Today I spoke at Digital Shoreditch, an event celebrating the creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of London and beyond. I chose to speak about utilising your workforce to gain a larger reach and more credibility in social media. Utilising your social media workforce is a trend that many companies are exploring and are seeing success with. We’ve all seen the stories of it going wrong, where individuals don’t quite understand the public nature of their updates and put something incredibly inappropriate, which then goes on to damage the reputation of the company that employs them. For example, the PR executive who tweeted before a trip to South Africa in late 2013. She was dismissed from New York-based internet empire InterActive Corp after the tweet went viral. JustineSasco-1024x828 However, the reach of your employees is huge. Think of all your staff who use Twitter, or who have a LinkedIn profile. Getting them involved could really help to reach brand new audiences, and give your own activity a much-needed boost. Your social media workforce are your best advocates, as they can genuinely speak about the business in a genuine and honest way. It’s a much more personal level than a billboard campaign or newspaper advert, which people are more likely to take notice of and trust. They can highlight great work you are doing, publicise any initiatives you are running and also what it feels like to work at your company. For example, Ashley works for St John’s Ambulance and recently tweeted about how rewarding it is working for the charity.StJohns-1024x608 The way that most of the social media newsfeeds now work means that the better posts do in terms of engagement (likes, comments, shares & clicks), the more visibility they will get. LinkedIn now arranges posts in the newsfeed depending on how popular they have been, rather in the order of when they were published. This is a point I will come back to shortly. So how should you get your staff engaged with your social media? Here are 5 ideas:

1. Create a clear and simple policy:

Do you have a social media policy or guidelines for your staff? By formalising this, you can be clear to your employees what is allowed and what should be avoided, how you expect them to act across social media and how to protect themselves. You can also suggest how they can get involved with the company activity to help you meet your goals. Take a look at Social Media Governance to see hundreds of top policies from Tesco, BBC and Adidas. Once your policy is ready, don’t hide it away in the intranet or in a folder somewhere. Remind your staff about the key points, as Dell has done. Put it by the kettle, in the loos or by the printer!

2. Encourage your employees to share (and make it easy for them!)

Your staff can be assisting your company posts to reach more people, by simply liking or sharing some of your updates. Often this isn’t happening because your staff aren’t sure what they are allowed to do or what’s appropriate. I’m not asking you to get all your staff posting all over their Facebook Pages, but a simple like on LinkedIn can help your company updates reach much wider, and often highly relevant, audiences.

3. Give your employees social media training:

Social media training can be extremely useful not just for expanding knowledge, but for giving your staff new ideas and inspiration in how they could be helping your company to reach new audiences and engaging your current customers. Often your staff will not understand why or how you are using social media, so showing them exactly how they can help and why they should help will hopefully encourage them all to get involved.

4. Make social media part of everyone’s role:

Okay perhaps not everyone, but it’s important to make it clear who in the company should be using social media, and make it official.  Macmillan Cancer overhauled their social media by training over 1,000 staff in the power of social media, and how it can be used in the organisation. By adding it to everyone’s job descriptions, from nurses to fundraisers, it is taken more seriously in the organisation, and they are now able to reach over 1 million people easily thanks to their staff offering advice, campaigning and supporting via social media.

5.  Empower your workforce!

Let your staff have a say in what’s posted in social media by holding regular brainstorms and invite different people from within the business to share their ideas and content. I have clients who have run internal competitions to encourage sales teams to send the best photographs from their global meetings, or that encourage their staff to tell the social media team what charity activities they have been doing in their spare time – all of this kind of content enhances the company brand and culture online. Let us know what you think about by getting the discussion going in our Facebook Group, the Avocado Social Media Hub. If you need any help with your social media strategy feel free to get in in touch.