You don’t need to ask IT whether your coworkers are on social media during the workday. It’s like asking if they are breathing.

And that can be a great thing. Studies have shown that employees can post, tweet, and pin and still perform at peak levels—maybe even more productively than their less plugged-in counterparts.

Instead of instilling policies to try to prevent team members from using social media at work, more and more companies are incorporating their employees’ social media enthusiasm into their marketing.

When your team is on social media all day anyway, it’s only a short step to engage employees in social media marketing and create new social media ambassadors for your company.

engage employees in social media

The data behind engaging your team with social media

Many companies have a community manager and content team, but there are plenty of benefits to going further and empowering the whole team to spread the word via social media—namely, more engaged employees reaching a larger network to share your culture and news.

Here’s a look at some of the data:

  • According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the Global Workplace survey, just 13 percent of worldwide employees say they are engaged at work.

Gallup poll engaged at work

  • The same study discovered that 50% of employees are posting messages, pictures or videos in social media about their work, and a third of them are doing so without any encouragement from their employer.

Employee activities on social media

With just a bit of guidance, brands can expand their social media reach as well as their employees’ happiness by involving them in social media strategy.

The 5 steps that transformed our social strategy

At 15Five, we shifted our social media strategy several months ago to leverage the entire team. As a result, we have seen a dramatic increase of traffic to our homepage and our blog, and an increase in leads.

Here are the 5 simple steps that we put in place that any company can replicate:

1. Develop a persona

With thousands of diverse customers and followers on social media, how do we know who we are talking to: managers, directors, executives, or front-line employees?

With marketing and customer success taking the lead, we held an all-hands brainstorm session to develop a target persona.

We sketched out a real person including details such as what he does for work, how he enjoys downtime, even what kind of car he drives and what he eats for breakfast. We shared this with the entire team so they know who they’re trying to reach on social channels.

An example of a persona sketch

2. Create a social media repository

While employees can of course post our company’s content to their own social networks, we also want them to feel free to contribute their ideas and thoughts for posts on our company pages.

We created a “Social Media Content” board on Trello and encouraged employees to drop in interesting files, images, memes, questions, and links. This allows our social media manager to pull from a rich, diverse repository of content.

social media repository

3. Resources and encouragement trump rules and regulations

When we first brought up the Trello board of social media content to the team, we didn’t want to overwhelm them so the ask was casual: “Don’t go out of your way searching for images or articles. As you discover things of interest, just drop the file or link in the appropriate place in the Trello board. And feel free to snap a pic of team outings.”

We didn’t want to transform something fun into just another task on their to-do lists by instituting policy, so we decided to let employees know that the practice was appreciated and encourage them to keep comments and posts truthful and positive.

This lines up with the tactics most brands are using to encourage social media activism in their employees:

how employers encourage social media activism

Empower employees to be themselves

As your employees promote your company, values, and culture on their own social media accounts, make sure they are empowered to maintain their individual, unique voices. Genuine posts are more important than marketing language. Just encourage them to be honest and portray the company in a positive light as they add their own spin to a post or topic.

employees sharing socially example

Export your culture as well as your product

A strong culture translates through social channels and raises brand perception across the board. Employees might share images of the company picnic, the latest happy hour, and other fun outings just like they do in their personal lives.

export your company culture

4. Maintain a consistent voice

Once your content is in a central location, your brand ambassador or content manager can post it, optimizing to encourage conversation and click-throughs. (Your community manager might do a final review to keep the voice consistent and on-brand.)

maintain consistent voice

5. Share social media stats so team members can see their impact

When team members can see that an article they found or a comment they wrote increased site traffic or sales, they will feel pride in their contributions and will be more likely to continue to share.

Using Buffer allows us to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, and Buffer converts all links to buff.ly format so that it’s easy to analyze their performance. (Want awesome social analytics like David? Check out Buffer now!)

We use the data to understand which types of posts resonate with our audience on each social media platform. We also increase performance of posts by looking at what time of day and which days of the week have a greater impact.

social media analytics

Google Analytics is also fantastic for seeing the impact of social referrals on generating leads:

google analytics

 

Conclusion

Savvy employees are reading about your vertical, your competitors, and trends in the industry. They know which articles and blog posts are most relevant to your brand. Your employees are well versed in your marketing language and product positioning.

It just takes a little nudge to get them to share—and a little encouragement could make a big difference. Employees with socially-encouraging employers are significantly more likely to help boost sales than employees whose employers aren’t socially encouraging (72% vs. 48%, respectively).

employees sharing with encouragement and without

Leverage your employees’ desire to share their lives—including their work–on social media. Once you put a system in place, your social media presence will grow rapidly.

How do you engage employees in social media marketing? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Written by David Hassell

David Hassell is the founder and CEO of 15Five, the leading web-based employee feedback and alignment solution.  Named “The Most Connected Man You Don’t Know in Silicon Valley” by Forbes Magazine, David has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Inc., Entrepreneur, Wired, Fast Company, and Financial Post.  You can learn more about 15Five and David Hassell at www.15five.com.

  • This is a great idea. We’ve done this a bit with LinkedIn, but you provide some great tips for the more “casual” sites. It’s important for companies to leverage the trends in social media to help boost their presence–as well as encourage employees to feel comfortable sharing their opinions and thoughts.

    • I think David did a great job, too! LinkedIn is a great one to start with and see how it goes; smart strategy!

  • Nick Razzette

    This is a great guide to turning the social media “threat” in a company into a true strength. Also appreciate that the 5 steps that transformed your strategy is a true guide that can be used by most companies that are looking to strengthen their own approach.

    • Thanks for reading, Nick! I agree; the five steps are quite applicable to almost any brand. I particularly love the Trello board; really smart!

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  • Megan

    Social media is often perceived as a threat to businesses,
    however, I agree completely with this article in the sense that if social media
    is used correctly, it can be a very useful marketing and growth tool. Many
    companies are now adopting the approach mentioned in the article, whereby
    employees are encouraged to use various social media platforms to promote a
    product or brand. The five steps mentioned in the article are applicable to
    nearly any company, making this a relevant and useful article to almost anyone
    in the business world. I feel that this
    positive view of social media should be expanded to more companies, as social
    media and technology are quickly becoming the future. The old ways of thinking
    about social media as a threat should be eliminated.

  • Super! I completely agree. Instead of Trello we use Brightpod.com’s editorial and blogging calendar.

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  • sheila

    Any follow up articles and how-to-implement: verbage, outline on encouraging employees to post within the corporate voice?

    • Thanks for the comment, Sheila! These sound like great ones to tackle maybe in a followup post? I really appreciate your nudge in this direction!

  • Guest

    Hi guys. We experiens the same poblem now and we clearly see that our brand needs our employees. We usually send mails with the latest updates from our blog and tag them in facebook. The results are not very satisfying though. the levels of interest are still very low.
    Thank you for the practical advices, we`ll certainly try them.
    I`m waiting for the next article.

  • Monika Donkina

    Hi guys. We experience the same poblem now and we clearly see that our
    brand needs our employees. We usually send mails with the latest updates
    from our blog and tag them in facebook. The results are not very
    satisfying though. The levels of engagement are still very low.
    Thanks for the practical advices, we`ll certainly try them.
    I`m waiting for the next article.