Everywhere I turn (at least in meeting rooms), I hear the words “Employee” and “Social” mentioned together. Companies are keen to get their employees “active” and “influencing” on social media but I’m not always convinced they completely understand what it means, or if they are really prepared for what it actually entails. Not enough businesses are doing ‘social employees’I don’t want to scare you off now, but socially empowering your employees is a risk. The risk however, is mitigated significantly with the right organisational culture, tools and policies.This is something I’ve been saying now for more years than I care to remember; employees are your best brand advocates, and not enough companies are involving them in their own social media campaigns and activities.Not only can you extend the reach of your brand on social media, but bringing employees on board when it comes to social media creates influencers, and influencers are very important! In an era where social media is creating huge opportunities for the enterprise, it makes sense that your employees are included in your efforts in this channel.The difference between “active” and “influencing”I know many people who are extremely active on social media, both personally (which I won’t discuss!) and professionally. They tweet a lot, generate tons of updates on LinkedIn, etc. But are they socially influential?What’s the difference? Simply put, content. The quality, quantity and variety of content are important factors in how influential you and your employees are. Any one or two of those factors combined only makes them active. All of those factors working together create influence.So how do you create a socially active community of influential employees, whilst maintaining compliance and controlling brand messages? The answer is simple; the right employees, the right platform, the right controls.How do you make this work? 1. Policies and GuidelinesTo create a thriving, but compliant employee social programme, you need to put in place corporate social media policies and guidelines for your employees. Policies define the behaviour, and guidelines explain how that behaviour is used in practice.Your social media policies should clearly outline your company’s, and employee’s responsibilities for social media engagement. It should encourage employees to be involved in social media and explain behaviours which are acceptable on social media, and behaviours which are not.Your social media posting/ engagement guidelines should be more employee-specific, and geared towards particular groups of employees, either by market, business unit, job role or a combination of all of these factors. It needs to outline who can post what, where and how.2. ContentAs you have probably already heard (from many other industry sources), you need to invest in content. I won’t expand on this too long but one crucial thing: you need content that adds value to the food chain, content that makes your employees become ‘influencers’. So, it’s not all about product news. You have to source industry news-type content, thought-leadership pieces, i.e. content that will attract those people and businesses you are interested in.Mixing this high-value content with more product or brand related news is what will keep your employees engaged and become more ‘influential.’3. Content distributionYou could just put a few messages and posts on the intranet and ask your employees to self-serve. This won’t work… it takes too much time and such an approach is not targeted enough – not all your employees want the same content.Instead, I would suggest (I admit I am biased) that you invest in a content syndication amplification platform for your employees and max-out distribution, and do it smartly at the same time. After all, if you’re distributing content across different regions in different languages, or to different types of employees selling or being involved in different verticals/ sectors, then you need to find a robust and global solution do this complex targeting, in a meaningful, but importantly, simple (for the employees) way.ConclusionGetting employees socially engaged on behalf on their companies isn’t a new trend. It’s something which leading brands have been doing since social media was invented.It’s something you HAVE to do and do SOON. Your competitors are likely to have started…The journey to make this happen won’t be easy but the steps to take are clear and the outcome HUGE.