A few years ago, using social media in the workplace was a no-go. Now, it’s a must-do. And if you do it right, if your employees learn how to use the most relevant platforms in the right way, it can work wonders for you as a team, as a brand, and as a business.
Because what we tend to forget nowadays is that social media is more than a marketing tool. Let’s take it back to the basics: it was built to connect people.
But to some companies, the ‘social’ in social media is ignored, like the ‘g’ in lasagna.
Are you using social media to empower your employees? If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Social media can help your team connect with each other and with customers in new and exciting ways. If you’ve been looking for original employee engagement ideas, social media might be the answer. Let’s see how you can use it to your benefit!
1. The (often overlooked) power of social media
Social media has become one of the most powerful (marketing) tools in the world. It allows you to communicate with a large number of people quickly, easily and targeted.
It has paved the way to two-way communications between brands and consumers and feels a lot more human than television ads, for instance (when it’s done right).
But the real power of social media is not so much in how great it is for marketing but how great it is for building relationships between brands and consumers. And: brands and their employees.
It’s a vital but often overlooked part: how you use social media between the company and employees. Can and should consumers interact with employees directly on social media? Should employees post under their accounts or hide behind the brand’s logo?
How can you use social media to strengthen the connection between your employees and your company? What effect can it have on everyone involved? And what is the best way to do this?
If you start answering these questions, you’ll see that there are a lot of uncovered benefits that social media offers. It’s great to empower employees and individuals and a great tool for boosting overall engagement on the work floor.
2. Social media in the workplace: the pros and cons
Many companies still have strict rules against using social media in the workplace—even when employees are working from home. While regulations are necessary, it’s important you don’t restrict the positive effects social media can have.
Sure, social media use should be regulated. You don’t want employees endlessly scrolling on TikTok as “research” or have them post stories that can harm your brand image. To see what should be regulated, let’s start by looking at some of the downsides social media can have.
- Social media works fast. Sometimes, too fast. If your employees use it the wrong way, a mistake can already have traveled to the other side of the world.
- There’s a lot of skepticism on social media. There should be, but it has become hard to be perceived as authentic. It’s a balancing act!
- Social media isn’t a magical marketing solution. Yes, posting regularly is fairly easy. But social media requires consistency, research, strategy, and targeting. Don’t underestimate it!
- Social media changes rapidly. What works today might be useless tomorrow.
But what if you regulate usage the right way and can reap all the benefits social media has to offer for empowering your employees? Here are the benefits we’re talking about:
- Social media can spark creativity. Whether it’s in writing, visuals, or video: it’s a great way to see and create things that inspire employees.
- Social media can help people shape a personal brand. If you allow employees to focus on their strengths and expertise, they can build a strong (online) reputation that goes beyond your business.
- Social media is easy enough to use for most people, so nobody is missing out on the opportunities it has to offer. Got some people who are struggling? Offer training, even peer-to-peer!
Once you get the ball rolling and your employees are starting to get the hang of it, you can display your best-performing posts, the most fun pictures, and everything else you want to highlight with tools like Social Wall. In your office, it’s a great engagement booster, but you can even display these collages as ads for some stellar employer branding.
3. Your employees as brand ambassadors (and industry experts)
Now, here’s the ideal situation: when your employees feel empowered to create content that puts them and your company in a good light, you’ve got a golden ticket. You’ve probably heard of user-generated content, but let’s look at a different kind: employee generated content.
No, that’s not the same as what your content creator or marketer is currently preparing based on your social media content calendar.
Employee generated content is more natural, and doesn’t push products or services. It showcases their experiences within your company. There are several things they could create content around, such as things they learn (even if it’s through mistakes!), and interactions they have with colleagues or customers. As long as it’s not forced, has a positive note to it, and can be connected to your business in a good way, it’s good employee generated content.
A picture of your last pizza party might not make a difference in the long run. Instead, opt for content that has a message, shows vulnerability, the progress you are making as a team, or partnerships you value.
Ultimately, this will turn your employees into industry experts and brand ambassadors. Not the ones stopping people on the street to sell them something. The types of brand ambassadors we mean here are like friends you trust to refer you to a great company or who always have great product recommendations. Your employees can become that type of influence on consumers with consistent content and a strong personal brand of their own!
You won’t just look great in the eyes of consumers but also to potential new hires. Employer branding was never as important as today, so don’t miss out on this extra opportunity to put your business in the type of spotlight that makes you look great.
4. Lead by example
Before you start posting frantically, think about a social media policy. Here’s what to include:
- What type of content can and cannot be shared?
- What is allowed to be in pictures, and what is off-limits?
- Which meetings or events can be shown and when?
- What type of client-employee interactions can you show?
- Who oversees what is being posted?
- What tone of voice needs to be used, and which branding elements
- Are there any hashtags to use, tags to include, or groups to post on?
Some of these might seem futile, but you want to prevent people from being confused and therefore choosing not to post at all. Create a social media policy that encourages people to post, rather than stuffing it with strict language that limits them. Show them examples of what works and they will follow those.
Better yet: have management start it off! Leading by example is a great way to get things started. You can hardly expect your employees to build a strong social media presence on LinkedIn for example, if their managers and CEO don’t know how to change their profile picture on there. Invest in training and make sure everyone is on board, using the right branding and knows what to share—and not to share.
5. Engage and support your employees
Listen, this sounds great—we know that. But it’s not easy. It should be something that is both encouraged and supported.
It’s crucial you give your employees the right resources, engage them and acknowledge their efforts.
Building a strong personal brand and creating employee generated content shouldn’t be something your employees need to do on top of their normal workload or outside of office hours: give them the space, time, and resources to do it on the clock!
You can even incentivize the ones who are most active, but don’t turn things into a competition. You want that employee generated content to stay authentic.
Don’t focus on output, but instead reward creativity, the most fun content, the most original pieces or anything else that stands out.
Managing a company is never easy. Prioritizing your employees’ needs should always come first. Please show your support and gratitude by acknowledging their ideas, showing compassion, and listening to what they say. If you work in the office, make sure you use mileage reimbursement, as that’s a great perk for your employees.
6. The next (first!) step
So, what’s the next step? Start talking to your employees about building their online brand on LinkedIn or maybe even Instagram or TikTok.
Explain the benefits to them (they’ll be able to become industry experts, opportunities may arise easier, and they can develop themselves in a creative way).
But also be honest about what you want to reach for your company: explain how having a team of people with strong online personal brands helps the company and what type of content you’d like to see.
If you want to build brand trust, start with your employees’ social media channels.
Start looking around on LinkedIn and try to spot what other brands are doing to empower employees through social media. What type of content do you find valuable? What employees are standing out from the crowd? Start making notes and then encourage everyone on board to create their first post— learn as you go!