Social media in the workplace: How to encourage staff to spread the word

Written by Ross Howard on 3 April 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

How can you get staff to share your L&D courses on social media? Ross Howard has some tips.

Getting staff to sing your praises is the holy grail of PR, and in today’s world of social media sharing, such employee advocacy can help to generate more clicks for your courses. Essentially, if your team gets on board with distributing your content amongst their networks, your reach will organically extend in a cost-effective fashion, spread the word and increase the likelihood of new customers coming your way. 

Achieving this buy-in from your team helps to create a sense of camaraderie and shared vision, everyone working towards the goal of company growth, reinforcing job satisfaction and subtly positioning you as a fantastic employer - one that deserves recognition for the quality of products and services on offer.

From a consumer perspective, Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2017 (the annual report that examines wide-ranging global data) states that employees are the most trusted voices on a variety of business topics, so when staff do promote your content, it’s safe to assume they’ll be listened to and taken seriously.

The major potential barrier to this valuable source of publicity, is that some staff may not feel comfortable sharing work-related material with their friends, family and followers. If that’s the case, then so be it - you don’t want to pressure anyone into doing something they’d rather not.

However, for those colleagues happy to tap into a spot of brand advocacy, here’s a few tips to keep you on track and help ensure your social media strategy is a roaring success.

Show and tell

Ultimately, the aim of the game is to raise awareness and (hopefully) drive sales, but you don’t want to be so blatant about such intentions. Asking staff to spam their timelines with ‘buy our course’ messaging will inevitably go down like a lead balloon, so you have to be more savvy to cut through.

Peer-to-peer influence is a huge deal in the digital world, and you never know who will interact with your company after engaging with your staff on social.

Initially, the easiest way to facilitate natural social media activity is to create an aspirational company culture, one that staff will take pride in and shout about on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al. 

Attending conferences and industry events is a great way of adding credibility to your brand - proving that you’re on the pulse of change and aware of current affairs - and this is exactly the type of activity that will be well received on social media. As such, encourage your attendees to tell the world where they are and what they’re up to.

You should also post event updates from official company accounts, but be sure to tag those team members in attendance, adding a personal touch that steers away from stuffy corporate messaging. You should then ask your attendees to share any posts they’re tagged in, and likewise do the same for their updates.

Imagery goes down a storm on social, so any opportunity to post an interesting picture of your team - e.g. at a networking night, company lunch or annual meeting - should be embraced. Again, you should spur people on to take their own snaps and suggest they like, retweet and regram official company updates.

If any employees feel uncomfortable with having their picture taken, though, don’t force them to smile through gritted teeth. Instead, suggest they take on the role of official photographer - removing any tension while keeping them involved. 

Happy personnel

If you have a social media manager, you’ll want to get them to draw up a list of ground rules and guidelines about what is and isn’t appropriate (if they don’t already exist), so as to avoid any embarrassment to the business. That said, with a little common sense, most people know where to draw the line when it comes to commenting on work-related content. 

Talking of which, if you have an active blog that comprises of best practice advice, how-to guides and thought leadership articles, one of the best ways to amplify it and direct readers to your website is to encourage social sharing. I recommend emailing your entire team every time you publish a new post and request that first, they read it, and second they share far and wide.

Reading helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and up-to-date with company messaging - removing the negative effect of blinkered teams operating in silos - and sharing this type of material that adds value to the wider conversation frames your company as experts in the field.

Ask if team members are part of industry-specific LinkedIn groups, and see if they can share your blog on relevant discussions within the community - getting your content in front of targeted audiences. If you have natural wordsmiths in your team, invite them to contribute to your blog as well - people are much more likely to share something they’ve written and can feel proud of. 

Now you can sell

Having a steady stream of tweets, shares and comments from your team - showcasing company life and sharing interesting content - earns you the right to then, and only then, add the occasional sales message to the mix.

If you’re launching a new product - an elearning course, for example - do a promotional push requesting your team to shout about it on their social channels, including a link to the appropriate web page. 

Those involved with the project should be encouraged to add personal messages, such as, 'This is what I’ve been working on for the past x months and I’m excited to see it go live,' adding a few details about the course itself. 

You should also research a few hashtags that are likely to get noticed and elevate your posts, and make sure everyone uses them. Additionally, you could create a unique hashtag to summarise company life, adding some consistency to work-related updates.  

Peer-to-peer influence is a huge deal in the digital world, and you never know who will interact with your company after engaging with your staff on social. The only thing left to do is say thank you to those that help you spread the word, both in person and online, acknowledging their efforts to get you noticed.

 

About the author

Ross Howard is part of the team at Insights for Professionals, the unique knowledge hub for Marketing, Finance, Management, HR and IT professionals. 

 

Read more about social learning here

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