The Insiders’ Guide to Employee Communications

By Poppulo

Table of Contents

Maximizing social amplification in the digital workplace

The potential for companies to tap into their employees’ social media networks is enormous. For example, Coca-Cola European Partners has around 215,000 followers on its official social media channels. But the combined social media following of its 25,000 employees is 23.4 million. Do the math!

1. Social amplification and the Digital Workplace

Social amplification sits in the context of the digital workplace:

The digital workplace is the devices and the services that the company provides or employee sources, that the employee chooses to do their job.

— Jonathan Phillips, Co-founder, Lithos Partners

The definition outlines a few home truths about the digital workplace. The first is that it’s a hardware and a software issue. The second is the digital workplace will include tools that the company provides, but also tools the employee chooses to use… inadvertently or maybe deliberately under the radar in an organization to help them do their job.

2. But what is social amplification?

Social amplification is the process and digital tools (usually an app) by which your content is shared and exposed, and amplified through whichever audience you chose – in this case employees.

3. How to make amplification happen

As ever, it has to start with great content. Currently, and typically, a company would share their messaging through their various social media channels, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, and their own website. A social amp tool would aggregate all this content into one back-end space.

With a social amp app we would source the content, aggregate it into a back-end tool, curate and edit it, moderate and polish it, and then push out the end result to a mobile device, so that it’s ready for the employee to consume in an easy and engaging way. And then the employee can share the content with their own networks.

A real advantage of having the perfectly polished content pushed out from one source is that it overcomes the current practice in many organizations where various channels are managed by different internal departments, e.g. HR being responsible for LinkedIn, the communications team in charge of Twitter etc.

What we find often is that the total holistic vision of the company content is not present. Social amplification tools are a great way to just drag this content in and to aggregate it in one clever space.

— Jonathan Phillips

But before content is pushed out to employees to share, usually through a company app, it is critical that it’s interesting, useful, engaging, written really well, and that it’s sharp and concise.

After content from various sources is aggregated into a single back-end space the next step is to curate it. This is about editing, deleting, polishing it, tailoring it so that it is ready to be shared by employees themselves. Time should be invested to make sure the content sings, that the content delights.

It’s also during the curation process that ‘sharing text’ is added. The vast majority of social amplification tools are mobile driven apps because the social experience itself is mobile driven.

A notification to an employee’s phone can act as an alert to new content, which can be enriched with imagery and video embedded into the social amp tool for a rich and engaging experience.

So already this content looks and feels smarter and more relevant, which then leads to the final step, where the employees share it with their network.

What’s really important here is the employee doesn’t have to make an effort, it’s just reading and hitting the share button, and significantly it’s shared with the external audience in a manner that is consistent and controlled within the parameters set by the communications team.

4. How to turn theory into practice

Firstly we need to ask why should we expect employees to share and amplify all that carefully created and tremendously engaging content we have gone to the trouble of aggregating and curating in one neat app?

We need to understand what’s in it for them because if we don’t, there’s a good chance they will never hit the share button and we won’t realize the value of it. Our employees will never be fans.

So what’s the value proposition for the employee, why would they share and amplify? It’s just easy! Employees love to understand what’s going on inside and outside the organization. They love to understand and connect with what the company is sharing with its customer base, be that B2B or B2C. This social amp tool is now the single source of information about company communications and there’s no need to go to the other various channels.

It’s also super-informative and really quick. And with the use of interesting and useful text, with imagery and video, it’s also really engaging. It’s a simple way for people to keep up to date with what’s going on.

It helps the employee build their own personal brand, which is something more and more people are aware of as they seek to add to their skillset. Personal branding is a really important part of an employee’s position these days. When they engage in social amplification they not only become ambassadors for their organizations but they build their own personal brand while simultaneously helping build the company brand.

It demonstrates employee strengths and skills that become apparent to a wider internal and external audience.

5. What’s in it for the company or organization?

Why would a company wish to invest in social amplification as part of the digital workplace experience? Well the first reason is all about network. A company would have a number of followers or connections on its LinkedIn or its Facebook page or on its YouTube channel, but the size of that network, even for the largest and most popular of organizations is nothing in comparison with the combined size of its employees’ networks.

