According to the latest employment report from the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. posted widespread job growth in July, with employers adding 528,000 jobs, surpassing economists’ expectations. The race for talent is going to continue to be competitive, and one way companies can keep their talent pipelines full of the right talent is by prioritizing social media presence and employer branding.
Recent data has shown that 82% of job seekers consider employer brand and reputation before applying to a job, and 86% use social media in their job search.
Therefore, engaging your recruiters, hiring managers, and other employees as ambassadors provides a level of authenticity and trust that will strengthen your brand to draw in top talent. Here’s how.
Start by educating your people on why social media is important to your organization. Employee social media engagement doesn’t always happen organically, so if you want your people to share your content, you need to encourage them. Get them excited about it, but above all, take time to listen to your employees, encouraging them to share any roadblocks to participating in this strategy.
One of the most common roadblocks is the effort it takes to post. It can be hard to convince people to post about the company on their social media pages when they are already busy with work and life. It’s therefore essential to give employees an easy way to post content, whether by using strategic automation in your employee advocacy program — letting people opt into your program and automatically sharing content so they don’t have to manually post — or by sharing pre-made suggested content they may modify and post, as opposed to asking them to start from a blank canvas.
The more authentic employees are in their content, the better and more effective your strategy will be. Also, be clear about how you want them to engage on social media, whether by sharing original content, resharing company content, or simply liking or commenting on posts or in online communities.
For example, Jena Vonderhaar, talent acquisition administrator at BCD Meetings and Events, found that after infusing the company’s social media with personal posts and employee advocacy, stronger connections were formed with candidates. “We were able to establish an authentic connection with potential candidates via social media early on, giving them a vivid picture of who BCD is,” Vonderhaar explains.
What’s more, a key way to create consistency in brand content without policing tone is to recommend phrases or taglines associated with your brand. An example of this is how the BCD team uses, “We are BCD Meetings and Events,” a simple phrase that can be seen across their company and employees’ social media.
It also helps to prioritize hot jobs that employees’ contacts may be interested in, as well as high-quality content that evokes thought. This content can include employees’ experiences and career growth, a behind-the-scenes snapshot of what an average day looks like, how their work and sense of purpose align with company mission and values, unique takes and opinions on recent company news, or data that’s eye-catching and relevant to their network. All this will naturally encourage people to post and share their own thoughts on the topic, while also increasing the credibility of your brand and fostering trust among your audience.
The reason this works so well goes back to one of the central reasons employees are sometimes reluctant to share company posts: They consider them uninteresting or largely irrelevant to what they want to talk about. But the more you post about things that are objectively interesting, the more employees are going to want to share and engage with them.
At the same time, keep in mind that not all employees are active on social media, so offer some baseline dos and don’ts for people who are less social media-savvy or uncertain about your corporate policy. For example:
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- Think before you share. Is your post in line with your company’s values?
- Engage with your audience. If people comment or reshare your post, give them a comment back to keep the conversation going.
- Bring your own personality and voice into your posts. Even though you’re sharing content related to your employer, don’t shy away from being your authentic self on your social channels.
- Tell a story but use shorter paragraphs and sentences to make it easy to read and understand.
- When in doubt or short on time, re-share company-created content that’s relevant to your network.
- Post offensive language or images, disparaging remarks, or content that would be widely considered inappropriate.
- Spam your audiences. Every social platform has a different posting threshold. For example, you may want to post only a few times per week on LinkedIn whereas we recommend more frequent posting on Twitter.
- Overthink it. If you have questions about what or how to post, ask your colleagues. Otherwise, it’s better to share a few brief posts each month than not posting at all because you feel like you can only share heavily analyzed thoughts and opinions.
By educating employees early on, you’re likely to end up with more participation and much higher quality engagement.
Boosting employee social media engagement is about getting the (virtual) party started. In any organization, there are the social butterflies and the wallflowers — those who love posting updates to their accounts often vs. the more introverted employees who still haven’t changed their social media’s default avatar.
Harness the natural enthusiasm of the frequent posters as a way to encourage less social-savvy employees to follow suit. By praising those who participate loudly and often, you can create a positive reinforcement loop.
A good practice is to highlight successful employee posts during weekly staff meetings. Research conducted by professors of cognitive neuroscience at University College London has shown that our brains encode positive information better than negative. Positive reinforcement also works because many people love positive attention and most organizations are naturally competitive. By building on organic enthusiasm, employee advocacy transforms from a chore to a contest.
A social media contest can be as simple as offering an extra day of PTO to employees who engaged with your company the most that month. With that, be cautious not to spark a sense of resentment from employees who prefer to separate work and life. Remind employees that this is an opt-in initiative, and that there is no consequence for choosing not to participate. Also be sure to mix these programs in with others that do not require participating in social media posts for those who choose not to participate.
Ultimately, at a time when we must get creative about how to keep talent pipelines full, employee advocacy is a collaborative effort that has the power to strengthen and showcase your company brand and culture, thereby attracting more qualified talent.