By Dave Hawley. Crain News Service
SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 14, 2014) — Employees are talking about your brand on social media.
In fact, half of employees post messages, pictures or videos in social media about their employers. With nearly120 million full-time employees in the U.S., that means 60 million employees choose to talk about their employers online.
The good news is that their messages are overwhelmingly positive. The bad news is that much of this employee advocacy is happening beyond the awareness of employers. Many employees are sharing about their companies on social media without training or guidance on brand-safe content.
The key is to understand why employees would advocate for their companies. What's in it for them? How do you make it feel natural for them to advocate? How can you motivate them to do it well?
First, help employees understand what your company stands for. All people — and particularly millennials, who will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 — want to find fulfillment in their work and want their contributions make a difference in the world.
A sense of fulfillment is unattainable, however, if the individual doesn't understand his or her company's own mission and why his or her work matters.
When employees in the dark are finally empowered to talk about their companies on social media, they build that understanding. When employees view great content and then share it, it fulfills this intrinsic desire for understanding and purpose in work.
This sets the stage for you to tap into three motivators that can make advocacy central to your culture:
Employee advocacy develops an understanding of the brand, and this produces a sense of pride in sharing. According to Gallup Inc., Americans spend on average 47 hours of their week working. They want friends and family to know what they work so hard at and why it matters.
This is why employees especially enjoy sharing corporate social responsibility initiatives — like sustainable environmental practices, volunteering and donation programs. Even videos of employees at work on the latest initiative, or a testimonial about a company that is using your product, can stoke feelings of dignity and gratification.
Your employees want to share what makes them proud to work because it is core to their identity and sense of meaning in life.
When social content recognizes individual employees and teams, they and their colleagues want to share. It's like giving a friend a big digital high-five.
The social relationships within your company matter to people, and this is why recognition matters. Besides an appearance in social content, recognition can take many forms, including acknowledgement from managers and executives.