How to Inspire Employee Social Business Participation

At the onset of a social advocacy program, employee participation in social media is largely a function of employees opting into the experience.

Employers can provide social skills training, work to develop their employees’ social judgment, and encourage a change in the way the employees engage in social media channels. Still, the employee must intrinsically find value in engaging socially in order to adopt sustained and repeated social engagement behaviors.

Further still, employees who become socially engaged will need to be inspired and encouraged to advocate for and influence others on behalf of the brand with which they are professionally affiliated.

Extrinsic motivation occurs when we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity in order to earn a reward or avoid a punishment.

Intrinsic motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding; essentially, performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward (


Leadership by example is the best form of influencing a change in employee behavior. Asking employees to “Do as I do” and leading the way is important to drive a desired behavior in employees. Given that many executives harbor the same trepidation as employees in learning social skills, a humble acknowledgement and sharing of shortcomings along the path to social savviness can well serve the executive-employee relationship and spur personnel to take the next step.


There are many ways to incentivize social behaviors without resorting to financial or expense-based incentives. Establishing leader boards to foster competition is one mechanism to structure a friendly challenge among employees. Organizations can also leverage analytics that are built into platforms. For example, LinkedIn has built in benchmark rankings and metrics that compare you to your network connections.

Check your Social Selling Index by logging into LinkedIn and then going to

Recognition & Rewards

Employee recognition or acknowledgement of social engagement successes in a team or company forum goes a long way. Praise and genuine appreciation are little things that can provide a large return, much like the old expression, “A cup of sugar and a kind word.”

Practical Insights

  • Encourage all employees at your company to connect with, follow and include their team and relationships across the organization on channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • Set up a Social Business Leader Board to recognize those socially engaged employees who go above and beyond the basics.

  • Obsess about creating a culture built upon a spirit of healthy rivalry.

  • Set up benchmarks, systems of measurement and metrics that are reasonable, measurable and achievable for all social activities (from training to content creation to social technology and time investments).