Employees can be the best ambassadors for their employers, more so than a PR agency, CEO, or founder. As many as 20% of employees already are advocates for their employers, while 33% are primed to be employee activists, according to a study conducted by Weber Shandwick. The same study found that 50% of employees already post messages, pictures or videos about their work life on social media and more than one-third speak positively about their jobs on social media.
Work and social media are inextricably linked for most employees in today’s day and age. A Pew Research Center survey found that the main reasons employees use social media at work are to build or strengthen personal relationships with coworkers, ask work-related questions, make or support professional connections, and get information that solves problems at work. The popularity of hashtags like #lovemyjob (used over 8.5 million times on Instagram), #worklife (used nearly 2 million times on Instagram), and #workperks (used over 200,000 times on Instagram) indicate how willing and motivated staff are to speak (volumes) about their careers.
But which businesses have had success at activating their employees on social media at scale–and produced results? Here’s how teams across companies and industries have encouraged employees to advocate and engage on behalf of the company.
Adobe’s employee social media efforts took shape when one staff member, advocating for the company on social media, drove more revenue for the business than any of the Adobe-branded social media accounts, writes Lydia Abbot, Associate Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn.
As a result, Adobe’s Social Shift Program, which shares guidelines for social sharing and brand advocacy, was launched; the Adobe Life blog, which shares an insider view of life at Adobe, and the companion #AdobeLife social campaign were created. A brand ambassador program was formed to let selected internal personnel use their social influence to share important Adobe news and updates.
In addition, Adobe is proactive in encouraging staff to post on LinkedIn’s publishing platform about what they’re working on for the company and rate their experiences as staff on Glassdoor.
In the wake of a social media disaster, in which a video of one of the company’s computers catching fire went viral, Dell did not retreat. The company focused its employee social media efforts on social listening and created a training program for thousands of staff to become “Dell Certified Social Media and Community Professionals.”
This B2B marketing agency wanted to leverage LinkedIn as a platform for driving awareness of its services, and the company knew its staff could be a powerful force in this effort. However, they quickly realized they needed a tailored approach. Rather than targeting employees’ LinkedIn networks, they felt they’d have better luck if their employees became active in relevant LinkedIn Groups. With this new strategy in place, the company set about training staff to become LinkedIn advocates. The results? Increases in company page follower growth, referral traffic from LinkedIn to the company website, and LinkedIn blog post shares.
Realizing the potential of its sales and marketing employees to use their talents on their own social networks, IBM created a platform to easily enable staff to share updates about product promotions on their own social accounts. The internal network, which has been used by thousands of employees,, curates content for employees to share. The campaign, dubbed #NewWaytoWork, has landed the company 120 million digital impressions, 141,000 engagements, and the “Campaign of the Year” award at the 13th Annual American Business Awards.
It’s not new for companies to offer professional headshots for their employees. What Sodexo did to take things further in the social media age, was to have professional photographs taken for employees to use as their profile pictures on their social networks, with company branding added on each image, reports Monster.com.
The king of coffee is also a top performer when it comes to fostering employee engagement on social media. Dedicated to its staff (partners) are the Starbucks Partners accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, totalling nearly half a million followers, and the employee-centric hashtag, #tobeapartner, which has been used nearly a million times on Instagram. Partners share updates about work perks, achievements they’re proud of, and service they’re doing to give back to their communities.
Taking this team spirit centered around doing good and celebrating good deeds to another level, Starbucks has produced an original series called Upstanders, about “ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change.” Inspired by a partner, this series is socially driven as community members can nominate an “Upstander” vote for candidates, and share their support for the campaign on social.
Zappos offers Twitter training for employees and encourages social sharing about work life with staff-centered social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as an intern-specific Snapchat account. Zappos hosts Twitter chats, and asks for feedback about how they’re doing.