The power of a connected workforce: 2017 trend to watch

Progressive organizations  are increasingly harnessing the power of the connected workforce and their personal social networks. I did some work with Tourism Vancouver in this area last year, and I can personally attest to the positive results if handled well.

But many businesses still hold the keys tight on who posts and tweets on behalf of the company. And sometimes it’s for good reason. There is a carnage filled trail of marketing gone bad with stories of brands appearing to tweet bizarre, racy, and downright distasteful content at the hands of an alcohol fueled employee that forgot to log out of their own personal Twitter account.

There are no boundaries for what employees might say on their own social platforms, and there can be tremendous power in that message, provided there is proper training and trust. The appeal of third party intelligence from an insider is very compelling for consumers. And increasingly customers will search it out. Third party opinion, especially from a trusted source or friend, holds much more clout than what a company can ever say about themselves – paid or otherwise. Plus a company post is a single voice. Employees speak in multiples.

Put another way, it’s not just what the hotel says on social that matters. It’s what the 2,000 employees say that matters, because customers will find them.

In fact, according to Altimeter and their Social Media Employee Advocacy study in 2016, 21% of customers reported “liking” employee posts, which was far higher then the average brand post. The study also reported that 67% of consumers trust what their friends and family post. And possibly one of the most compelling statistics from the study was that 73% of salespeople, who incorporated social media into their sales process, outperformed their colleagues.

This trend towards consumers trusting and searching out employees and their posts goes in direct contrast to companies not allowing employees to post to social media. Basically peer-to-peer recommendations are seen as valuable. Consumers want to talk to someone like them, but with insider knowledge. In this new environment, employees can shift the share of voice on social quite a lot. And because the posts are through personal networks and not business pages, it’s not an environment that is monetized. Companies that empower their employees to use social could achieve huge reach, be seen as more trusted, and do it for no cost. That’s a pretty compelling proposition.

But to achieve this, it all comes down to TRUST and TRAINING of your employees.

You have to have trust in your employees, and ensure they actually have positive things to say, which will then cause you to examine your customer service experience and human resources policies. Transparency and trust can go a long way if your company is doing good work.

And training can be gained easily. Hootsuite offers free basic training through their Academy Program.  It’s free to take the course online, and only becomes paid if you want the certification credential.

This trend towards organizations harnessing the power of their connected workforce is progressive, and not without risk. However, in a crowded social space, with the pay to play model increasingly creeping in, harnessing the share of voice and reach through employees is a solid strategy.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your experience. Post a comment below!

Mary Charleson

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