The way people communicate has changed. We now often start conversations around pieces of content: “Hey Abby, have you seen this?”
How often do you experience this in your social media feeds? How often have you done this?
It’s no different in business communications; often you’ll get an email, a text, or a LinkedIn message from someone you’re professionally connected with, sharing a piece of relevant industry content.
Sharing content with each other can lead to better connections, better communication, and help navigate complicated deals. It can also help establish expertise and thought leadership for employees. But for some odd reason, companies are SCARED of doing this.
Since social media is a parallel to real life, why aren’t more businesses empowering employees to connect and share? Is it because social media “isn’t real?” (I just spat my coffee all over my screen writing that. So funny!). Can you not get value out of sharing content?
Let’s look at a few stats:
- Sales reps using social media as part of their sales techniques outsell 78 percent of their peers (Source: Forbes).
- 92 percent of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages when comes from someone that they do not know (Source: A Sales Guy Consulting).
- Content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels (Source: Social Media Today).
- Brand messages reached 561 percent further when shared by employees vs the same messages shared via official brand social channels (Source: MSLGroup).
- 98 percent of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50 percent are already posting about their company (Source: Weber Shandwick).
- 67 percent of employers and recruiters said that the recruiting process was shorter and 51 percent said it was less expensive to recruit via referrals (Source: Jobvite).
- Employees of socially engaged companies are… (Source: Altimeter & LinkedIn Relationship Economics 2014)
- 57 percent more likely to align social media engagement to more sales leads.
- 20 percent more likely to stay at their company.
- 27 percent more likely to feel optimistic about their company’s future.
- 40 percent more likely to believe their company is more competitive.
Do you know why all of this happens? Why these stats are so powerful? It’s because content consumption and social media sharing has become a natural part of everyday life.
Operating a business today without employee social media and content infrastructure is like not equipping your teams with phones and email.
Is your company equipped for this “change?” A change that has been happening for years, that’s now become the norm and here to stay? Are you so far behind that you still think social networks and sharing content are fads?
By empowering employees to share content strategically to their personal social networks, you’re investing in your team’s knowledge, in your brand, and in consumer trust.
So, are you the type of company that enjoys having a healthy brand and competitive advantage? Or are you the type of company that thinks Kodak had a great business and was right not to change?
Why Your Company Should Embrace A Culture Of Content And Sharing
There are many reasons why you should want to innovate your business model and shift to a culture of content and sharing. For one, if you don’t do it soon, you’ll be years behind your competitors and have a tough time retaining and attracting young talent.
But here are a few more reasons:
- Brand Health and Awareness: Your employees have thousands of connections across multiple networks. And their connections have thousands of connections across multiple networks. And so on, and so forth. Collectively, they reach a much larger and broader audience than your brand social channels. Also, because they use a personal brand, connections trust them more. Employees can help amplify your branded content to their networks, raising your awareness, creating positive brand sentiment, and improving brand health.
- Lead Generation: If everyone in your company shares industry articles to their personal networks, they’ll quickly be seen as experts. Investing in your employees’ thought leadership can help create a social selling program that fills a sales pipeline with leads. Strategically sharing content with prospects during the sales process can also shorten the buyer cycle and keep deals moving forward.
- Employment Branding and Recruiting: It’s hard to find talent these days. There’s a lot of competition for attention. Creating job descriptions and posting them to job boards will only get you so far. You might find a unicorn that way, but you’ll also get hundreds or thousands of unqualified people applying for roles at your company. Employees sharing content about your culture can help attract and source talent. Also, recruiters should share content to build connections and networks they can leverage for candidates.
- Employee Training and Knowledge Exchange: Embracing a culture of content and sharing forces employees to learn new skills, and be able to communicate effectively in today’s business world. By providing employees with the right knowledge and tools, you’re investing in their professional development, which helps with employee engagement. Also, if you have the right processes and infrastructure in place, you can develop their knowledge at scale.
So that’s great, but how do you get employees on board?
What’s In It For The Employees?
It’s clear that there are benefits for your company to invest in making employees more social media savvy at work.
But what’s in it for your team? If they share content, what will they get?
- Grow Professional Networks: Personally, this has been the biggest benefit of using social media for work. Early in my career, I already had had a strong professional social network, with relationships I could leverage in my career. And I’ve built on top of that. Often now, if I have a question or need an introduction to someone, there’s somebody in my network that can help.Every connection you make can lead to opportunities. And it all starts with sharing content strategically.
- Personal Branding and Thought Leadership: As you share more content, you start developing a personal brand. When people interact with you on different networks, they can start getting a sense of who you are, what you do, and what are your interests. And when you share more strategic content, people start seeing you as an expert in your industry and you build thought leadership. This personal brand can then be leveraged to create even more connections, relationships, and opportunities.
- Lead Generation: This becomes very important if you work in sales, marketing, or someone in charge of recruiting. People spend a significant amount of time interacting with content online, and connecting with eachother on social networks. With all this effort spent growing your professional networks, building your personal brand, and developing thought leadership, you’re essentially creating a mini inbound marketing engine that can constantly fill your lead generation pipeline. Every connection could be an opportunity that leads to a sale or new recruit.
There are plenty of benefits for using social media and sharing content for work, both on the company side and personal side.
Invest In Your Employees, Invest In Future Success
It all starts with content. Content has become a powerful tool for business. What was once only a marketing tactic is now a method of communication that can be used across departments and can break down silos.
It’s important when you think about making your company more social to take the time and put a strategy in place. What processes need to change? What infrastructure will you need?
Investing in the right tools and processes will make it dead simple for employees to consume content, improve their knowledge of your company and industry, and share to their personal networks.
Most of them are already on social. Many of them already share industry content to build up their personal brands. It’s no longer a question of whether or not your company should invest in some sort of infrastructure that ties this knowledge exchange and content distribution across departments, regions, and brands.
If you DON’T invest, you’re behind. The world is changing. There are new ways of communicating. People are consuming content. Period.
Don’t be the company that refuses to change, and ends up like Kodak. There are still ways to get competitive advantages in your industry, and making sure you have the right systems in place that can help amplify your brand, attract the right talent, and generate leads is not something that should be an “option.”
What are your concerns with employees sharing content to their social networks at work? How do you enable thousands of employees to share? How do you train your entire workforce on how to properly use social media for work? Please leave a comment below and share with your colleagues!
This post first appeared on the PostBeyond Blog