Employee communication on social media. How can we create value?

Today, all progressive organizations clearly understand that employee communication on social media can positively influence marketing, sales, and talent attraction results. But is any kind of employee communication beneficial?

Personal brand and employee advocacy: what do they have in common?

When looking at the phenomena of employee communication in social media, especially LinkedIn, it’s important to understand two concepts. The first is a personal brand. Even though there are plenty of definitions of it, the most accurate would be to describe it as a gut feeling, opinion, or impression about another person. It tells others who we are, what value we create, what or who we represent. We all have a personal brand because other people have a feeling about us whether we take care of it or not.

The second concept is employee advocacy. In essence, it’s a voluntary recommendation of the organization inside and outside of it, as well as a voluntary spread of its ideas. It can be done both verbally and not. Some people believe employee advocacy is the highest form of love for the organization.

At first glance, it seems like these two concepts are barely related – personal brand speaks about us, while advocacy is all about the organization. But the basis of each is a person and their communication. In many cases, even when a person talks about themselves, they also spread the word about the organization they represent. For example, by illustrating a post with a picture where the audience can see the colors of the organization or its symbols – a branded piece of clothing, a cup, or a water bottle.

It’s easy to recognize employees-ambassadors on social media – they spread information about products, services and initiatives by the organization, both directly and indirectly, and share positive reviews of it.

Organizations’ ambassadors – the new influencers

People who we called ambassadors of various organizations a few years ago can be easily called influencers today. But let’s remember our typical influencer – they never share one type of ad. They work with multiple brands and share snippets of their personal lives. Likewise, employees who are also ambassadors can and should share various content.

Over the last few years, we have seen more and more research that proves the influence employee advocacy and ambassadors with strong personal brands have on the results of organizations. For example, research by Patrick Thelen in 2020 showed that employee advocacy encourages an organization’s growth and sales, strengthens the human capital and increases productivity, improves reputation and ensures smoother crisis management.

Another research from Lithuania shows that people who take care of their personal brand are perceived as more reliable, trustworthy, and attractive, and their expertise is more visible. Research also reveals that, by investing in personal brand development and employee advocacy, organizations can achieve better results in three areas: marketing (better visibility and image), human resources (talent attraction, positive influence on employees), an sales (new potential and retained current clients).

Ambassadors’ content. How can we create value?

Even though the fact that more and more people dare to communicate on social media and organizations encourage this, is quite pleasing not everyone thinks positively of it. The reason for this is simple – some content can seem overly sweet, banal, or even fake. Not to mention the stereotype that those who communicate actively only wish to show themselves off.

It is wrong to think that all ambassadors’ content must be praise for the organization. As examples mentioned before reveal, even the subtle details can work when increasing the organization’s awareness. And if we wish for successful advocacy and personal brand development, we must ensure that content varies.

For example, by sharing a certificate of a newly-acquired qualification, a person, seemingly, demonstrates their achievement. But, at the same time, they can send a message that the organization they represent invest in employee self-development. Likewise, although posts with gifts from colleagues, pictures from workcations and similar content might seem like simple, joyful messages, they also reveal that the organization takes care of its employees and tries to ensure they feel good at work.

So, to benefit from ambassadors’ content, there is no need for it always to be directly related to the company. It’s also important to remember that what many call simple bragging is actually creating different value for the audience. Information, education, sense of togetherness, motivation, inspiration, entertainment – all of this is valuable content. It’s natural that people like different types of content. But it doesn’t make one type less worthy than the other, just as a non-existing direct mention of an organization does not break the whole employee advocacy program.

When representing an organization in social media or encouraging our colleagues to do so, remember to create value for your audience. But remember that each of us values different things, so let’s try not to underestimate seemingly “simpler” content.