Ten years ago, managers widely perceived social media as a distraction, even going so far as to block access to social sites on company computers. Today, the smartest businesses use employee social media use to their advantage.

Getting employees on board with your social media strategy will set you apart from your competitors without costing you a penny.

Use these tips to help your employees step up their social media game.

1. Share the Strategy Behind the Post

The first tip that everyone should use, regardless of industry, is to share the strategy.

It’s not enough to say: go forth and post. You need to say: here’s why we’re doing it and why it works.

Sharing the strategy will engage employees and make them more likely to post relevant content and become more creative. It lets them know how they’re contributing and avoids them feeling like you added one more task to their plate.

2. Establish WIIFM for Social Media

The second tip is a part to two to our strategy suggestion. Every company relying on employee social engagement needs to answer: WIIFM or what’s in it for me?

Why should they post and engage with you? Why should they follow your strategy? Good content takes time, so this is a question you need to answer before asking them to even like your marketing team’s content.

3. Use a Social Media Policy

It takes one post to go from hero to zero on social media. You need to tread carefully without stifling creativity. How do you accomplish that without personally vetting every post? You do it through a social media policy.

Every company needs a social media policy, and it’s even better if you build it into your employee handbook. Include the networks use, why you’re there, how to use them, and information on crisis management.

Be illustrative in your policy, and make sure you get regular feedback. Remember that “appropriate” on social media changes quickly, and you can find your policy moving from inspirational to oppressive in the space of six months.

Give Employees the Tools to Bring Your Social Profile to Life

Getting employees involved in social media raises your profile, creates free publicity, and even offers greater engagement at work. There’s no reason not to have employees shout about your company from the rooftops, but they need guidance before you let them loose.

A social media policy combined with strategy sessions will guide employees on what to do, when to do it, and what they get from their work. Remember that social media use is more than posting: it’s a creative endeavor that has value!

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