A successful business without a social media presence is almost unheard of. Restaurants like you can utilize social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram, to get the word out about their company and make powerful connections. Growing your social media platforms can be hard, especially when developing a new business, but it is a necessary part of keeping your restaurant afloat in this competitive industry. One unconventional way to boost your digital presence is employee social media advocacy.

Social media advocacy is essentially when your employees willingly use their social media to share information about your restaurant. Brand announcements and posts gain 561% more reach when shared by an employee rather than a company’s social media page. That’s a testament to the power of this clever digital marketing strategy. It is extremely common for an employee to have more followers on say, Instagram, than his or her employer’s business. When building your business’s brand online, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the fact that your employees are creating a brand for themselves too. Similar to how social media scrollers would follow a company’s page because of its appeal or theme, they follow people for the unique content they post. A restaurant may gain a large social media presence because they post pictures of a specialty dish, like their signature cheeseburger. This is no different than following a person for their signature content – whether it’s their style, art, inspirational quotes, or just some seriously perfect selfies. 

By training your employees to be social media advocates you can help spread the word about your business through voices who have curated their own personal brand. Even better, encouraging them to use their platform to express themselves outside of work promotes a positive work-life balance, leading to better employee retention. 

Let’s get one thing straight – social media advocacy is not telling your employees to post your restaurant’s latest happy hour special on their twitter pages. To successfully empower your employees through social media advocacy, providing them with social training and encouraging them to post freely about your brand and theirs is key. By engaging with your employees on social media about company content as well as their individualistic content, you are giving the message that personal brands are just as valid as your establishment’s. By doing so, employees are more likely to post about work in addition to their personal lives. This is the true meaning of employee advocacy – a mutual benefit to both the employer and employee.    

The best place to start with social training is by providing education. Not every employee is going to be users of the hottest new social media platform, and that’s perfectly fine. Sitting down and chatting with your staff about what social platforms they use and how to utilize them for your business is a great way to get the discussion going. It’s likely that one of your employees knows a whole lot about making a name for themselves on social media, and can help do the same for your brand, too. Just like the two-way street with your employees regarding creativity, the same applies when teaching them new social media skills and allowing them to educate you as well. 

By empowering your employees in and outside the office, they’ll be more than willing to advocate for your company. They are the power behind the brand after all, and if they don’t believe in it, who will? Every individual has a network of their own, and when you recruit them as representatives of your company, there’s no limit to how far your message will reach. For information on the basics of social media (like instructions for interacting with accounts), stay tuned for the release of Bikelane’s social media ebook.