With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d explore something certain companies are still afraid of: employee advocacy. Why does empowering employees on social media strike fear into some organizations? Because it involves making the active decision to give employees (as opposed to marketing and social media teams) a large amount of responsibility when it comes to communicating about the company, and in particular diffusing brand messages. Here are some of the most common reservations we’ve encountered, as well as how to face up to them.
“My Employees Don’t Want to Share Company Content”
Sometimes companies are reluctant to embrace employee advocacy because they’re afraid their employees won’t share brand content. But with so many business conversations now taking place on social media, it’s important that both parties understand how online communication plays an integral role in how both a company and its employees are perceived.
Having the opportunity to share company content on social networks allows employees to demonstrate their own expertise, develop a personal brand and position themselves as thought leaders. However, this doesn’t mean they’re already aware of this. In fact, they may be afraid of the overlap between personal and professional content, or worried about saying the wrong thing.
This is why training is an important aspect of any employee advocacy initiative, as it helps employees understand the impact sharing company content can have on their own personal brand and professional development. As for companies, what they should really be afraid of is reaching a point in the not so distant future when employees still aren’t engaged in brand communication on social media, and the company struggles to be heard on what is fast becoming the dominant business exchange environment.
“What if My Employees Generate Bad Buzz?”
Who’s afraid of big bad buzz? Well, lots of companies actually. After all, what if employees share content with the wrong people? What if they get into online arguments? What if they express a negative opinion about the company?
It’s important to address questions like this, but only because they cannot get in the way of what is an extremely beneficial method of communication. Social media is fast becoming the go-to place for people who want to connect with brands. So rather than being afraid of what employees might say, companies should see employee advocacy as an opportunity to provide the right training and empower employees as brand representatives online; an informed advocate community that doesn’t generate negative vibes, but actually makes the organization stronger in the face of bad buzz.
“Employee Advocacy Is Pricey and Time Consuming”
Make no mistake – employee advocacy is an investment of time and money. However, some platforms are cheaper than others and in any case, it’s an investment that’s worth making. The reason for this is clear: engaging employees in brand communication allows you to widen your audience, while at the same time targeting end users who are more likely to engage with brand content because it has been shared by someone they know.
Employee advocacy also has internal benefits; it makes it easy for your employees to stay informed about company-wide activity, empowers departments to share information about their respective activity, and drives a culture based on ownership and open communication.
“If I Launch Employee Advocacy, I’ll Lose Control of Brand Messages”
Some companies are afraid that employee advocacy will prevent them from controlling the brand image that is so carefully diffused through official accounts. But the fact is that in today’s increasingly competitive social media landscape, communicating via brand accounts alone isn’t enough to stay relevant. Companies therefore need to embrace the power of word of mouth marketing, user recommendations and brand advocacy by engaging individuals to vouch for the organization.
Engaging employees to share brand messages on their own social networks doesn’t just generate visibility; it boosts credibility. This is because social media users, who are often wary of ads, trust content that comes directly from people they know. With many people now looking to connect with a company through individual employees rather than official brand accounts, employee advocacy is the ideal way of organizing brand communication and providing training for employees, so that they can share content safe in the knowledge that what they say is in line with overall company messages.