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Jim Dougherty

Social Sharing Initiatives: Mobilize your Employees!

By: Jim Dougherty | June 20, 2013 | 
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Employees Social SharingMaybe you’ve experienced this: A thoughtfully designed Facebook page, with each painstakingly planned post largely unacknowledged.

Not knowing what to do, you ask a dozen of your co-workers if they have any suggestions about how you could improve things.

Therein lies a huge issue: You have a dozen co-workers who aren’t engaging with your posts.

So many businesses lament the fact that their social media presence is scatter-shot, yet they oftentimes fail to use their own employees for social sharing.

Employee Social Sharing

The value of employee social sharing isn’t just the social proof that a few extra likes or comments garners. It’s the connection to your employee’s connections.

How many times have you eaten at a restaurant or gone to a store because of a recommendation or tie to someone you know? A lot.

That’s the premise of “weak-tie” theory. Weak-tie connections are a phenomenal resource for businesses, PR practitioners or individuals. Our strength is in our (extended) network.

If you buy into the premise (and I hope you do), then I want to share some ideas of how social sharing through your employees can easily happen using the IFTTT (if-this-then-that) trigger-action tool. It’s one of the most powerful tools you can use to amplify your social media presence – and it’s free!

Two notes about working with these IFTTT recipes:

  • I use email as an example throughout this post, but you could easily send a message through Yammer, Chatter, text message, phone call, or almost anything…. (though there’s evidence that email may be most reliable).
  • You’ll need to change the RSS feed to your corporate RSS feed and change the email verbiage to suit your tastes.

Facebook

There are three ways you can automate Facebook with IFTTT. You can send an automatically generated email when you post new content to your blog, or when you post to Facebook. You can also autoshare Facebook content (be cautious of this depending upon the frequency of your posts).

Twitter

Because of the nature of Twitter (you can send 1,000 tweets every day), I think it’s completely reasonable to ask people to autoshare content (for instance I do this with Spin Sucks because of the consistent quality of the content).

Here are two recipes to autoshare content either immediately after it hits the RSS feed, or at a prescribed time with BufferApp. (You could easily do both.)

  • Send automatic tweets whenever a new post is published on your blog (RSS feed triggers tweet)
  • Queue tweets in Buffer whenever a new post is published on your blog (RSS feed triggers BufferApp queued tweet)

Google+

Google+ isn’t integrated with IFTTT specifically, but it has an HTML share screen you can easily refer people to. As is the case with Pinterest, the lack of automation options doesn’t make G+ any less important.

LinkedIn

The options for mobilizing employees on LinkedIn are quite similar to the options for Facebook. Frequent post updates are generally frowned upon, so it makes sense to be judicious about this one if you’re posting frequently.

That said, some of your most valuable weak-tie connections may be business connections on LinkedIn.

Pinterest

Like Google+, Pinterest doesn’t have direct integration with IFTTT, but it is a very important channel especially for retailers. This recipe sends an email with an easily clickable link to “Pin” the featured photo of a post.

I hope this shows you how your employees could help to perpetuate your social media initiatives with the help of automation tools such as IFTTT (also check out Zapier, which is free for five actions, and has more enterprise-level integration).

Everyone has participated in a program where there was employee buy-in versus a program without. Working without buy-in is demoralizing and oftentimes fruitless, which coincidentally also describes many social media initiatives.

If you see the value of social media as a team initiative (or you come to see it), I hope this gives you an idea of how to integrate it easily.

About Jim Dougherty


Jim Dougherty is a sleep-deprived eclectic representing Cincinnati (via his hometown of Seattle). He writes about how small businesses can use social media and technology at Leaders West, an online digital marketing journal.

21 comments
Marketing Gal
Marketing Gal

Great idea, especially if you work in a creative industry. The more you and your co-workers share the more eyes you have on your company. Keep it interesting and draw them in =)

dbvickery
dbvickery

I keep saying I'm going to take IFTTT for a spin, and I never get around to it. Several folks have definitely been singing its praises.

