It’s not every day that we can look to Baby Boomers to provide a road map for employee advocacy ‘best practice’ on social media networks. On the contrary; one would expect that digital savvy is a natural attribute unique to Generations Y or Z.
In a world where few C-Suite executives are active on social media, and where companies have strict guidelines that govern online activities, often employees have neither the leadership, nor the leeway, to advocate for their employers on social media networks, even if they wanted to.
In this context, my own mother’s willingness and ability to champion her employer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is nothing short of remarkable. Beyond having an active profile on multiple social media networks, Madeleine, my mum, delivers the kind of employee advocacy that most companies only dream about.
And while I have given her encouragement and insights along the way, the energy and effort my mother displays across social channels — and the passion and purpose she brings to work with her every day — are entirely her own.
My mum is a Toronto-based Purser (the in-charge flight attendant) at Porter Airlines and she is exceptionally good at her job. I know this because I often read the positive feedback written by passengers who send accolades about her service in one form or another. Sometimes, they take to social media to compliment her service, as this passenger did in June.
It is not surprising that in October, my mother is the subject of the “Employee Day-In-The-Life” feature column of Porter’s in-flight magazine, re:porter.
But it’s on social media where my mother truly stands out. She’s not just exceptional relative to her demographic group; she demonstrates greater digital savvy than many who belong to a generation or two younger, blending the wisdom that comes from experience with modern day communication tools.
Here are the highlights of what my mum can teach about employee advocacy on social media networks:
1. Share everyday images.
Whether it’s a photograph of the sunrise or the skylines of the cities she flies to, images help to convey a professional story in a way that words can’t. In addition, posts with images enjoy higher levels of engagement than those without them. My mother often tags Porter Airlines or Billy Bishop Airport so that these organizations can engage in her posts too.
2. Demonstrate collegiality.
My mother is a team player. So much of her social media content centres on her colleagues and their teamwork. One of my favourite posts she has shared is about the Porter Airlines baggage handlers who work hard behind the scenes.
3. Champion your brand.
Even when not on the job, my mother celebrates the Porter Airlines brand on social channels. On the golf course one day, she spotted a raccoon golf club cover and immediately made the connection to the Porter raccoon, Mr. Porter, and of course, tweeted about her company mascot:
4. Build relationships.
Not only has my mother become an advocate for Porter Airlines on social media, but for many of her favourite passengers too. She regularly retweets Toronto physician Doctor Michael Evans (@docmikeevans), a passenger she had on board on one occasion, whose patient-centric and highly creative content helps educate people on how they can live healthier lives.
5. Do a little each day.
Whether it’s a retweet of your employer’s content, or a story of your employer in the news, take a few minutes every day to engage and share. Every interaction on social media is a transparent demonstration of your commitment to sharing your company’s message. Every retweet, share, like, or comment amplifies your employer’s message to new audiences, and helps the marketing efforts of your company’s social media team. And when your employer is successful, everybody wins.
Like so many things that my mother brings to her job, using social media to share her love of flying is not in her job description. And although, in the event that we go astray, we could all be one post away from discipline at work, those of us who exercise good judgment and common sense tend to view social media advocacy as an extension of what it means to do our jobs exceptionally well. We simply see it as a collaborative space to tell our professional stories and build our executive brands. My mother views her social media activity as yet another forum to convey Porter Airlines’ tagline, “flying refined.”
My mum loves working at Porter. And because she shares this passion on social media networks — for flying itself, for the passengers she serves, for her colleagues and for the destinations she visits — everyone who is part of her online network lives vicariously through her. One can’t help but understand that Porter Airlines has earned my mother’s respect and admiration as her employer, and that every day she comes to work, she’s having the time of her life.
Hilary Carter is a digital leadership consultant and the founder of InTune Communications, a strategic communications firm that helps companies and individuals amplify their messages and build their brands on social media networks.