Companies that want their employees to act as their advocates on social media need to have clear policies, a consistent approach and possibly even financial incentives, according to new research.
The Marketing Advisory Network report, which was based on a survey of close to 500 professionals this past spring, showed that only 27 per cent have posted a positive comment about their employer online. On the flip side, 78 percent said they have commented positively to someone directly, suggesting it’s a matter of shifting behaviors to digital advocacy.
Of those who are spreading the word about their workplace, the dominant channel was Facebook at 87 per cent, followed by Instagram and Twitter at 54 per cent. In contrast LinkedIn, which focuses on careers and hiring, ranked much lower at only 36 per cent of employee advocates.
Samantha Stone, founder and CMO of the Marketing Advisory Network, said the percent of Facebook posts that are work related is a tiny fraction compared to the percent of conversations that are work related happening on LinkedIn. She also said that employee advocacy needs to happen on the platforms where people are most active today.
“In fact, I’d argue that those channels are no longer only B2C oriented,” she told B2B News Network. “For example, just this past month I had two coffee meetings with long-distance professional contacts only because I saw them post on Facebook they were in the Boston area. I reached out via messenger and we were able to coordinate a get together.”
The research breaks down habits and trends around employee advocacy in a myriad of ways including gender, role, and other demographic categories. Only 47 per cent of Baby Boomers, for example, share information about their job, while 81 per cent of Millennials acted as employee advocates in some way. Stone pointed out, however, that there are nuances in the way the younger generation approaches it.
“Millennials are extremely comfortable with technology, but not always with employee advocacy. As they grow into leadership positions we will see the type of content they share shift to reflect their growing role in the company,” she said. Younger employees might be eager to share pictures of a company picnic on Instagram, for instance, but possibly share more and richer kinds of content as they know more about their industry.
“We will see them lead the evolution of content format, transforming channels from push distribution mechanisms, to interactive forums,” Stone said.
Uncertainly about what to share was cited by 12 per cent of the survey group, while 15 per cent expressed worries about sounding like a “company robot.” The report suggest companies put out content prompts and incentives. Money ranked as the highest incentive by 44 per cent, followed by contests with prizes.
Of course, technology could assist with employee advocacy programs as well. Stone said tools that offer ways to measure, training, content distribution or creating a feedback loop through leaderboards and management insights will all likely see greater adoption.
The full 2017 Employee Advocacy Impact Study is available for free download.