I know I'd like to see more employee sharing...with them truly believing in the content they are sharing. That is one reason why we are working towards a corporate blogging strategy because they are investing in those peer relationships as they share each other's content.

samfiorella
samfiorella

Normally, I'd be going off on you here Jim for suggesting automation in customer engagement. Yet, if you're going to use it, this is a good way to do so. 

However, I do have to tell you that when I've run such campaigns/strategies for companies I've been engaged with, the results, well, sucked. (Gini - see what I did there?!)   They were successful at spreading 'the word' around their brand through their employees and other stakeholders but failed to effect the business' bottom line. To be honest, they might very well have, but no one could tell. 

What we learned really fast was that sharing through a larger channel wasn't enough. There had to be a content strategy and, more importantly, a benchmark and tracking/measurement strategy in place before the effort began.  Your strategy can be effective, but only if part of a larger one that ties the efforts into measurable customer life time value. 

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I like your automation ideas Jim. 

Here is the problem. Everyone uses social media for themselves and it is usually the strong ties which cause action. And a job often is not a strong tie. A career is different. But 90% of us have jobs. You can't get people in jobs who on average make no money to act on behalf of the company or coworkers. It is a weak tie in my opinion. You can create a strong tie as a business owner/management but those companies pay much above average and have perks. I have some examples I need to blog about with your inspiration.

But your automation could increase participation for sure.

Latest blog post: Email Marketing is not Dead

Suze Carragher
Suze Carragher

You're absolutely correct!! No excuses on Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest.

Arment Dietrich, Inc.
Arment Dietrich, Inc.

I get Facebook, but what about all of the other social networks?! We tell clients this all the time - get your employees to participate! It works! ^yp

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

Jim, after I read this this morning (I get a sneak peak), I told my entire team to make sure they read it, absorbed it, and implemented it. We struggle with our clients not sharing their own content and it makes us nuts. But this is a BRILLIANT solution! I could kiss you for it!

Suze Carragher
Suze Carragher

The challenge is when folks want to keep FB profiles private. I understand the thinking, though.

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

LOVE this line: "Therein lies a huge issue: You have a dozen co-workers who aren’t engaging with your posts." So true!!! 

Love your ideas on how to integrate - definitely going to try this and share it with clients.

KevinVandever
KevinVandever

I'm just starting to mess with IFTTT. I recently purchased the Hue lighting system (way cool wireless lighting system, by the way) and have used IFTTT to set the lighting in my house based on social events. Pretty fun...not yet very practical, but I'll get to the practical part soon enough.

Great tips. Thanks Jim. 

leaderswest
leaderswest

@samfiorella Thanks Sam - I hope I didn't imply that automation like this is a strategy. It's simply a tactic to increase awareness for social media campaigns. I certainly don't think that implementing any of these in isolation would be especially helpful. :)

leaderswest
leaderswest

@Howie Goldfarb Thanks, Howie. I suppose it depends, I've worked places that this would work and some that wouldn't. I expect it has a lot to do with the amount of ownership employees felt for the company's success. I also think that employees should have a stake in content creation, so I think there are things that can be done to increase the "ties" (incidentally. strong versus weak ties are determined as a measure of time spent together). Appreciate your insight.

leaderswest
leaderswest

@ginidietrichThanks Gini - that's very kind of you to say and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to Spin Sucks!

leaderswest
leaderswest

@Suze Carragher Thanks Suze, I think an ownership mentality is key. You can't force anyone to share your stuff, but if they feel that they have a vested interest in your success, and the content reflects well on them I think it's a reasonable proposition to ask for shares. @maerskline is an example of a business that has done an extraordinary job on-boarding a very large organization and affiliated network.

leaderswest
leaderswest

@KevinVandever You're kidding - IFTTT for lights? That's awesome. When IFTTT first came out I knew there was possibility there but resisted digging into it for a long time, and finally just did it. I worry about how they'll monetize the tool in the future, but for now I just continue to integrate. I'm going to have to check out those lights! 

leaderswest
leaderswest

@samfiorella I'm flexible either way, but Chicago to Toronto = 7 hours 53 mins (not counting border security), Chicago to Cinci = 4 hours 33 mins, so maybe we could compromise for the sake of @ginidietrich's convenience and I could act as your proxy? 

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