types of accounts receive little to no engagement and appear very spammy.

Champion Employees to Share More Third-Party Content

While there is no doubt, you need a content strategy that will be interesting and educational for employees to share, you should not limit the content to just your company’s. Regardless, if the content is not promoting your own product or service, employees should feel free to share outside content too.

If you are not giving colleagues good third-party options or encouraging them to share outside sources, you are limiting how many employees might be willing to get active and the frequency of shares. Sharing quality third-party content shows your company as an industry leader that is on top of the latest trends, content, and industry-specific information. Essentially, your company should be seen as the leader in whatever industry you are in.

Yet third-party content shows no one is being one-sided when it comes to content, social connections get more of a feel for the views of employees, and it helps build more trust among their networks.

Additionally, you can use the third-party content as research to help shape the tone and voice of your own company content. When you see how people are responding or interacting with content, it can help guide your company content.

This typically tends to be the other challenge for companies, where they should be sharing somewhere between 60-75% third-party compared to their own content. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it continues to work for many businesses.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not your company is active in employee advocacy or uses a platform for employees to get involved in social media, employees will and do use social throughout the day. It’s important too that companies realize how important employees are to marketing and sales by getting employees involved in social media conversations.

Countless statistics have shown how having employees involved in social media benefits the growth of your company and the brand visibility. Yet, as you start activating employees or encouraging employees to get active, you’ll need to make sure they don’t portray themselves as spam-bots.

By following the above tips, your company will be well on its way to being a successful social media advocacy business like Dell or Electronic Arts where their employees are not seen as robotic spam-bots, but industry leaders.

Interested in getting employees active on social media and having them become powerful marketers, sellers, and recruiters? Download this guide to learn how to turn your workforce into a social media powerhouse.