OREANDA-NEWS. February 23, 2016. Ill kick off with a bold statement: Employees are a companys greatest asset. Especially in B2B marketing, a companys passionate employees can help spread brand awareness above and beyond just about any lead generation tactic you can devise.

But how do marketing teams get the rest of the employees to become impassioned marketers themselves? A good way to start is by getting them active on your social media outlets.

Through social media marketing, a companys employees can leverage peer connections to spread knowledge of the brand in an organic fashion. Not only do employees already have 10x more followers than the brand they work for, brand messages reach a whopping 561% further when shared by employees on social than when theyre shared via official company social channels. That means any marketer whos not getting company employees on board with social, is missing huge opportunities for spreading brand awareness and bringing in new leads.

Here are 10 tips for getting your employees set up and ready for powerful brand advocacy through social media.

1. Segment your employees

Before you can effectively slate employees to distribute specific social posts, you have to know which ones are best suited to particular marketing objectives. And the way you figure this out is by segmenting all employees from the get-go.

Much like you would conduct a market segmentation for your prospective customers, youll want to consider the strengths, background and expertise of each employee and categorize them in ways that make sense for your company. You might segment by department, product, job title, and any other helpful descriptor. Then youll be able to customize social media marketing collateral to the specific spheres of influence represented by your companys employees.  

2. Create a supportive culture

Before company employees can be superstars for your lead generation, youll have to have the right atmosphere in place.  

In 2007, Towers Perrin found that companies with the highest employee engagement, had a 19% increase in operating income and a nearly 28% growth in earnings per share. To reap benefits like those via employee social media advocacy, marketers should advocate and help implement a corporate culture where employees feel free to express themselves and share opinions constructively, both online and off. One idea is to survey all employees about their feelings about the present culture and what changes might be beneficial.

Depending on the company and industry, this may take some time to fully realize. But, once employees at every level know that they can talk about their concerns and ideas, theyll be primed to speak positively on behalf of the brand.   

3. Encourage sharing and interactivity

Once an open, supportive culture is in place and all employees have a strong voice, marketers should actively encourage sharing online.

Whether its pictures of themselves at the office, relevant and interesting videos about one of your companys products or services, or posts about 5 things I love about my company, jumpstart employee advocacy by getting staff to start sharing with each other via social for a brief period of time (perhaps a few weeks to a month or two). Then, submit all posts to an editorial review.  

Afterward, youll be able to refine your employee segmentation and see which employees are ready to go for brand social advocacy tasks, and which ones might need a little more of a push in the right direction.

4. Make them partners

Employees will be less likely to help in marketing if they dont see themselves as an invaluable part of the team. Marketers should empower employees to see beyond their job titles and assume the identity of brand ambassadors.  

You might create special content just to explain this to employees, as well as lead meetings, provide outings, and ask employees how they can feel more integrated into the company culture and brand identity. But if you explicitly let them know theyre spokespersons for the brand, the ones who already hold the company in high regard are likely to start acting accordingly.

5. Ensure ease of access to content

If your employees cant access the content you want them to share, it simply wont happen. Make it easy for them to get to the content you have ready for them to distribute.  

A good social media management platform, will make this easy for you to do. By giving your employees access to a social board, theyll be able to see relevant, pre-approved, social posts that they can immediately share with their own social profiles.

6. Ensure relevance of content to each employee segment

Youll want to make sure that your employees, by sharing content, are becoming thought leaders. To do this, make sure every social post they share is relevant to them.

Marketers should create multiple boards, and segment employee based on location, language, department, product, and whatever other segment makes sense. This way, marketers eliminate confusion, and every company department can see its own social media collateral without sifting through irrelevant material. Youll also have perfect clarity on which social media messages should be distributed by the appropriate employee segment.

7. Incentivize employee advocacy with rewards

After doing all of the above, youll have employees who are actively sharing your brands social content, spreading the word about your company to a new and bigger audience, and possibly even generating lots of leads.  But how do you keep it going? By incentivizing advocacy.  

If you reward the most active employee advocates with prizes and bonuses, youre giving them just a few more reasons to keep up the good work. Promoting the top performers in this way might even jumpstart the desires of the less socially-involved employees to jump on board.

8. Create an advocacy leaderboard

Finally, youll want to give employees a visual statement that recognizes the highest-performing social brand advocates.  Gamifying advocacy by having a prominently-displayed leaderboard can promote friendly competition among work colleagues, as well as inspire the less-active employee advocates to get more involved.

Employee advocacy is the word-of-mouth of digital marketing, and marketers need to harness this power to the full advantage of their brands. Getting employees to partner with you for marketing purposes comes with benefits no company should go without!