Content Sharing

Professionals & Online Peer Group Activity

  • Professionals spend 40% of their time online in peer-based communities
  • That’s closely followed by interactions with friends (31%)
  • And 13% of time interacting with family online

Social Sharing Icons

THOUGHT: I can tell we’re starting to make progress when instead of questioning why companies should let their employees use social media they ask me how their employees can contribute to their company’s online strategy.

Organizations dip their toes in the content creation waters soon come to realize they need channels through which to distribute that content. As a result, they are starting to cast their eyes on what may seem low-hanging fruit: Their own employees.

While harnessing your staff’s own social networks can pay big dividends, it should not be pursued without careful consideration.

Here are some things you need to think about:

Do a survey of employees and their online presence to find those people who are already sharing company content without prompting. Identity those who are doing the best job and consider asking them to take a leadership role in your employee social sharing program. They obviously have the enthusiasm to be successful and have already demonstrated a social media proficiency with which you are comfortable.

Clearly explain the benefits the company gains by having its content shared through social channels. Explain to them the reach of potential new customers and revenue (which of course builds a stronger employer) that employees’ own social networks offers, explain how social media activity (Likes, shares, tweets/retweets, views, and comments) contribute to raising the visibility of that content through search, thereby making it easier for the company to acquire new customers.

Put yourself in the position of the employee. Consider how the employee will feel and/or react to being asked to share company content. They will likely have mixed emotions about being asked to share company content with their family and friends to which they are connected on social media. They will likely feel obligated to share such content but may do so begrudgingly and feel as if they are spamming their friends and family. They may feel they are taking a professional risk by being “out there” if only a few people are sharing content as well.

Because of these various and often conflicting dynamics, you’ll also want to seriously consider these elements of your program:

Modeling. Do the people who are asking employees to share content walk the talk? Do they, themselves, share company content regularly with their personal social networks? What is the attitude toward social media of the supervisor of the employee you’re asking to share content? What about senior management…do they share content?

Content. What kind of content are you asking employees to share? Is it any good or is it simply promotional? Consciously or subconsciously, people put their reputations on the line with every piece of content they share on social media. They will therefore make calculations such as 1) are my friends/followers going to benefit from this (this is why coupons tend to do so well, for example. People like to be the bearer of gifts) and 2) how am I going to come off by sharing this? One type of content will make the employee feel like a shill while another type of content will make the employee look like an expert in their field.

Training. Provide training for social media in general that is personally beneficial to the individual employees as well as the company. Teach them how to use these tools better in their own lives and they will become better at using them for the company’s benefit and will gain a greater appreciation for how sharing content can benefit both themselves and the company.

Metrics. Share analytics that demonstrate how your employee sharers are “moving the needle” with their activity. Show them that what they are doing is having an effect and explain to them how it is having an effect. If they don’t understand why they are sharing, it may seem pointless and a waste of time.

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GOING MOBILE: This Wednesday I will be discussing mobile strategy with the Minnesota chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Be sure to say hi if you plan on attending. [REGISTER]

PODCAST: Beyond Social Media: Oprah’s Ill-Advised Surface Tweet & Facebook’s Bait & Switch – Listen to last week’s podcast and listen to Beyond Social Media with myself, Albert Maruggi & B.L. Ochman live every Tuesday night at 8:30 PM CST.

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Content Sharing
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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.