Do your employees need an incentive to be on social media in the first place? Many of us are on Facebook and Twitter already, and if someone isn’t then it’s almost guaranteed that they’re within 10 metres of someone who is. Almost 50% of job seekers, for example, are active daily on social networking sites anyway and more than a third of employers access these sites when hiring people.
So is it a good idea to get your employees to use social media for the benefit of your company as well as their own? Not so long ago it was much more frowned upon to be broadcasting anything about your job, but more businesses are realising the huge potential of social media.
Nearly three quarters of all Fortune 500 companies have a Twitter profile and 80% of those companies’ executives believe they have received more sales as a result. So we can start to see why it might be a good idea to get your employees on social media too, specifically to further your business’ brand awareness. But if they are to use social networks for your company’s eventual financial gain, they might need a financial incentive of their own.
Here are three other advantages of getting your employees on social media for your consideration.
You get to know your employees on a more personal level
As well as getting your employees to promote your business, you’ll be able to discover more about them and build closer relationships with the people you work with every day. This is a very general benefit that social media can bring to everybody, but it’ll be even more advantageous in the workplace, where personal relationships are sometimes harder to forge.
However, this can also be achieved by using a social intranet, which works much the same as any other social network except that it’s internal, rather than being web-based.
Social media can also be used in the hiring of your employees. You could set up an account which you then direct applicants to. You’ll be able to get to know your future employees beforehand and see what they’re like outside of work, which can be an indicator of how reliable they’ll be.
The only risk with this is that applicants could go back into their post history and delete anything incriminating and purposely be on their best behaviour, which isn’t an accurate reflection of what they’re really like.
However, everyone is entitled to both a past and a personal life, so there should be some divide between what you can and can’t access. For the most part, this approach also means that you have to request a potential employee on certain networks (such as Facebook), so be prepared for them to say no. It shouldn’t be prerequisite of them being able to work for you.
LinkedIn is a much better place to get an idea of how people behave in a work environment and personally, that’s where I would go first.
Barriers are broken and multiple communications are simplified
By connecting with your employees over social media there will no longer be any barriers which divide people according to rank within the company. You can easily send messages to everybody simultaneously and set up groups on sites like LinkedIn to congregate your employees and engage with their personal and business interests. It may increase how much they enjoy their job. They’ll also feel more involved in your company rather than merely be employed by it, helping them to feel valued and upping their productivity.
You can share the load of your social media marketing strategy
Your social media strategy doesn’t have to be just a matter of having a profile for customers to post comments to and use as a point of contact. It can be used to share any content marketing your company has produced and establish B2B relationships on top of your B2C ones. This will be even easier to do once your employees are all on social networks, further sharing your content and building brand awareness.
As long as your employees enjoy working for your company, they’ll naturally be some of the most loyal people to your brand. But when it comes to using their personal social media accounts to spread the word about you, they’ll probably need a bigger reason than that to do so. As such, paying your employees to use social media for the benefit of your business might be an initial expense, but there’s a chance it can be very beneficial if it’s done correctly.
Be selective about which social sites you ask your employees to connect with you on. LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest are all good choices, but Facebook should really be avoided as it’s too much of a personal platform in my opinion. Be aware that if you do connect on a personal level, then you should be prepared for not liking all of the activity that you see. People have friends and connections that don’t always share the same values and there’s not much to be done about that.
Paying for your employees to shout about the company via social media can be carried out as a part of the employment contract which should set out:
- What’s expected of the employee
- Company policies on sharing
- Company branding (tone, style etc.)
Or you could operate a bonus scheme, giving monetary rewards when your employees gain you a connection that leads to a sale or has improved a company discussion group.
All employees should have a well fleshed out LinkedIn profile and they should connect with each other, follow the company page and discussion groups and get involved in the running of both. This significantly raises the profile of the company on the platform and again, you can run bonus schemes for those that perform well and use the groups and page to gain leads.
However, coming back to the original question of should you pay employees to use their own social profiles for work, it’s something that is difficult to manage and could blow up in the company’s face in an embarrassing and potentially damaging way. With this in mind, I would stick to LinkedIn to be sure and perhaps Twitter and Pinterest at a push for trusted employees.