Take, for example, Coca-Cola European Partners. The total number of its individual network points through its LinkedIn (200k), Facebook (8K) and Twitter (5k) followers is somewhere between 210,000 and 215,000.

However, with 25,000 employees, and based on an average figure (i.e. average in the numbers on social media and average in the number of followers or connections they have), the power of their network would be immeasurably different to the official network: 9.8 million on LinkedIn, 8.4m on Facebook and 5.2m on Twitter.

The next point is about trust and credibility. The Edelman Trust Barometer has for many years shown that employees are more trusted than the leadership of an organization and the company as a whole.

This means that for the same message, the same tweet, the same LinkedIn link, it would be more trusted coming from an employee than if it came from the corporate account, or even from the CEO.

So not only does amplification allow a greater reach of network, but it is also true to say that those who see it are much more likely to engage with it, have confidence in it and trust that message.

It also helps legitimize sharing. When a company develops a social amplification tool, the message to employees is clear: we want you to share; sharing is a good thing.

Sharing knowledge inside an organization is a great behavior to encourage because it’s the oil that lubricates the machinery of knowledge within a company.

So legitimizing sharing through these tools like social amplification really helps people understand the power of the network and the power of knowledge that can be implied inside the organization as well as externally.

Social amplification with the right messaging helps bridge the internal and external networks and can ultimately help a business win further business.

6. Don’t forget what might provide motivation!

What are the motivational factors someone might need to encourage them to take action?

Autonomy: It is super-motivating if you can give employees free and meaningful choice – and meaningful is the critical word here. When you consider social amplification there is already an inbuilt layer of autonomy in this space, so they have the free and meaningful choice whether they use the app or not; free and meaningful choice whether they read the content or not; and free and meaningful choice as to whether they share content and who they decide to share it with.

Mastery: The ability to be able to demonstrate that we have a skill or knowledge or particular experience is always motivating. If we were all honest, the opportunity to show off about something is always quite a motivating feature. So again, social amplification lends itself to this space because by sharing tools from the company with our own social networks we are demonstrating our own skills, our own knowledge and our own choices, which is also a big driver.

A sense of purpose: It is always motivating if people understand and feel a sense of community and greater purpose.

7. How do we encourage employees to open the social amplification app and read and share the content?

Perhaps the best place to start to answer this question is to realize and understand the environment in which you are competing for your employees’ attention.

Some stats to inform that understanding: more than half the webpages on the internet are being accessed by a cell phone. On average we access our cell or mobile phones 150 times a day and use it for 240 minutes each day. This breaks down to an average ‘per usage’ time of 96 seconds.

That’s 96 seconds to check Facebook, read email, read the news on CNN or Sky, play a game or whatever. That 96 seconds is what Jonathan Phillips calls the Mobile Moment and that’s the amount of time you’ve got to try to engage your employees on your social amplification app – or, for that matter, any other app – and for them to decide if they will share what’s been shared with them.

And that’s not the only challenge: Amplification is another app in the armory of many apps that we all use. On average we have 33 apps on our mobile phones, but only 12 of these will be used on a daily basis. So if we are to encourage social amplification in our organization the app needs to be in that magic 12 for it to occur.

But the challenge doesn’t end there. On average there are 3 apps that occupy 80% of our time on cell phones, so the social amp app has to be in that Top 3 for it to be really effective.

That is the scale of the challenge: it can only be met by ensuring the content ticks all the boxes of being:

  • Compelling
  • Engaging
  • Useful
  • Relevant
  • Visual
  • Shareable
  • Concise
  • Sharp
  • Fast
  • Meaningful
  • Actionable

The content must make the employee look good and it needs to work for them as well as working for the company. And for it to be shareable, it’s really important that it should also be fun – we all like to share something we find funny or humorous.

Your employees are your internal company storytellers. Use them!

This section is based on a Poppulo webinar with Jonathan Phillips, Co-founder, Lithos Partners: Digital Workplace – How to turn employees into fans.

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