The Real Reason Employees Aren’t Sharing Your Content
Many of us have heard the proverb “there is nothing new under the sun,” which reminds us that no matter how ingenious our innovations, they’re almost always based on something that’s been around longer than we’ve been alive. Like many things, this logic holds true for content marketing.
The reason content marketing has been around for so long is that it works. But like any trend—technology or social—it also follows the typical S-curve of channel maturation—which means that it was most effective in its early days and has become less effective as more people jump on the bandwagon. That’s not to say, “content is dead,” but recognize that, as the environment has become saturated, for content marketing to be effective requires buy-in and distribution from multiple sources, including your in-house employees.
The Case for Employee Advocacy
One particularly impactful way to increase the reach and effectiveness of your content is through employee advocacy: getting employees to share your brand’s content through their personal social media channels. A quick look at a few stats illustrates just how powerful that can be:
- 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know more than they trust advertising. (Nielsen).
- A brand message shared on an employee’s personal social network is reshared 24 times more than when the same content is posted by the brand. (MSLGroup).
- 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company (Weber Shandwick).
The Infrastructure is Already There
Taking advantage of pre-existing resources is a smart move for any business. And when it comes to pre-existing resources, your employees’ social networks are low-hanging fruit: 98% use at least one social media site. And yet, according to Weber Shandwick, only about 50% occasionally share their employers’ content.
3 Reasons Why Your Employees Aren’t Sharing Your Content
That’s a huge gap (and opportunity), and it’s causing businesses of all sizes to ask the same question: Why?
1. They Don’t Know You Want Them To
When you live and breathe content marketing and social media, it’s easy to assume that employees know you’d be thrilled for them to share the content you’ve worked so hard to produce. But they probably don’t.
2. They Don’t Know They’re Allowed To
It wasn’t so long ago that an employee could be reprimanded—or even lose their job—for talking about their employer without authorization. That was a job for lawyers and PR pros. For many companies, it just hasn’t occurred to them to tell their employees that the rules have changed.
3. You Haven’t Asked
Even employees who aren’t worried about the repercussions of sharing public-facing company content may not realize that you want them to share content.
But, There’s An Easy Solution:
- Develop a social media policy that clearly tells employees what, when, and how they can share content. If you already have a social media policy, make sure that it is widely distributed and accessible. You may even want to include it in your onboarding for new employees.
- Encourage employees to participate. You may even want to consider an incentive program for your best “social champions.”
- If your network blocks social sites—stop. It makes no sense to ask employees to share your content only to throw barriers in their way. This may mean that you have to work with other departments like legal and IT to discuss social sharing and your business network and find a compromise that works for your organization.
The bad news is that there is more to why employees don’t share content, and that’s because it can feel spammy and weird.
Don’t Make It Weird
Somewhere along the way, many companies deluded themselves into thinking that all employees are passionate about their product or service. Everybody at BMW must be a car fanatic, and everyone at Fine Cooking must spend every spare moment developing and testing recipes. Oh, and all their friends are just the same…right?
When you put it like that, it seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? BMW undoubtedly has HR managers whose world doesn’t revolve around cars. And Fine Cooking probably has accountants who can’t boil water. That doesn’t mean they aren’t loyal to the company; it just means that they may not spend their spare time thinking and posting about your core product. And their friends may not be interested at all.
If you want your employees to share your content, your job is not done once you’ve made your content accessible, encouraged them to share, and created a social media policy, you have to show them how to make it not spammy and weird. And that means giving them suggestions for how to put it in a context that their social network can relate to. For example:
- Data security company: Your employees’ friends might not care about the latest breach at a company they’ve never heard of—until they realize that breach might have put their personal information in some hacker’s hands. So while employees might not share a technical analysis of the breach, they would share tips on how to find out if you’re at risk and what to do about it.
- Technology company: Your employees’ friends might wonder why they’re sharing information about the difficulties in procuring rare earth elements—until they realize that those difficulties could affect their ability to buy batteries, cell phones, etc.
- Winery: Your employees’ friends might not have much interest in tannins and how they affect the taste/feel of red wine—unless you put it in the context of how to impress a date.
Your employees want to look smart, cool, connected, etc. They don’t want to spam their friends. The solution is a good dose of humility and objectivity. Ask yourself why someone outside your target market might be interested in your content. Use that insight to provide a framework or context your employees can use for social sharing. Give them a “why” that makes sense and helps them look good. That’s the best thing you can do to enlist your employees’ help in getting your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
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