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How to Engage Your Employees in Your Content & Social Media Marketing

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Does your brand suffer from channel envy? Have you looked at competitors’ social media pages and wondered how they grew such a large and loyal following, when you’re just as big a player, or bigger, in your industry? And your content is just as sparkly?

It may be that they’ve tapped a hidden and under-utilized audience to gain a boost: their employees. With organic brand social engagement on a gradual decline due to ever-stingier algorithms that push pay-to-play—employee engagement offers the potential to widen your online reach.

Think about it: employees represent a built-in audience that has already “bought in” to your brand; one that’s more likely to sing your praises than the average digital passerby. According to recent LinkedIn data, employees are 60 per cent more likely than those outside your organization to engage with posts from coworkers—and 14 times more likely to share your brand’s page content. Employee engagement can lead to eight times more company-page views, four times more followers and up to four times more job applications.

But the advantages go beyond numbers alone. Getting employees involved online improves morale and also humanizes your brand, showing off who you are behind the logos and sales pitches, allowing people to see themselves in your team, identifying and building a genuine connection. Not to mention kindling trust, which is the leading driver of purchase decisions these days.

How to engage your employees in content marketing

OK, so you know you have an untapped army of advocates in-house just waiting to propel your online presence to greatness—what do you do about it? Shoot off an all-staff email not-so-subtly reminding employees that they should be following the company on social? Make “liking” and “commenting” part of their daily responsibilities?

Oof, no: please don’t do this.

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Nothing looks worse on brand social channels than slews of generic and perfunctory comments. It feels fake, and people can sense something off from a mile away. 

Remember, you’re not looking for an army of bots here. You want real people, engaging genuinely because they want to; because they feel a part of something and inspired to join in. Instead, read on for what we recommend.

1. Start with employee social media training and resources

Most employees have some experience with social media in their personal lives, but social smarts and platform usage really vary from person to person and generation to generation.

While your Gen Z employees may be well-versed in TikTok and Snapchat, for instance, some have probably never set foot on Facebook. Older employees and C-suite folks may not spend much time on Instagram. And a ton of people—of all ages and seniorities—are shy about using LinkedIn, even though it’s one of the main places where employees can participate professionally and make a difference in your brand’s engagement and perception.

If you’re inviting your employees to be social as part of their jobs, it’s only fair to offer some guidance. We suggest providing a couple of training sessions to empower employees with the skills and confidence they need. Even better, bring in guest experts and sharpen your collective skill on specific platforms, like LinkedIn.

Set some parameters, too, as in: what’s OK to share in a work capacity, and what kind of language to use and avoid when commenting and posting. We advise our clients to create and share a Social Media Policy and Handbook with employees to clarify the rules of engagement. Brand voice and tone guidelines can help a ton, too.

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2. Ask for ideas and empower your employees to share

Don’t be afraid to share your short- and long-term marketing goals with your team. At Forge & Spark, we keep a running roadmap of our future content plans, story pillars, and priorities, open for all to review. This kind of transparency leads to trust and a shared vision, which fosters participation.

Fire up a new Slack or Teams channel and get in the habit of sharing bullet points on upcoming campaigns and priorities, asking people to send ideas and suggestions, as well as their own photos and videos that might make good content. Employees love seeing themselves and their colleagues online (so do broader audiences, for that matter). They’re more apt to like, comment on, and repost this content—far and above your slickest corporate update.

 3. Shout your people out on your channels

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And speaking of featuring employees, make sure you celebrate them in your content, too. Most of the brands we work with—and companies in general—include recruitment and culture-showcasing among their social media marketing goals. And what better way to achieve these than putting the spotlight on your best resource, your people? While doing it, you’ll also give those people a bunch of reasons to come along and see who’s in the spotlight, ideally sharing the love.

One strategy we like is to regularly pull together tag-team pieces spotlighting specific departments or groups of employees. Send around a quick poll and create a post out of the best answers, paired with video or photos of the people who provided them, for example.

Our “crowd-sourced” blogs and social posts are some of our most popular and best-performing.Why? They put our people out front and give audiences a peek at who we are in a fun and accessible way.

4. Create incentives for participation, then recognize and reward contributions

Here’s a bit of tough love, though, employers: don’t expect something for nothing. In the attention economy, your employees’ engagement—particularly using their personal social media accounts—is valuable. After all, you want it for a reason, right?

While we’re not necessarily suggesting you pay your people to spend time on your social channels (though you could allow time during the work day), recognizing and thanking employees for their participation can go a long way. As can offering incentives and rewards. Exactly what employees value as an incentive will vary a lot from one organization to another. So go ahead and ask: if you were to earn some kind of reward for your idea/photo/video getting used on our social channels, what would that be?

Let’s craft your social media employee engagement strategy

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So, how are you feeling about engaging your employees in your content marketing? Are you ready to reap the benefits of wider reach and richer stories?

One final tip: keep in mind that this isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it thing. You need to continue checking in with your people, asking for ideas, empowering employee participation, rewarding contributions and training new employees in your content strategy. Work at it this way and you’ll steadily build an avid audience that not only throws a few likes here and there, but genuinely looks forward to commenting on your next Reel and seeing who’s featured in your latest post. With these advocates on your side, the algorithms are likely to take notice, too, pushing your content out to a broader audience.

Need a hand with your employee engagement strategy? We have firsthand experience helping brands get their people involved and excited about participating in content marketing! Drop us a message and we can schedule a chat about the possibilities.

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