Fostering Employee Branding
on Social Media
We identified several factors that stand in the way of
employee branding behaviors on social media. First,
at the organizations we studied, there was often a
lack of understanding among employees of the orga-
nization’s social media strategy; many employees
were even ignorant of their employers’ social media
activity. Second, employees were insufficiently aware
of the importance of their role on social media. Most
employees didn’t know what was expected from
them; one employee out of three could not say
whether their company had a social media policy
establishing do’s and don’ts for them on social
media. Third, there was discomfort around using
social media in professional settings. This factor was
more pronounced among senior employees (both in
terms of age and position within the organization)
and among employees who maintained a strict sepa-
ration between their private and professional
spheres. Based on these and other factors, we were
able to develop a set of five best practices and
recommendations for encouraging effective em-
ployee branding on social media.
1. Empower a stable of employee advocates.
Certain groups are more conscious than others of
the importance of endorsing their employer’s
brand on social media. While young and senior
employees alike have embraced social media in
their personal communications to some degree,
those who were born in the era of the internet —
so-called “digital natives” — tend to be more active.
Compared with Generation Xers or baby boomers,
they typically maintain less separation between
professional and personal information. 11 They are
also more accustomed to voicing approval and disapproval on social media. Accordingly, young
adults are more likely to become brand ambassadors for the company on social media. However, we
found that an employee’s age does not necessarily
dictate the role he or she plays in promoting a
brand on social media. As long as employees understand the role they can play on social media and
how to engage with it, brand-building behaviors
ASSESSING EMPLOYEE BRANDING BEHAVIORS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Companies can map the extent of employee engagement on social media with their employer brand across
four dimensions. Top management likely expects employees to be engaging in all 14 items across the four
dimensions below. The reality, however, is probably different; in the companies we studied, the vast majority
of employees engaged in fewer than seven of the 14 behaviors.
WORD OF MOU TH
1. I speak (positively) about my employer brand on social media.
2. I praise the achievements of my employer brand on social media.
3. When I have a criticism about my employer, I refrain from sharing it online.
4. I do not post comments about my employer online that I might regret later.
5. I am a fan/I follow my employer brand on social media.
6. I recommend my employer brand products and services to my contacts
on social media.
7. I recommend my company to potential job candidates.
8. I respond (constructively) when my contacts criticize my employer brand
products or services on social media.
9. I pass along information about my employer brand on social media.
10. I “like” content posted by my employer.
11. I share links to/from the employer brand on social media.
12. I keep in mind that I could harm my employer brand when interacting on
13. I behave on social media in a way that is consistent with my employer
brand values and culture.
14. I communicate on topics related to my employer’s business in a way my
employer would approve of.