By Russ Fradin
Nearly all retailers announce promotions on Facebook and post stunning photos on Instagram to lure customers into their stores. But few savvy retailers are tapping into one powerful social force that can drive real sales and exposure: employees.
Rallying employees around your store can inspire them to spread the word via social media. And when they display genuine excitement about your store and products, they become natural magnets within their networks.
For example, employees could announce your store’s new product line and promote it with a video series demoing the items to generate exposure, stir questions, and entice their friends and connections to visit the store for more details. Employees can also post personal product reviews or engage in online conversations, showcasing their expertise and positioning themselves as helpful in-store resources.
Emitting strong social signals will also boost your SEO. And when prospects can more easily find your website, they’ll have another reason to visit your store.
But employees can’t become authentic brand advocates without truly loving your store and products. Less than half of Canadian employees are satisfied with internal communication, so retailers need to take serious measures to generate excitement among employees and empower internal social media advocates.
Ignite Your Social Media Activists
Although the advantages of employee pride are clear, retailers simply aren’t taking steps to instill pride in their employees and encourage them to share on social media. In fact, 88 percent of employees have at least one social media account, but only 33 percent post about their jobs.
Work consumes so much of employees’ days, so why aren’t more posting about it?
In the retail setting, employees are often afraid of saying the wrong thing. Even when their comments are positive, they fear going against corporate language and getting in trouble for it. In other cases, they may not know what to say. It’s hard to craft a “shareworthy” social media post, and amid the retail frenzy, it can easily fall by the wayside.
Boosting employee engagement and social media usage may be the strategy you need to remain relevant in the omnichannel retail world. Here are four ways get employees excited to post about your retail store:
1. Make their jobs enjoyable. Instilling pride in employees is the key to a happier workforce and social media advocates, and it starts with culture. Steer your culture in a way that makes employees want to work harder and smarter. Offer appealing perks, and treat employees like the intelligent, capable adults they are. You’ll be amazed at the initiative they start to take.
O2, the third largest telecommunications provider in Europe and one of our clients, has taken this route by launching an employee-powered marketing program. O2 rewards and recognizes active employees with concert tickets and other perks to encourage participation. The company has seen great success — more than 1,000 employees got involved in just the first six months.
Another example is Montreal-based GSoft, which conducts weekly staff surveys to gauge happiness levels, uncover employee frustrations, and maintain open communication as it grows.
2. Refine your company’s messaging approach. Honest and genuine messaging will resonate most with employees, especially if you’re attempting to engage them as advocates. They won’t be interested in sharing stale, canned content they don’t really believe in. Instead, create content that’s personal, targeted, and focused on their level of expertise and department to ensure maximum participation.
3. Showcase great work internally and externally. Recognizing a job well done will boost morale and help lagging employees know what to shoot for.
Encourage employees to write reviews of products they love or interact with customers instead of just pushing sales. When they do this, spread the word via the company’s social media accounts, feature their original content, or simply give them a shout-out in internal emails. Recognize them for going above and beyond, and you’ll lift everyone up.
4. Gamify the process. Try introducing contests and prizes to stir up competition among co-workers. Keep it light, and encourage creativity and authenticity first and foremost.
Employee engagement and company pride will ultimately influence your staff’s social media participation. Create an in-store environment that promotes creativity, and don’t be afraid to let your employees have a little fun. Forward-thinking, culture-focused companies are the ones that will breed advocacy and win the most sales in the end.
Russ Fradin is a digital media industry veteran and an angel investor with more than 15 years of experience in online marketing. He is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal, the leading platform for empowering employees to be effective brand advocates. Learn more here.