How To Nurture "Dark Social" Employees into Expert Thought Leaders

How Much Content Do You Share on Your Personal Social Networks?

Really think about it.

How much of that content is related to your industry or your job? Do you ever share branded content? Do you curate industry news? Do you invest in your own personal brand and thought leadership?

Let’s face it – most people don’t.

Now let’s compare this. How much content do you consume on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis? How much of that content do you send to someone via email, text, or IM? A lot more, right?

There’s a well established 1-9-90 Internet rule which states of any Web site users, there’s only about 1% of them that actively create content, while 9% interact (comment, like, retweet, etc.), and 90% consume or share privately.

1-9-90 rule of social media content sharing

90% CONSUME! Meaning they’re quiet – zip, nada, don’t share, SHHHHH… Wowza!

This is the dark social component of the Internet. People click on links, then text it, email it, or IM it to peers, which makes it hard to track and keeps the interaction private.

By keeping things private, as an employee, you’re not building your public personal brand and thought leadership, thus limiting your social selling funnel. As an organization, you want employees to share publicly to increase overall brand health.

This 1-9-90 rule means there’s a lot of untapped network that could be valuable to your organization through employee connections.

So why aren’t more employees sharing content?

Making Employees Comfortable Using Social Media at Work

The biggest barrier to employees sharing on social networks is that they really don’t know what to share. They don’t know what to say, and they’re not sure what they’re ALLOWED to share.

This makes it really difficult for people to participate and interact online. Everyone knows that curating and sharing content can build up a personal brand and develop thought leadership. But most people don’t know how to do it properly, in a way that’s favorable toward their company.

Establishing a Clear Social Media Policy Helps Employees Share

One way to get employees to share more is to blatantly tell them to.

Your organization should have a clear social media policy or guideline in place that’s designed for employees to share and interact on social media. If you make it a part of the company, employees will know that you’re encouraging social media communications.

One thing to remember with social media policies is to make sure you’re empowering employees. You don’t want the policy to be so strict and full of lawyer jargon that it will discourage them to participate.

A social media policy is meant to protect your company, your employees, and your customers.

But how do you get employees to adopt social sharing at work?

Shift to a Culture of Content

Altimeter Group refers to the “Culture of Content” as the increase in adoption and participation in content marketing across non-marketing divisions.

By breaking down the content silos and encouraging non-marketing employees to consume and share content, you’re changing the landscape of your business. You’re enabling your business to become social, and you’re shifting to the digital age.

The best way to get all of your employees to want to start using social media and content at work is to show them the metrics. But not just the sales and leads metrics. There’s much more that you can show.

There’s a great quote from Altimeter Group’s Content Marketing Performance Report:

“But measuring only for sales and leads – or simply relying on volume or vanity metrics such as “likes” and “views” that contain little innate business value or meaning – undermines and devalues investments in time, media, employees, technology, and vendor relationships.”

They took the words right out of my mouth. By showing the real business value of content marketing and social media outside of just sales and leads, it will be a lot easier to get all employees on board with sharing content at work.

Ok, great. But why should your employees do this, right?

Why the 90% Should Build Thought Leadership

Even after trying to make employees comfortable sharing by establishing a social media policy and showing them metrics to try and shift to a culture of content, there still might be some shy folks that won’t participate, because they don’t know why they should.

Here are a few stats:

  • 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media (Source: MSLGroup)
  • Sales reps using social media as part of their sales techniques outsell 78% of their peers (Source: Forbes)
  • 72.6% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often (Source: Aberdeen Group)
  • B2B buyers complete 57% of the buying decision before they are willing to talk to a sales rep (Source: CEB)

That last one is really important.

Sharing content to your networks is a great way to build a personal brand, which leads to thought leadership and real connections. In today’s social selling era, buyers are educated and know a lot about you and your business before even contacting you. So by sharing strategic content to your networks, you’re helping your prospects buy instead of just trying to sell to them.

Ok, but all of this sounds really hard to implement. What do I need in place?

How to Make It All Happen

Ok, so now your employees are all ready to start sharing. You’ve made them comfortable with a policy, and you’ve shown them stats that will encourage them to build connections. But how do you empower all of your teams to do this at scale? How do you get visibility into what’s shared? How do you make it simple for employees to share content?

  • Processes and infrastructure: It’s important to have processes in place from the start that will enable a content team to make content accessible internally for employees to share. Who’s on the team? Do you have representation from each department? Who creates content for employees to share? Who curates content for your team? Where is the content stored? How are you measuring content consumption? Sharing? Interactions? These are all questions to ask yourself when trying to get quiet employees to share.
  • Content library: Since one of the biggest reasons employees don’t share content for work on their personal networks is because they don’t know what to share. Creating a centralized content library will get rid of the road blocks behind this. Creating a content library with suggested and pre-approved content makes employees a lot more comfortable.
  • Training and coaching: It’s important to encourage your employees but also give them knowledge. Training, coaching, guides, webinars, etc., will help make employees more comfortable and raise their confidence for using social media.
  • Easy-to-use sharing tools: Going to each major social network (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook) separately to manually publish content is time consuming and difficult, which means employees won’t do it. But, by giving employees content sharing tools that make it easy to either schedule content or one-click share to each major social network will make employee adoption of social media and content a lot easier.

Invest in Your Employees’ Professional Development

Your employees are smart and want to be better at their jobs. As an organization, investing in their personal brand and thought leadership will help with generating leads, learning new skills, employee engagement, and overall brand health.

You need to provide them with the knowledge and the tools. It’s time to invest in your people.


At PostBeyond, we deliver a cloud-based employee engagement & advocacy solution that enables employees and partners to post approved brand content to their personal networks in an efficient, consistent, and measurable way. We’re dedicated to solving problems in communications. Our passion for people and business communications turned into a software company with dozens of clients and thousands of users. Click here for more information.

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