If you work anywhere near social media, you’ve probably heard that Facebook has recently updated their algorithm (again) to prioritize content from friends and family. In a release dated June 29 2016, Facebook’s VP of Product Management for the News Feed tells users that the top priority is “keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.”
While I’m sure this is a welcome change for many Facebook users, those of us who manage Facebook for brands might be in a bit of a bind.
Facebook addressed this concern in a separate release, stating:
Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends.
Try as we might to create quality content, we face some tough competition from baby photos, engagement announcements, and your cousin’s political rants. Sponsored posts can help push your content closer to the top of the News Feed, but the question then becomes whether this strategy is sustainable long-term.
Fortunately, there’s still an opportunity for brands. Spoiler alert: it may have something to do with getting your employees on social media.
Employees on Social Media
Your employees may be more willing to share work-related content on social media than you realize. I’ll give you a quick example:
Say your company is the title sponsor of a huge yearly event. This event is focused on celebrating a specific community and attracts attendees from all over the world. It’s very likely you’ll have employees that are attending, or at very least, want to show their support. An employee of yours asks what you’re doing to support the event, and asks if there’s any way they can share that news with their network.
The desire to share company news was already there, there just wasn’t a streamlined way to do it.
And this is just one employee. Chances are there are there are many more who share the same sense of excitement to work where they do and they’d be willing to share company content with their friends and family.
According to research from Weber Shandwick, one in five employees (21%) is estimated to be an employee advocate, and another 33% have high potential to be employee advocates. On top of that, research from MSLGroup finds that employees have on average 10x more connections than brand channels do, and messages shared by employees went 561% further than the same message shared on a brand owned channel.
…see where I’m going with this?
Employee advocacy can be considered a complementary strategy to your paid and organic efforts, AND it can be measured in a variety of ways. Employee advocacy solutions allow your team to:
- Stay updated with the latest company initiatives
- Share content on the channels they prefer
- Add their own voice to content
Sharing from a centralized content library also gives social media managers additional insights on reach, impressions, earned media value, etc.
And this isn’t to say that your employees should parrot your brand’s posts to get around an algorithm update. It’s about giving them the option to share that content that they find valuable and make it their own.
We care about what our friends and family members are up to – that’s the point of being on Facebook, right? The baby photos and political rants are all glimpses into our friends’ lives, and for the most part, we care about what our connections care about. So if I have a friend doing awesome things at work, that’s content that I like seeing in my feed.
If I came across a post from a friend of mine that said “[MY COMPANY] is donating $50,000 to mental health initiatives across the country. Love where I work 🙂” I’d be inclined to hit the like button (actually, I’d probably use the love reaction), or maybe click that link to find out more about this donation.
But there’s the caveat – it isn’t just another post from a brand channel. It’s coming from my friend, it’s something that they care about, and it’s genuine! And as a bonus: that company now seems like an awesome place to work.
With branded content facing limited reach in the News Feed, marketers are going to have to get a bit more creative. I think employees on social media combined with a paid strategy is a great way for brands to have their content seen.
What are the Risks of Employees Sharing on Social?
Asking employees to share on social media might be a little daunting for some enterprises. What if they don’t get our messaging right, or what if they say something bad?
Well, if your employees are that set on slamming you on social media, chances are they’d do that regardless of whether you have an employee advocacy solution in place. Sorry.
The messaging bit we can help with, though. We’ve got a great guide to creating an employee social media policy that can help you outline what’s appropriate to share on social and what isn’t.
I’m a huge proponent of authenticity on social media, so my advice is to encourage employees to add their two cents to company content. Suggested captions with appropriate messaging are still good practice, but remember that generally speaking, the algorithm is looking for posts with high engagement. I have a sneaking suspicion that posts which sound like they’re coming from an actual person (as opposed to a page) have a higher chance of engagement from connections, which ultimately means higher visibility for you.
Of course, Facebook isn’t the only social network that is trying to intelligently prioritize content from connections. Algorithms, “stories” – social networks are trying to make sure that you’re connected with your friends’ content first. As a result, brands are constantly adapting their strategies to get more eyes on their content, but channels are frequently updating to better serve their users. This isn’t likely to change.
But algorithms aren’t the enemy! In fact, I think that this increasing sophistication in content prioritization presents an awesome opportunity for brands.
Social networks are operating on the assumption that people want to see what their friends are up to first, followed by what brands or influencers are doing second.
Doesn’t employee advocacy cover both of those bases?
I’d love to hear your opinion on this.
What are your thoughts on activating employees on social media? Has your enterprise explored this as a strategy? What were the results?