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Employee Advocacy for Social Media: The Pros and Cons

The Pros and Cons of Employee advocacy for social media.

When it comes to social media for businesses, employee advocacy is a challenging but valuable tool for added exposure and brand recognition. Put simply, employee advocacy is when a business uses employees and their social capital, such as social media accounts, to aid in its marketing. Rather than employee accounts being entirely their own and not connected to their employer, they would be partly responsible for aiding in your business’s success.

This strategy has its advantages, but it is not for everyone. If you are curious whether this method would suit your marketing campaign, take a look as we cover each of the major pros and cons of employee advocacy on social media.

Pro: Expanded Reach

Imagine that you publish videos as your main content format, and you normally post each finished video to your business’s social media pages. Now imagine that in addition to that, you have all of your employees publish or share the video on all of their social media pages as well. On average, having employees share a message can increase its reach by 561 percent. The guaranteed boost in visibility from other accounts can be a big help, especially if yours is a larger business with many employees.

Con: Time and Work Intensive

Image via Flickr by uberof202

Chances are that your employees already have plenty of work, and unfortunately, employee advocacy isn’t as simple as posting the occasional content piece on multiple sites. Real social media marketing of all kinds, including employee advocacy, must involve engagement. That means your employees should be having conversations with others on social media in the same niche, taking opportunities to share your brand’s content and message more, and communicating with potential customers for some classic relationship marketing.

This will all require an outlined plan establishing minimum time spent or actions performed online for each employee. Start small and do not demand too much, or you’ll put off employees who are not very active online. Encourage engagement naturally, without forcing quotas on results. Social media is meant to be fun, and if your employees do not see it that way, their actions won’t come across as natural.

Pro: Strengthens Workplace Culture

Social media can be used not only for employees to communicate with customers and influencers, but also to better connect with each other. Encouraging these conversations will help deepen bonds and better establish the company culture that matters to you. Your policies will become less a list of rules meant only for work and more a way of life that enlivens employees and those they meet online.

Con: Unclear Personal Benefits

When presented poorly, employee advocacy can come across as a mandated marketing frenzy, and no worker is going to get excited about that. Fortunately, employee advocacy is just as good for your people themselves as it is for your business, and you just have to communicate this clearly.

On the employee side, here are some excellent benefits of social media advocacy:

  • Increasing credibility and involvement in the relevant field, which is great for anyone seeking new opportunities
  • Showing who is most invested and capable of supporting the business, highlighting potential candidates from promotion to marketing and other roles
  • Letting employees express themselves honestly. A stuffy, scripted video featuring employees talking about how they love their company will never seem as real or human as social media advocacy.
  • Building a friendly, competitive spirit by tracking who is getting the most results. Just be sure to rank only the highest-performing individuals, not everyone, or else those at the bottom of the list will feel discouraged.
  • Building mini-followings or micronetworks focusing on specific interests. For instance, a high-performing advocate who also blogs about baking will be thrilled to see some of the attention she generates spilling over into new traffic for her recipes.

If you build an advocacy plan that allows employees to take advantage of these benefits, and make that potential clear to them, you should face little resistance and more enthusiasm.

Pro: Can Be Managed by Employees

You, as a marketer or key leader in your business, don’t necessarily have to constantly check up on and direct your employee advocacy projects. Once the team has some momentum and experience, you could reward the best-performing employees by promoting them to social media advocacy leadership positions. This way, the online culture largely maintains itself, and employees help your business and themselves become more visible while you focus on other responsibilities.

Set a little groundwork in the beginning to discover who would do best with the reins, and trust them to manage the advocacy going forward. This shouldn’t simply be a person who earns high key performance indicators, such as followers and shares. Find the person who not only gives employee advocacy legitimate personal effort but encourages and supports the same momentum among other employees.

Con: Potential Controversies

Lastly, we would be remiss not to make it clear that employees can get their employer in trouble by saying the wrong things online. All it takes is someone having a bad day, and an employee might say something that explodes into negative press. Even so, you shouldn’t let the fear of a controversy stop you from taking up employee advocacy.

Develop a solid behavior plan that helps employees understand what they should never say or do on social media, such as bigoted remarks, personal attacks, or posting private information. Encourage conflict resolution and overall positivity. Most of all, know when to give a frustrated employee a break. Sometimes people face multiple trolls or other aggressors online, and it’s important to swoop in and let them be free of that before someone boils over.

We don’t aim to frighten you out of trying employee advocacy, because the rewards are worth the risk if a business is big enough and has an established culture. Just take into account that you will need to have a realistic mindset and approach in order to do employee advocacy right. If you do, you’ll have a tighter family of employees who will help you get your business seen online, all without spending a penny on additional advertising.

About the author

Shane Hall