When we talk about branding products, services, or even your overall company, we typically think about traditional marketing routes, such as print or web-based advertising. However, businesses are increasingly harnessing the power of social media to promote their products through the power of social media marketing and are leveraging their employees to engage in these platforms to further broaden their reach.
But before we go on, let’s first define social media marketing. Previously referred to as e-marketing or digital marketing, social media marketing simply refers to the use of social media platforms and other websites to promote goods and services. The pop-up ads you see on Facebook, the Instagram suggested content, the LinkedIn articles, and even the Tik-Tok product reels in your feed? These are all forms of social media marketing and their return on investment is sky-high, with 71 percent of consumers suggesting that they would be more likely to purchase a product based on a social media referral. Moreover, when compared to traditional marketing, social media marketing has the potential for a far broader reach, especially if you get your employees on board. You see, the average LinkedIn user, for example, boasts 980 connections, meaning that if even just a handful of your employees shared a post to their page, it could reach literally thousands of eyes. By comparison, corporate social media accounts have only about one-fifth of these connections, so are already starting off with a far smaller potential audience.
So how do you get your employees engaged in social media marketing? Read on to learn our top tips:
Publish a policy:
As with just about any change that you plan to usher into your company, you should have a clear, written policy explaining your company’s social media policy. Your policy should be simple, direct, and to the point. If you overcomplicate the rules, employees will figure they are better off not sharing at all. Include examples of what should be shared (product launches, new service lines, milestones) and what should be kept offline (trade secrets, office gossip, etc). Experts also recommend that you make the policy easy to access so that employees can reference it as needed for guidance on their postings.
Make it a mission:
Once you have a social media policy in place, employees may feel more confident in engaging in social media marketing. However, sharing your company’s goals and mission for social media marketing will really serve as a guide for employees and will have the added benefit of boosting participation. Make sure that your executives and managers are aware of the plan and ask that they themselves be active on their social media networks to encourage participation. As part of your mission, share monthly social media stats, including how many employees posted, how much the posts were seen or shared, and whether any converted to sales or other markers of engagement. Providing this type of information will encourage employees to continue to engage, which leads us to our next point…
Make it fun:
Asking your employees to spend their social media “downtime” promoting your company can come off as just one more thing to do. However, if you turn it into a fun activity you can increase your online engagement while also boosting employee morale. Some companies, for example, have experimented with setting up a leaderboard to showcase employee social media engagement, with those posting the most content, getting the most clicks or shares, or even converting to sales getting top billing. Sometimes, a little friendly competition can be just the ticket to drive participation so you could experiment with pitting teams or departments against one another or around various launches or campaign goals. To further boost participation, some business owners offer weekly or monthly prizes such as gift cards, company swag, extra paid time off, or other forms of recognition.
Don’t force it:
For many, their time on social media is a chance to escape, a point of relaxation in their otherwise stressful days. Others, meanwhile, prefer to curate their online persona and are very measured about what they are willing to share. With this in mind, best practice would suggest that you don’t force employees to participate in your social media marketing efforts. By all accounts, make your policy accessible, teach your mission, and promote participation, especially to new hires who bring with them their very own new audience. But, be mindful that you aren’t making it feel like a job requirement or a condition of continuing employment.
Concentrate on content:
While your impulse may be to only have your employee post content that is directly associated or even generated by your company, you’ll actually have a broader reach if you diversify your content. Having employees share information from leaders in your industry helps to drive engagement in your field. It makes your employees look dialed into what’s going on outside of the confines of their offices and also puts your company on the radar of these third-party vendors as sources that share content. This, in turn, can lead to reciprocal relationships where your content is shared by these vendors, which again further broadens your reach. Moreover, not limiting your employees to content generated by your company will prevent them from getting bored and drive engagement in your social media marketing efforts.
Whenever you implement a new system or program within your company, you’ll want to check in with your “boots on the ground” to find out how it’s going. You should plan to seek feedback on your social media marketing policy, employee engagement in your marketing mission, and even on how well received your incentive programs are. You can do this in town hall meetings, during manager check-ins, or even using online surveys or polls. It doesn’t matter how you collect the data, only that you do and that you use the information to improve your plan. Additionally, you should look at any employee that is consistently hitting it out of the park with their social media marketing engagement and figure out how you can help others to replicate their success.