Sometimes management can be a bit… shall we say, skeptical… when the topic of employee advocacy comes up. They fear that giving their employees a voice can turn into a bad thing. This insecurity is especially misplaced when you consider that employee advocacy is meant to help extend your brand reach, and in some situations it can be a precursor to social selling—a practice where employees leverage their personal networks to gather leads.
People in your company may have misgivings about employee advocacy, but they can easily be solved with a little effort and planning.
Fear #1: I don’t know what this is supposed to accomplish.
If you don’t have or don’t know the goal of the advocacy program, address that as soon as possible. Be clear on the desired result because that is what will determine how you should shape your policies and strategies and how much value such a program will bring to your company.
Strategic goals could be to make your company more attractive to job applicants or to increase your company’s brand presence. But balance these macro goals with tactical micro-goals, such as improving applications by 10% in a year, or have an internal participation rate of 50%.
Fear #2: I don’t know what they’re saying.
Traditionally employers would never be able to know everything an employee said about their workplace—unless they hired a private detective!
But times have changed, and employees are deserving of management’s trust. According to one study on employee activism, 39% of employees have praised their employers and spoken positively of their work on social media, and most of them (33%) do it without employer intervention whatsoever. With a little more encouragement and direction, you can channel this enthusiasm to boost the company’s reputation.
Fear #3: Employees don’t talk about what I want them to talk about.
Managers sometimes want to micromanage what their employees say on social media, which is exactly the wrong approach to take. Doing so basically removes any sort of authenticity from employee’s social media feeds, which is critical if you want your advocacy efforts to be taken seriously by the public. Nobody will find it believable if your employees sound like robots.
Instead of authoritarian rules, create a social media policy and establish guidelines on how you want your brand represented. Give your employees something to talk about: Share product updates or future plans, keep a public company events calendar, and organize company parties or workshops.
You can try to steer the conversation by offering templated, pre-generated posts or content that employees can easily share. But grant your employees the freedom choose what they want to write about and how they want to say it.
Fear #4: They’ll say something that’ll get us in trouble.
One of the biggest fears management has with employees posting on social media is the potential for horror stories. Someone posts something offensive or inappropriate, for instance, or a disgruntled employee voices a complaint. But there are measures that can help mitigate this.
A social media screening and approval process can ensure that posts are reviewed prior to being released. Setting up social media monitoring apps and processes can also go a long way to intercepting troublesome posts before they escalate.
But overall, you can lessen those risks by approaching the employee advocacy program with the right state of mind and by implementing the necessary tools and policies. Once those are in place, you can let your employees loose on social media with peace of mind.