Employees on social media – A risk or an advantage?

Text: Camilla Bergmann

Today there are 1,8 billion active users on Facebook, 600 million on Instagram, 317 million on Twitter, 300 million on Snapchat and 467 million on LinkedIn worldwide

The use of social media has increased significantly in recent years and by now you can not avoid that your employees are on social media. For many companies this development leads to a number of considerations about the company’s image.

Are employees on social media an advantage or is it a risk to the company’s image and reputation? What kind of challenges are companies facing in this context? And can these challenges be turned into something positive, so that the company can get the most benefit of employees on social media? How can you get your employees to be the best ambassadors of your business on social media? How can you get started on Employee Advocacy in your company or organization?

Up for discussion during SMWiCPH
These issues were discussed at a panel debate during this year’s Social Media Week. Maersk hosted a sold-out event about “Employees on social media – A risk or an advantage?”. The key speakers were skilled professionals working with social media. The panel consisted of: Michael Soerensen (CEO & Founder at Sociuu), Hans Tosti (Head of Social, Dansk Supermarked Group A/S), Tina Mellergaard (Head of Social, Landbrug og Fødevarer), Anne Frost (Consultant and coach in Employee Advocacy, Digital management and communication), Leif Carlsen (Social Selling Company) and Thomas Tom Thomas (Digital Strategist at A.P. Moller – Maersk).
All six shared their experiences, gave advice about Employee Advocacy and inspiration for bring the topics in this short article.

Employees may be the company’s best advertising pillars when it comes to providing visibility and credibility on social media. With the right approach, every company can use their employees in corporate branding, and make employees valuable ambassadors for the brand or corporate image.

How can your business use employees on social media?
Initially the discussion centered around that every business is different but that there are always ways in which you can draw benefit from your employees on social media and what you need to be particularly aware of.

How to get started Employee Advocacy in your company or organization
Some simple advice from Tina Mellergaard Jensen, Head of Social, Danish Agriculture and Food Council:

  • Use 3-5 ambassadors.
  • Start with the employees who have a little vanity. Those who want to show professionalism and thus with the organization or company.
  • A good way to start focusing on employee advocacy is by involving the top management from the start of the process. It is crucial to to the implementation of employee advocacy on social media that the company management helps to involve the other employees.
  • Have fun and motivate the employees to participate.

What to do when employees talk negatively about the company’s attitudes
One idea that was brought up in the panel was that the company could write down social media policy and guides where you encourage the employees to remember their loyalty to the company: Do not say negative things about customers or the business and do not convey information. E.g. the Social Media Manager of the company can do courses where social media policy is discussed. In addition to involving employees in courses in the beginning of their employment, a media policy could also be part of the job description or contract.

Do not automate all content
It may be that some employees do not dare to speak or do feel compelled to tell about the company on social media. Employees need to feel confident in representing the business. You can train employees so that they can later share their own knowledge and stories. But you can not automate all content, as there would not be authenticity. You can help the employees to spot what they can share, like and comment on.

To some extent employees must do what they want but they must be able to vouch for it.

What are your experiences?
Do you use employees in your corporate branding?
What is your strategy? Tell us your experiences and advice. Leave a comment, please.

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