Social Media for Employee Engagement: How to Build a Thriving Community
— June 6th, 2023
While growing a large social media following is impressive, in many ways, it pales in comparison with nurturing a lively, interactive, and connected community.
"Community is a sense of belonging, a feeling of having a place in the world, a recognition that we are not alone but are connected to others, and that our connections matter."—Parker J. Palmer.
Social media is a powerful tool that has transformed how we can find and consume information and communicate with others. It is commonly viewed as a personal medium, but have you considered how social platforms can be used to reach your employees, provide a forum, facilitate the exchange of ideas and opinions, and build togetherness?
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For businesses, social platforms have become important customer communication channels, allowing for the flow of information in a new, more immediate way. Organizations can better understand their target audience and what makes them tick. Using social media cleverly, organizations have built thriving customer communities around their brand.
But it doesn’t need to stop there.
Organizations can take advantage of the limitless potential of social media and apply it to their workplace. By introducing a social media employee engagement strategy, organizations can create thriving employee communities that drive engagement and deliver other far-reaching benefits to the business.
We know employee engagement is a long-running issue for global organizations. With new challenges like the Great Resignation and quiet quitting springing up, building better employee engagement is non-negotiable.
How Can Organizations Use Social Media to Tackle Employee Engagement?
Disengaged workers all share a common complaint—they feel disconnected from their employer. This can happen for many reasons: their work is not recognized, they don’t feel like their opinion matters, they feel like they are kept in the dark about company plans, or they may work remotely and struggle to make connections. All these reasons are valid and commonplace.
And that’s where social media can make a big difference.
By engaging with employees where they are, on their terms, and on a more accessible, human level, organizations can form stronger connections and supercharge morale.
Here are six steps to using social media to build employee engagement successfully.
1. Determine Which Social Media Platforms Are Best Suited to Build Employee Engagement
Let’s take the leading social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube and LinkedIn. Each of these platforms speaks to a different demographic and has its own unique selling points. Organizations need to identify the channels that will resonate with their people. Why not ask your employees which channels they favor and why?
Some will like the visual and fun aspects of Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube; others will prefer the bite-sized approach of tweeting or the interactivity of groups on Facebook. Most corporates value the business focus of LinkedIn. Depending on your comms team’s capacity, you could use all these channels or focus on a few. Whatever you decide, you need to create tailored content for each channel. Copying and pasting across multiple channels is a major No-No!
2. Consult With Employees About the Type of Content They Would Like to Share on Social Media
A flourishing community is one where all members feel like they belong. That their opinion matters. That’s why it’s important to pick employees’ brains on the kind of content they want to see and share on social media. Getting different perspectives is a vital step in building an exciting and unique social media community. The goal here is to write valuable and relevant content to maximize social engagement. Less frequent but more engaging posts will result in more participation and more worthwhile discussions.
Surveys or questionnaires are a good way of gathering ideas. Include the option to allow workers to submit their thoughts anonymously; some may be more comfortable sharing creative ideas in this way. Once employees see that their opinions are valued, they will be more likely to share openly and confidently. They will also be more likely to engage with and share your social media content if they feel like they have played a part in its development.
3. Give Employees the Help and the Tools They Need to Create Social Media Content
Next, it’s time to help employees develop those ideas. Make sure they have everything they need to curate or create content: brand and tone of voice guidelines, image libraries, multimedia resources, and approved tools and software (for example, video editing apps, employee advocacy platforms, etc.)
You want to empower your employees to create content while also ensuring this content is of high quality and in line with your brand and your existing social media presence. Some organizations choose to incentivize their people to share posts that highlight positive news or company culture. Others provide ready-made templates via employee advocacy platforms, such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite Amplify.
It’s important to note that organizations often struggle with finding the right balance between allowing employees to have a voice on social media while also protecting the organization’s interests and reputation, so crystal clear rules, training sessions, and workshops are always a good idea to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Social walls are a game changer in the office environment, fostering collaboration and boosting employee engagement. By displaying real-time updates from internal communication platforms, project updates, and employee achievements, social walls create a sense of connection and transparency within the organization. They transform the office into a vibrant and interactive space, where everyone feels involved and motivated to contribute their best.
4. Use Social Media to Highlight Your Employees’ Achievements
Shine a spotlight on your employees via your social media platforms. Recognizing employees’ contributions can have a massive impact on morale. 46% of US workers said they left a job because they felt their work was not appreciated, while 65% said they would work harder if their manager noticed and valued their contributions.
To show your employees some love, create a regular content segment on your social media channels where you recognize their achievements. Perhaps they just completed a large project, won a significant tender, exceeded their sales targets, won an industry award, or made a valuable contribution to your organization. You could also create dedicated social media posts to welcome new employees. Sharing this type of content not only shows your employees that you value them but also showcases the kind of organization you are in and how you treat employees.
5. Create a ‘Meet the Team’ Segment to Showcase Your Employees
Video interviews with employees shared via social media could create a real buzz around the workplace. Make sure you are interviewing workers from across all departments. Devise questions that give a real insight into a wide variety of roles and career paths.
This type of content aims to show your employees that you see them and the effort they put into their jobs. This kind of behind-the-scenes content is also popular with customers and job applicants who like to get a sense of a company through its people.
6. Amplify Your Social Media Content with Social Walls
Now that you’ve started your employee community, keep that momentum by amplifying your content throughout the workplace. Social walls dotted around the office are a great way to share your social media content and reach a wider employee audience. Employees who have worked with you or are featured in the content will get a real boost seeing their content on a big screen. Those who may not have been involved will get a better sense of what you’re trying to achieve with your social media strategy.
Remember to continuously measure and refine your social efforts. You could use a software tool, such as Buffer, to schedule posts on social platforms, analyze their performance, and from there, tweak them to increase reach and engagement.
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Social media is a potent tool, but like any tool, it needs to be used correctly and tactically. Organizations using social media to drive employee engagement need a well-honed strategy that, in many ways, takes its lead from the employees themselves. While social channels can often represent the more lighthearted, fun side of employee communications, it is crucial to acknowledge and address more serious issues such as privacy concerns, security risks, and the spread of misinformation. These critical matters should not be overlooked and must be carefully managed to ensure effective, responsible use of social media in the workplace.
Consulting employees on the type of content they want to share, putting them front and center, and encouraging them to play an active role in your social media strategy will make a massive difference in how they respond to your efforts.
Finally, if you genuinely want to build a thriving, enduring employee community on social media, consistency, and commitment are the twin drivers for sustained success. Better to commit to one channel and execute with excellence rather than spread yourself—or your team—too thinly. By consistently engaging with your employees, actively listening to their feedback, and delivering valuable content, you can drive meaningful conversations and cultivate a strong and loyal community that fosters mutual trust and respect.