Social media is changing the way that we operate, both at work and at home. Organic use of social media can be hugely effective in enhancing your ‘employer brand’. But it needs to be done right if it is to create the right results, including better search traffic and attracting great talent. So what do you need to know?

Social media content about you is much wider than your official content. If you think that using social media is just a matter of posting content and monitoring interactions, think again. Your sanctioned content is a very small part of the whole. You also need to consider what your employees are saying about you online, which may be very different. This content may be both ‘official’, what they say to customers or partners as part of the job, and ‘unofficial’, what they say to friends and family, and what they say anonymously.

Employee surveys don’t tell you what your employees are saying about you online. You may think you know what your employees think of you, but if you’re relying on engagement surveys, you probably don’t. If you want to know what’s going on online, you have to go and look. As with any other group, you have to look where your employees are, and not just where you think they should be.

Use the monitoring tools available to find out what’s going on. Tools like Mention allow you to monitor what’s being said about your company or industry in real time. You can create alerts to monitor topics or company names, and then share these with individuals to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on. You can also use Mention to reply to Twitter and Facebook directly.

Take proactive action to address ‘cons’ in your employee branding. Your current and previous employees are your best (or worst) ambassadors. In an online world, we tend to trust peer recommendations more than ‘official’ content. If your employees are complaining online about some aspect of the company, take action to address it, and make sure that complaints stop.

Check your brand positioning. If your social media branding is not quite right, you will undermine all your hard work. Potential talent won’t find you, or won’t find you attractive. Make sure that your company is positioned correctly, across all social media including unofficial content.

This means that you need to be clear about your company’s social aims and culture. Think about what keeps your employees engaged, and differentiates you from others in the same industry or sector. Ideally, your employees will be happy to discuss you online, and be strong advocates for the company without prompting. It doesn’t work to try to control them, because that comes across loud and clear, and is very off-putting.

Employee advocacy works because of emotional commitment. Social media brand advocacy is organic. That means it develops and grows by itself, not because the company orders it to happen. Employees have to be emotionally committed to the company in order to want to advocate for it. They must be both engaged and aligned with the company’s values and culture.

Employee advocacy starts at the top. Leaders need to demonstrate the sharing culture if they want those below to adopt and accept it. Sharing and advocacy must be celebrated, but it must also be honest. We’re programmed to identify lack of sincerity very fast, and it’s a huge turn-off for most people.

Flexibility is key to employee advocacy and employer branding via social media. Different situations call for different measures. One size very definitely does not fit all in employer branding and employee advocacy, and it’s vital to give employees flexibility in how they advocate and share information on social media. IBM has been using employee advocacy for some time, and believes that each initiative is different.

Success depends not so much what you use, as how you use it. The precise capabilities of your platform, or system, or tools, do not really matter. How you use them is much more important, and particularly, the culture in which you use them. In other words, an open culture, and a willingness to allow human interaction, will create much better results than a much more technical platform, but a less creative ‘licence to use’. Granting autonomy may be frightening for managers, but it is hugely motivating, and the results speak for themselves.


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