How to turn your employees into advocates

HR can play a vital role in helping staff create and share the right sort of content across social channels, says Carlos Gil – and that will bring benefits for recruitment and retention

While improving social media marketing may not be high on the list of priorities for HR teams, having a strong digital presence can be a key differentiator in attracting and retaining talent. For one, social media marketing can be used to increase brand awareness and reputation to draw in recruits. Having a strong online presence that boosts your reputation can also help current employees take pride in where they work and feel like the company is moving in the right direction.

Yet leaving this work to marketing departments is not enough. Social media marketing can go so much further if all employees get involved, as each individual with their own perspectives and networks can expand a company’s reach and engagement, particularly in an age where social media users are looking to connect with the personal sides of brands rather than interacting with corporate logos. And when employees get involved with social media marketing, they can boost their own presence online, helping them advance their careers. 

In many cases, employees are already talking about their employers online, and when companies try to stifle this behaviour, they can end up hurting employee experience and overall marketing effectiveness. 

Instead, HR teams should use their skills in recruitment and employee experience to encourage employee advocacy initiatives, where workers can amplify brand posts and create their own related content in a way companies can encourage on their own terms. This can take many forms, ranging from retweeting official posts, to distributing photos and captions from an event that employees can easily share, to letting an employee takeover Snapchat or Instagram Stories for a day. 

Marketing teams may be the primary drivers of employee advocacy programs, but HR can play a key role in a number of ways:

Identify employees who are passionate about social media

Through employee surveys, social listening platforms like Sprinklr, or simply speaking with employees, HR teams can identify individuals who like to use social media and may be willing to share stories about their brand. Successful employee advocacy programmes require buy-in from employees, so identifying a few who can step up as leaders can help to encourage others over time.

Evaluate how employees like to share and create content

Through similar methods for identifying social media leaders, HR teams can also figure out how employees like to share and create content. Some employee advocacy programmes are fairly low-tech, such as when marketing teams send out a few suggested posts through email once per week. But some brands may choose to deploy employee advocacy software that helps to create, distribute and evaluate content. The best method depends on your employees’ preferences and organisational needs, which HR can help determine.

Encourage employees to get involved

Once an employee advocacy programme gets underway, HR can help ensure its success by encouraging everyone to participate. For example, if companies use employee advocacy software, HR departments can make signing up for the platform part of onboarding for new employees. They can also help explain to current employees how being active on social media and posting about company-related content can help improve their careers, such as by networking online with peers or becoming a thought leader.

Create content

Marketing teams should not be the only ones creating content that can be distributed to employees to share; each department should contribute in some form so the content is well-rounded and non-salesy. HR teams can contribute to the success of employee advocacy initiatives by creating content that helps employees showcase why they’re proud of their workplace, as well as recruitment-related content. For example, employees may want to share content about how their company gives back to their community, or share job openings with friends who are looking for employment.

By following these four steps, HR professionals can help boost employee experience, assist employees in their own career development through personal branding, improve recruitment and more. Employees have influence within their own networks, and encouraging them to share brand-related content can help companies exponentially expand their reach. With HR’s help, more companies can tap into this power. 

Carlos Gil is the author of The End of Marketing