By Elizabeth Harper for Sprout Social on October 3, 2014
While many businesses focus on spreading their social reach by adding more followers, you may find that your best advocates are right under your nose. Your employees are already some of the most engaged, best-informed advocates of your brand — and given the right tools and training, they can become your best brand ambassadors, sharing your message and broadening your reach. If you’re not sure where to get started, we’ve broken down how to get your employees involved in your social strategy, step by step.
Step 1: Make a Plan of Action
While the general goal of having your company’s employees be more active on social is a good one, you’ll want to take time to decide exactly what you want to accomplish with their social activity. Do you need to spread the word about your brand and products? Do you want to highlight what a great corporate culture you have? Do you want your employees to help show a more human side to your business? Do you want engineering staff to help explain technical product details?
Even from this small list of possibilities, you can see how different social goals will mean you’ll be working with different individuals in your organization and asking them to do different things. Before you start approaching anyone, it’s important to have a solid plan established. Remember, these people have other jobs to do, so giving them vague instructions or changing social directions mid-stream probably won’t give you the results you’d like. Just like any other social media project, having a plan of action will help you — and your coworkers — stay focused and on-message.
This is also when you should be coordinating with management to make sure everyone’s on board with having employees spend some of their time on social. Be sure to reach out to the management of any department you’d like to involve in social media activity and explain both the time requirements and the potential advantages of having their workers participate as well as addressing any concerns they might have. Having managers on the same page will be a big help when it comes to getting people actually active on social.
Step 2: Establish Guidelines
Next, you’ll want to set up a social media policy
that lays out guidelines for what you do and don’t want your employees to do. While social media best practices may seem like common sense to members of the social media team, other members of your organization might need a bit more guidance.
Because you’re talking to staff outside the social media specialty, you want to be sure to put together a policy that’s easy to read and understand even for employees with limited experience on those networks. If your employees don’t understand what you’re trying to communicate with your policy, it’s not going to be very useful — so aim to keep things as straightforward as possible. In addition to laying out rules, providing clear examples of do’s and don’ts help illustrate your points.
Also bear in mind that while it’s important to clearly spell out what you don’t want employees to do, a long list of rules can be rather dour. It’s equally important to talk about what you do want them to do. Just like you would in your social media messaging, work to keep your tone upbeat and positive, focusing on the fun things employees can do on social networks just as much (if not more) as on the things they shouldn’t do.
Step 3: Train Your Staff to Be Social Media Stars.
Sure, you’ve set a clear social media policy for everyone at the office to follow, but have they absorbed it? Do they have other questions? Once you’ve set your social media policy, it’s a good idea to arrange for some specific times for training and review sessions with anyone you’d like to get more involved in social. This gives you a chance to reiterate the important points of your policy, but also answer questions and help guide employees through their first business-friendly steps on social.
And don’t consider your training duties done after a single session: be sure to keep things going by highlighting people doing social well, sending out tips, and suggesting ways staff can help push the company’s social strategy.
Step 4: Make It Easy
The best way to get everyone in the company to join in on your social initiatives? Make it super easy for them to do so. In addition to having a straightforward social policy that’s easy for everyone to understand, you can push social initiatives by including calls to action in company emails. Don’t just expect your staff to know what to share or when to share it: tell them! If you want to promote a new product, a sale be sure to let everyone know about it — and ask them to share it.
You can make calls to action even easier by including sample social messaging to use. While you should certainly encourage your employees to use their own voice — within the guidelines of your social media policy, of course — providing sample messages gives them a place to start and makes it extra easy for them to share what you want them to share.
Step 5: Make It Fun
Think of your employees as another kind of follower. Just like your company’s audience on Facebook or Twitter, your employees can be motivated by fun social activities. Want to highlight your unique corporate culture? Encourage them to tweet selfies from the company picnic or hold a contest for best decorated desk on Instagram. Any fun engagement strategy you might use with customers can work just as well on your employees: if you give them an exciting, interesting activity to do, they’re more likely to participate than if you simply put out a dry corporate request. Upping the fun factor can especially help add a warmer, more human touch to your brand by showing off that your employees’ personalities.