Do Employees Actually Want to Share on Social Media?

When you bring up the idea of employees sharing content on social media, there are tons of concerns that pop up.

“What if employees say something off-brand?”
“How can we make sure that employees won’t say anything that puts the company at risk?”
“What if they go on a rampage and say awful things about the company?”

And these are all valid questions. The truth is, programs that encourage staff to share on social media (employee advocacy) need to be mindful of how they’re asking employees to share.

On the one hand, if you ask staff to share content without any guidelines for what’s appropriate, you may run into issues with improper disclosure. I’ve heard of this happening with things like new product launches or company events. Staff are excited about the initiatives, but haven’t been briefed on what the public is privy to.

On the other hand, if guidelines for sharing are too strict, then employees may feel like they’re just parroting the brand. Even if you’re the most engaged employee, this probably isn’t up your alley, is it?

But both of these extremes hinge on one assumption: your employees actually want to share on social media in the first place.

That can seem like a pretty big assumption. Does every employee want to share on social media? What about the people who don’t have personal social media accounts – why would they care about this?

If you’re thinking that asking every single employee to become brand ambassadors on social is unrealistic – you’re absolutely right. Any successful employee advocacy program should be opt-in.

But there’s research to support that a good chunk of employees do want to share on social media.

Research from Weber Shandwick finds that:

  • 88% of employees use social media for personal use
  • 50% of those employees post messages, pictures or videos in social media about employer often or from time-to-time
  • 39% have shared praise or positive comments online about employer
  • 33% post messages, pictures or videos about employer in social media often or from time-to-time without any encouragement from their employer

There’s a sizable segment of your workforce who may already be sharing content about your company. That’s awesome!

The key here is to identify those folks who may not be actively sharing on social (yet), but who are engaged at work.

That colleague you have who always wears company swag? They’d probably be interested in an employee advocacy program. That person who always volunteers to organize company events? They’d likely be interested too.

Why Would Employees Want to Share on Social Media?

In my experience, the percentage of employees who are proud to work at a company and aren’t afraid to show it is pretty high. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who want to share news about your company with their personal network.

But – and this is a big caveat – you’ve got to understand what motivates employees to share.

Sarah Goodall, founder of social consultancy Tribal Impact, illustrated this exceptionally well in her recent blog post:

Be careful not to put people in boxes based on their function. Instead, consider their motivation. Who wants to be a thought leader vs who wants to sell something. Then set up the categories based not just on what the brand wants to amplify but what will also engage your employees!

I can certainly attest to this. I’m one of those employees who’s interested in talking about my company on social media, but I don’t typically share content about my role (content marketing strategy.)

What gets my attention and compels me to share with my Facebook network? Usually exciting news about PostBeyond – like our Series A raise, or a photo of the team Christmas party. I love showing off the culture we have here, and that’s what keeps me involved in our employee advocacy program.

Employees Do Want to Share – Now What?

When you’re asking staff to share on social, it pays to keep in mind that there will be all sorts of different motivators, and different levels of social savviness. It’s up to you to identify the maturity level and set guidelines based on that.

Employees do want to share on social media – but there are quite a few factors at play.

  • What would motivate them to share?
  • Are they savvy with social media, or will they need training?
  • Have they read and understood the company’s social media policy?

If you take these ideas into consideration and shape your employee advocacy program around it, I think you’ll strike a happy medium. Employees will feel informed and confident enough to share using their own voice, and the company will be protected from improper disclosure.

If you’d like to learn more about identifying your brand advocates or tips to get staff involved in your program, I highly recommend our upcoming webinar, “Proven Tactics to Get Your Staff Sharing on Social Media”, presented by my colleague Sarah Beatty.

Sarah will be sharing PostBeyond’s best practices for training your staff on social, and how you can get employees excited about your program. Register here.

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