“We don’t allow our employees to use social media during work!” I was told by the Marketing Manager of an internationally well-known company last week. “Why not?” I asked him, genuinely interested in his explanation. “Well, we want them to work; but really, this is a management decision, I don’t really know why”, he told me, with his voice not quite expressing that he was convinced of this strategic decision. He continued to tell me, how their employees of course use Social Media on their smartphones though, because “we cannot control that – but on their computers we control it, and there they can’t access Social Media.”
Yes, your employees are paid to work, and organizing their weekends on Facebook, or Snapchatting Selfies to their friends isn’t work. But this is not what I am talking about! Many organizations fail to see how using Social Media professionally can be beneficial for the company as well as their employees.
Indeed, the vast majority of companies agrees that having employees being part of content distribution and brand promotion would be immensely powerful. However, 32% of businesses have – like my real-life example from above – set up guidelines and restrictions regarding their employees’ personal use of social media.
Companies that use a formal employee advocacy program see an average of 5 benefits from their program, compared to only 2.8 benefits seen by companies that are not considering investing into employee advocacy. The top two benefits throughout all companies are increased visibility and brand awareness, but also more tangible and measurable benefits, such as increased inbound web traffic, better search engine rankings, increased content downloads and decreased marketing costs (Hinges, 2015). Furthermore, companies with an implemented employee advocacy program grow faster, have a shorter sales cycle and are – through social selling – better in attracting and developing new business, as well as generating new revenue.
These advantages for the firm are often the selling point for organizations to start their own employee advocacy program. But while considering the ROI of such a program and contemplating whether this investment is worth it, in order to get the full benefits out of such program, decision makers need to take into consideration, which benefits an employee advocacy program has for their employees! Or: Why you should invest in your employees’ social media activities.
By engaging on Social Media for professional purposes, your employees not only help your firm, but also their own career. The study Understanding Employee Advocacy on Social Media (Hinges, 2015), found that a clear majority of respondents said that engagement on social media has helped their career – but almost noone mentioned that it has hurt their career. That was especially true when employees had a formal employee advocacy program to use as part of their social media engagement.
Giving your employees the possibility to share expert or inside knowledge and company approved content, turns them into thought leaders to which their network turns when they seek knowledge – maybe about your own products or services. This expanded professional network has shown to be the most widely recognized benefit of an employee advocacy program for employees, according to the Hinges study. On a second place, 76% of respondents mentioned the ability of keeping up with industry trends as a benefit from professionally engaging in social media.
Understanding what drives your employees and effectively communication – openly and honestly – about the benefits of your employee advocacy program for both your own company, as well as your employees opens up a new way on how you can generate new business and revenue, and help your employees to successfully advance in their careers. Having them succeed in their job ultimately leads to a higher job satisfaction and less turnover – yet another advantage your company gains from investing into its most important asset: Your employees.