May the force be with you
This week, I have been following a thread on LinkedIn about forcing employees to share company content on social media platforms. Every one seems to agree that employees should not be forced to share corporate content. Employee advocacy is for now still a relatively new and unexplored communication and brand engagement field, and it is obvious that the debate is founded on the perception whether social media profiles are private or not. I will not go into details about privacy on social media but it for sure influence the perception of how and why we, from corporate, can expect that employees share and engage and represent the brand on SoMe.
However, few seems to have an opinion about the fact that employees already share content without consent from their employer. Yes, we want employees to share because we all know it is good branding when employees represent the brand - this is puzzling me: why is it better that employees' sharing is unorganised rather than organised, where the latter offers an opportunity to harvest the result of collective efforts?
Let’s make it clear. Employee advocacy should not be forced. You will never have longterm results when forcing colleagues to share and live the brand. On the other hand, organising the employee advocacy efforts and encouraging employees to engage with the brand is different in my opinion. Organising and planning content to meet employees’ preferences and field of expertise, content becomes highly relevant not only for employees but also for their networks. We see that focusing on relevance for the sender and its audience, instantly increases engagement. This is what communication is about, right, engaging your audience?
Let me explain. We all nurture our network. They are carefully selected. Some may divide profiles after preference, private network on Facebook, professional on LinkedIn and so forth. However we choose to divide our network, we tend to share content that is relevant to our personal preferences and specific networks. That is called personal branding. We try to control and develop the perception of our personal and professional selves. For good reasons. For instance, when searching for talents, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram is a great place to find information about your professional and personal life. In short, you have to have a strong online image. You are just as likely to google me, as I am googling you.
Tailored content drives engagement
Tailoring content to fit personal brands can be a tough challenge in large corporations. But that is no excuse to only make content unpersonal, branded, product specific content that employees are uninterested in sharing because everyone should identify with it. The opposite is actually the case; noone identifies with it. So maybe efforts are bettes spent on tailoring content for the sender and its audience rather than focusing on mass production. Influence can not necessarily be measured in volume.
My experience with employee advocacy tells me that most employees want to share the success and challenges of their company. Not just because they are loyal to their employees but because they find it valuable to share insights about their work. But of cause there is a privacy issue in these GDPR times.
Keeping it private
Content can be shared and link to the company page. However, I firmly believe that private social media accounts should be disconnected from the company. Instantly, this is contradicting the employee advocacy idea. Actually, it is not. It is just necessary to choose a tool that does not connect with private accounts. In short, with social connect and social login you accept that your profiles and social media login are connected to a third party providers such as an employee advocacy platform to ease access. With this connection, it is possible to extract personal data from your platform.
You have to make sure that the employee advocacy tool that you prefer does not have this security flaw. Platforms, such as Sociuu, do not have this connection to personal accounts but still provides valuable data about content performance and employee engagement. So, it is possible keep profiles private and unattached to the employer and thereby not intertwine personal and professional data.
To sum up, it is possible to have a private and safe but still organised employee advocacy programme where you are experiencing high engagement due to relevant and targeted content rather than forcing it upon employees.