Employee engagement is traditionally a concern of the HR department rather than the marketing department. Employees who are fully engaged at work deliver benefits, including improved productivity, higher retention, and increased employee loyalty.
All these things are great for the business as a whole, and it’s true that if your marketing team is fully engaged, they’ll perform better than employees who aren’t engaged. But if you haven’t considered the link between employee engagement and marketing further than this, you’re missing out on an opportunity.
- Engaged employees can assist your marketing efforts with authentic content production and sharing on social media.
- Employee personal social media accounts represent a huge opportunity for businesses, not a danger.
- A managed employee advocacy program is essential for success.
How Engaged Employees Can Boost Your Marketing Efforts
In the first years of social media, organizations saw it as more of a hindrance to productivity and a threat to company reputation, rather than an opportunity to use their own employees as brand ambassadors.
It was common initially for businesses to block access to social media on the company network or issue strict guidelines for its usage. These policies may have been in an attempt to eliminate distractions from work, but also from a fear of how the company reputation could be damaged by negative mentions on employee social media accounts.
There have been several high-profile cases of employees being fired after making inappropriate posts about work on social media, but these incidents have become rarer as we’ve grown more accustomed to using social media and its potential dangers.
Organizations are now starting to realize that the best way to prevent this type of employee bad behavior is to make sure their employees are engaged at work.
Happy and engaged employees are not only unlikely to post negative remarks about their work on social media, but they’re also more likely to post positive remarks.
The effect of this can have such a significant boost to the marketing efforts of the company that some businesses are actively encouraging their employees to post about work on their social media accounts and the official brand website and social accounts.
Some examples of this include:
- L’Oreal promoting a #lifeatloreal hashtag to provide more exposure to their company culture.
- Dell driving an additional 45,000 clicks to their website through an employee advocacy program by getting 10% of their workforce to become brand advocates on social media.
- Coca-Cola’s “staff picks” section on their corporate blog, where employees recommend stories.
- Reebok encouraging its employees to share photos of themselves wearing reebok products with the hashtag #fitasscompany.
- Adobe’s Social Shift training program, which educates and encourages employees to share details about their working life at the company with the hashtag #adobelife.
Empowering and encouraging employees to post about their working lives is not only a way to benefit from the most engaged individuals at your company. It also helps to engage all your employees by making them feel trusted and valued. In this way, employee engagement continues to grow, and both the company and its employees benefit from the arrangement.
Turning Your Employees Into Advocates
As demonstrated in some of the examples above, an employee advocacy program can lead to some truly impressive results. Not only in terms of better employee engagement but also in marketing success.
Because people listen more to people they known and trust (your individual employees) rather than official brand messages, getting your employees to share content on social media can increase engagement by as much as 700x.
So how do you get started with this “secret sauce” marketing trick? There are a few key steps to implementing a successful employee advocacy program.
1. Prioritize Employee Engagement
If you don’t already have an employee engagement policy in practice, this should be your first priority. If you do have some kind of employee engagement program already running, it’s important to assess if it’s working and how you could improve it.
Highly engaged employees are essential to this type of marketing. You can’t force your employees to post about work on their personal social media accounts, and even if you could, the lack of authenticity would be immediately apparent.
There are many ways you can engage your employees, but starting with the basics is always a good plan. Make sure there are open channels of communication at all levels. Focus on developing strong and supportive management. Allow your employees autonomy and trust to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
2. Set Out Clear Social Media Guidelines
Even if your employees are highly engaged at work, they still may be reluctant to share information about their jobs on social media.
Why? Usually because they don’t want to get into trouble – they’re unsure if mentioning work on social media is allowed, or they don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize their future career progression (understandably, judging by how many people are searching for people being fired for social media usage as illustrated above).
Avoid this scenario by setting out clear social media guidelines for your employees, explaining exactly what is and what isn’t appropriate, and making it clear that positive content and social media sharing is absolutely encouraged.
Not sure what to include in your guidelines? Take a look at the wording of Starbucks’ social media guidelines for an excellent example to follow.
3. Put Authentic Storytelling at the Center of Your Content Strategy
Your employees are all individuals, and they each have their own unique stories that your audience can learn from and be inspired by.
Encourage your employees to share their stories and build better relationships with your audience through authentic and honest content.
Each of your employees has talents and passions that they probably don’t get to make full use of in their everyday working lives. By encouraging them to produce content around these strengths, exploring their interests and telling others about what’s important to them, you’re deepening employee engagement and engaging your audience and customers at the same time.
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