6 tips to help your employees build engagement on social channels

If you’ve been reading our blog posts lately, you’ve heard me repeating like a broken record that social media channels prioritise content that sparks engagement within our personal network. That’s somewhat disappointing news for brand marketers updating company accounts. But this also incentivizes brands to build employee advocacy programs and engage their employees to be active on social channels, sparking discussions with potential customers. At the end of the day, people do business with people.

How do you build engagement with your personal profile?

You might want to take a look at concrete tactics (e.g., post scheduling and frequency) on how to boost engagement and shares on social channels.

Also, there are plenty of social media experts who tell you to let your personality shine and be consistent. Be formal or informal, being yourself is the key to success on social channels.

They are absolutely right.

But just like a performing artist, you’ll need to win the hearts of the audience over and over again. If you are a legend, say, Eric Clapton, your charisma and brand, and a guitar will be enough to spark the engagement with every post.

But if you are anything like me, just another enthusiastic marketer in Linkedin and Twitter, building engagement with a personal profile requires more than just tactics (e.g., optimising the time and day of the post) or showing my personality.

I’m sure colleagues in your employee advocacy program feel this too. Nothing’s more daunting than sharing something personal only to see the zeros mount up in the like and comment counts.

How can you help your employees to succeed?

Here are 6 tips to help your employees build engagement on social channels:

  1. Tell stories like Pixar.

  2. Create sequels.

  3. Say how you feel.

  4. Mention people and refer to their latest content.

  5. Tap into trending content with unique expertise.

  6. Explain global phenomena from the local perspective.

1 Tell stories like Pixar

Imagine yourself at a party with friends and someone telling an entertaining story engaging others to listen, react and comment.

Have you ever thought about what makes a good story?

For Pixar, an animation movie studio behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Cars, the key components of great storytelling are:

  • Be universal. Use familiar concepts and words that don’t need explanation.

  • Have a clear structure and purpose.

  • Create a hero from zero. People love stories with an underdog.

  • Appeal to our deepest emotions (disgust, hate, fear, dream, etc.).

  • Surprise. Add something unexpected.

  • Keep it simple.

Take a moment and go back to the latest memory of someone telling a story you enjoyed in a real-life situation and I’m sure you’ll quickly realise that the most engaging stories include some (if not all) of those elements. Even if you can't quite achieve the storytelling skills of the professionals at Pixar Studios, have a think about how you and your employees can start turning status updates to engaging stories.

2 Create sequels

When I was a teenager, it sometimes felt like forever to wait for the next weekly episode of The Sopranos. Today, most of us are watching Netflix and other streaming services, but the power of the sequel is still there; once you get started with a new engaging series on Sunday evening, you might end staying up late and feel tired at the office on Monday.

One way to build engaging sequels on social media is to share progress on a specific task on a weekly or monthly basis. Are you working on a development project where the process can be open and transparent to your network?

Bloggers build sequels by writing a series of posts within the same topic, creating anticipation for the next in the series, and then sharing the posts over time on social media and via email newsletters. Lately, we’ve written a bunch of articles on influencer marketing which we’ve shared in sequence from easy (e.g., goals of influencer marketing) to a bit more advanced level topics such as social data.

Or perhaps you could build a campaign for your employees and customers to post content regularly with a certain hashtag? Friends of Earth is asking their community to share their tips on how to live without single-use plastic for one day with hashtag #PlasticFreeFriday, and then use Flockler to embed social media feeds on their website. Another idea to get started with your employee advocacy program is to create a branded hashtag showcasing the company culture. For inspiration, check what the folks at Hootsuite are posting with #hootsuitelife.

3 Say how you feel

“I’ve started in a new role, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.”

That’s a very typical status update on LinkedIn and often gathers a decent number of likes. However, a relatively simple tweak will make it even more powerful and increase the engagement.

Instead of simply sharing a generic excitement, how about telling your network something more precise like how you felt when you opened the office door for the first time and met your new colleagues. When we share our personal feelings, it encourages others to respond with a story of their own. Also, when people describe feelings, their dreams and fears, they tend to share more than they’d do otherwise. 

How many status updates related to a new role are shared every year? Make sure your employee advocacy program taps into this opportunity.

4 Mention people and refer to their latest content

In a real-life discussion with friends or colleagues it pays off to show that you’ve been listening to others. The same goes for social media and following what your network is talking about.

When you share the next piece of content, mention one or two customers or partners in your network and refer to something they’ve recently shared or accomplished. You increase the likelihood of sparking engagement and discussion.

Employee advocacy programs that are getting this right multiply the amount of discussions with current and potential clients in a very short time period. 

5 Tap into trending content with unique expertise

I’ll admit straight up that this advice bears some risks.

However, when you have something to say, and you can connect the trending topic and your expertise, it’s extremely powerful to tap into the buzzy news story with unique expertise.

A great example? Here we go:

Steven Bartlett of The Social Chain Group, a social media marketing agency, shared a video showing how England’s success in FIFA World Cup this summer has increased the Google search volumes for waistcoats (inspired by England’s coach Gareth Southgate), and the volume of social media discussion:

Can you use your products and services to create stories and ask all your employees to share to their network?

6 Explain global phenomena from the local perspective

Another tactic is to tap into a trending story explaining global phenomena but from the local perspective. For example, a marketing agency in Sweden could share their insights on how the launch of IGTV by Instagram impacts the life of a local brand marketer, what they can learn from international brands and what the key differences are.

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At the start of this post, I mentioned that simple tactics might not be enough to cut through the noise but I can’t leave this post without sharing one quick and powerful tip for LinkedIn. The LinkedIn algorithm currently favours personal, text-based updates without links and you must have seen people adding a link to the comments instead of the post text. There’s a more effective way to this: edit the post quickly after posting it, and add a link anywhere in the original text.

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Are you planning to build an employee advocacy program? For inspiration, take a look how Valio, one of the largest dairy producers in Northern Europe, has turned employees into brand advocates. Employees is one of the three groups to incorporate into your influencer marketing strategy, and we've created a downloadable checklist on influencer marketing to help you plan, implement and measure your campaigns.

I'd love to hear your tips - send me a message on Twitter and let's chat!

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