Employees can be powerful brand advocates for a company.
For example, employees can use their own online accounts and social media accounts to spread positive electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM). Email, chat rooms, discussion boards, job boards, and forums are all channels for employee communications that can boost a company’s reputation.
However, there is also a danger in allowing employees to communicate on work-related issues in their own time and on social media platforms. There is no clear delineation between an employee’s personal and professional posting. An employee could embarrass a firm by posting negative information, or the employee’s social media account could show undesirable personal information that is inappropriate for a firm advocate.
Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily recommends providing some guidelines for companies who encourage their employees to comment on work issues.
- First, positive postings are preferable. To encourage positive feedback from employees, offer incentives. Employees should understand that they will benefit from the positive branding of their company.
- Allow employees to choose for themselves whether they post or not and the content that they disclose. Attempting to force employees to be brand advocates in a specific way is likely to backfire. Employee engagement should be motivated by a genuine desire to promote the firm.
- Rather than creating restrictions, provide employees with examples of postings that they can use as models. Ask employees to appear as company advocates on your website, and let them create videos or texts. Provide general guidelines for word length or duration, and screen all material to ensure consistency in branding.
- Use software to manage social media postings and your reputation. Social media tools such as Google Alerts, SocialMention, Who’s Talking, and HootSuite provide search capabilities that can monitor any web activity concerning your organization. Some employee advocacy tools that staff can use include Addvocate, Circulate.it, and Command Post.
Most importantly, your company’s reputation on social media is critical to continued success. Allocate resources and staff to monitor customer and employee comments and postings. Negative postings should be managed immediately. Create an emergency action plan and ensure a quick and effective response to minimize any damage to your reputation.
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