Employee volunteer program engagement is a common problem in the workplace. Is it because of the opportunities or lack of communication? Lets dive in to discuss some common questions about using social media to support volunteerism.
IF WE USE SOCIAL MEDIA, THEY’LL BE ON IT AT WORK ALL DAY
NOT TRUE. A common reality is that if it’s frowned upon or not, many of your employees monitor their social media accounts throughout the workday. That’s okay – for the most part.
Depending on your workplace demographics, a majority of them have at the very least, a Facebook account. Meet your employees where they are. Use social media as the 21st century bulletin board.
If you do not have a workplace intranet, set up a private Facebook group where employees:
a.) Don’t have to be ‘friends’ to communicate with each other.
b.) Managers and employees can easily share potluck info, volunteer opportunities, important work information, policy changes, etc.
c.) This alleviates all of those REPLY ALL emails you receive.
WHY DOES IT MATTER THAT MY EMPLOYEES SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
a.) It’s THEIR story (people want employee stories not crafted press releases)
b.) Using social media creates a more effective program – increased participation rates, exposure to different cultures
c.) It leverages social capital
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA OUTLETS SHOULD MY COMPANY USE WHEN VOLUNTEERING?
Beyond doing good for your community, encouraging your employees to volunteer throughout the community improves your brand identity as well.
Look at Exxon Mobile after the terrible oil spill a few years back. They’ve been trying to reshape their brand image by engaging in the effected communities, volunteering, and giving back.
Sure, not all of the companies who have volunteer programs are trying to bandage a bad brand identity, but regardless, companies need to use specific outlets to promote their corporate volunteerism. By choosing the right outlets, your company will get noticed via traditional media more and your brand’s SEBI (search engine brand identity) will increase when prospective employees or customers Google you.
Uses for specific social media outlets:
a.) Blogs can be a destination for other social media posts
b.) Facebook is convenient for announcements
c.) LinkedIn group discussions are also useful. Does your company have a LinkedIn page? They should.
d.) Twitter is a perfect outlet for reminders and sharing experiences through hashtags.
e.) YouTube videos are powerful tools for recruiting and promotion. Did you know that YouTube is also the #2 search engine on the WWW?
f.) Leverage these social media networks to tap new volunteers / potential employees
SOCIAL MEDIA MAKES VOLUNTEERING WITH COWORKERS EVEN MORE FUN
Organize contests to get your employees involved. Offer prizes. Consider a catchy name for your EVP.
Let your employees compete in an annual or biannual volunteer hour challenge. Honor the winners publicly on social media and you will increase likability, brand recognition, and engage more employees to get involved.
Maybe you don’t want your employees to be BFF (best friends forever) but getting them out of the office and engaged in hands-on activities increases their relationships exponentially.
MY EMPLOYEES DON’T LIKE TO GET DIRTY
With the new trend toward skills-based volunteering, the volunteer opportunities don’t necessarily have to be building a Habitat House or a citywide cleanup. The more you can target your employees with volunteer events based on their interests and they will feel more prepared when they volunteer.
What does social media have to do with this? Give them a choice. Employees like to be given a choice of opportunities. Let a volunteer hub (Volunteer Mid-South if in Memphis) provide you with multiple facets of civic engagement and ask employees via social media what they’d like to do.
WHAT DO MY EMPLOYEES DO AFTER VOLUNTEERING?
Encourage your employees to engage immediately or up to a few days after volunteering:
a.) Let employees blog about their experience on the company’s workplace blog
b.) The Facebook group platform can host polls and solicit opinions and feedback
c.) Request volunteers ‘live-experience’ the opportunity by snapping images and creating content on their personal social media accounts for others to see that your company gives back.
4 C’S OF SOCIAL MEDIA’S ROLE IN VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
a.) Communicate – share the various volunteer opportunities to your staff.
b.) Coordinate – create teams based on volunteer interests or departments. Make it FUN.
c.) Celebrate – celebrate your employees that take part in employee volunteer programs.
d.) Connect – beyond the experience, have them write blog posts, live share the experience, take photos, create videos, etc. LET YOUR EMPLOYEES GET CREATIVE.
e.) Curate - take the content that the employees create (i.e. photos, blog posts, videos, surveys, etc.) and use it in conjunction with your current social media posts. Your customers will love to see what your employees do to help the community.
HOW DO WE GET OUR EMPLOYEES TO CARE ABOUT OUR VALUES THROUGH VOLUNTEERISM?
We need to take off the employees’ analytical hats. Having your company show how their ideas are associated with things other employees already care about increases their values ownership within the company.
And most importantly, appeal to their self-identities. Not only to the person you hired in the beginning but who they would like to be. Gaining brand trust transcends the customers. It matters to the employees too.
The awesome and talented students and staff at Harding Academy were inspired by Pharrell's "Happy" video and wanted to make a video about being Happy in Memphis. Some people choose to complain about Memphis, but they think it's pretty awesome and I do too. Props to this awesome production.
Watch it and then share it with friends, family, and coworkers.