Believe it or not, a number of businesses have consciously chosen not to encourage employee participation on social media. Worse yet, there are organizations that have heavy restrictions or block social media altogether.

Understandably, social can become a distraction or a waste of company time. Right?

And many business leaders or maybe even in your own mind you make excuses like:

  • “Our customers don’t expect to see our employees on social media.”
  • “We need control over what employees are doing, especially on company time.”
  • “Employees posting on social media sounds like a disaster waiting to happen for our brand.”

If this was 10 years ago when social media was just developing, then you may have a point.

But this thinking is flawed and very outdated in this digital and social age.
 

Why It Matters Your Company’s Employees Are Engaging on Social

Discouraging employees from participating in social media will never keep them off entirely; instead, it will increase the risk they’ll embarrass or misrepresent your business when they do speak up.

Conversely, businesses that encourage social media participation by their employees are reaping huge benefits and saving some money on what would normally go to paid advertising.

76% of individuals surveyed say that they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than content shared by brands.”

Some benefits of employees on social media:

  • Employee advocates on social media can assist in lead development.
  • They can direct traffic to a company website.
  • They help reach new audiences organically.
  • And they can build personal, loyal audiences that come to know and respect your company through interactions with one of your employees.

Of course, that is only scratching the surface of what we call “employee advocacy,” but it can completely help revolutionize your company’s results.
 
Related: Looking for valuable statistics about employees on social media? Here you’ll find the very best stats that apply to marketing, sales, human resources, and internal communications.
 
Still, the notion of creating an employee policy that encourages employee participation (instead of discouraging it!) can be a daunting step.

Here is some advice for getting over your fears about employee participation in your company’s social media initiatives.
 

Acknowledge that your customers are already following your employees on social media:

You may like to think that your customers and your employees live in two different worlds.

But the reality is that they’re all interconnected on social media – some by only one or two degrees of separation.

If your customers aren’t already following one or more of your employees on social media, chances are they will stumble across at least one of your employees at some point.

This is especially the employees who use their personal social media to say something related to your company its products or services, or even industry-related content.

98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company. (Weber Shandwick)
 

Stop pretending that you can get rid of all employee chatter on social media:

A blanket ban on employees discussing their jobs on personal social media simply doesn’t work.

People share so much about their lives on social media that no matter how hard you try or how much you penalize your employees, you’ll never be able to eliminate all job-related posts.

So, rather than standing idly by while your employees post whatever they want about your company, you should give them guidelines for how to post strategically in ways that will advance your company’s social media objectives and foster their own professional growth.
 
Related: A social media policy shouldn’t just focus on making sure your team doesn’t mess up. It also can encourage your team to be more involved with social media, amplifying the brand organically online. Download The Best Social Media Policy Examples & Template eBook.
 

Remember that you control who you hire:

This may seem like a “duh” moment, but it’s so important to take a step back and realize your company hired each one of your employees because you trusted them to get the job done.

So trust them just a bit more, and let them advocate for your company on social media. If an employee disappoints you, you don’t have a social media problem; you have a personnel problem.

Employees should be excited about their work, their company, and are more willing to enthusiastically talk about the company online. If this also is not happening, you also have a work culture problem that should be addressed.

The good thing is, your company can pivot and fix any cultural or hiring issues.
 

Don’t shortchange employee training:

When you embark on any new company initiative, you provide your employees with ample training to jumpstart their paths to success.

The same is true with employee social media advocacy; in addition to imparting practical know-how, you must make sure your employees understand the expectations and opportunities of becoming social media advocates.

And you must make them feel supported and completely comfortable in this endeavor. You don’t want to force employees to do this, but you want to provide ample opportunities for them to learn and see what’s involved.
 

Seek out help from social media professionals:

Your business doesn’t have to navigate employee advocacy alone.

The exploding field of social media advocacy is filled with experienced professionals who make their livelihoods helping others learn the craft. Many times your marketing or social media team can help lead these discussions.

But, your company could also hire a part-time consultant to periodically evaluate your strategy. This can also be an important step in ensuring you and your employees are staying on track.

Or for example, EveryoneSocial can also help you with your employee advocacy efforts. Our social media sharing platform makes it easy for your employees to share relevant industry content and appropriate corporate content via social media. But we also provide expert client success, guides, and content to help your company succeed.
 
Related: Learn how Dell empowers its workforce on social media through work culture, training, and the right technology. Download your guide to learn more.
 

Final Thoughts

The phenomenon of employee advocacy on social media is gaining popularity across a number of the world’s most successful organizations, including IBM, Adobe, Microsoft and Electronic Arts.

By acknowledging the realities of how social media works, and by allocating proper resources and time to social media advocacy, you can join some of the world’s top organizations as a company that not only values the time its employees spend on social media but also works to optimize it.

In this digital age employee participation in company initiatives is a must. Your company can no longer afford to be left behind and be fearful of employees actively engaging on social media.
 

Looking for more about employee participation on social media? Here are 6 ways to get all employees active in social media marketing.