LinkedIn has become a valuable resource for executive search professionals. But the advantages of using LinkedIn to benefit your brand go well beyond the job search.

There are many convincing reasons why you’d want your employees to advocate your company on LinkedIn, the business-oriented social network. You might have even ventured on to LinkedIn to find that most of your employees already have an account and list your business as their current employer.

With social media usage up amongst the professional demographics, this scenario would come as no surprise to anyone. You might even find your employees are already connecting with potential clients and customers, and engaging in productive discussions about pertinent issues to your business. Unfortunately, you could also find employees with incorrect information, or promoting services that conflict with your business.

Whether you’re pleasantly surprised at how your employees handle their public profiles online or you feel there’s room for improvement, the question remains the same:

How can I help my employees be brand advocates on LinkedIn?

While you can’t force them, you can make LinkedIn an embedded part of your company culture. Here are some ways to get started:

1. Communicate the importance of brand advocacy
People are drawn to companies whose employees are strong advocates. If a company’s employees are completely engaged in the brand, it reflects positively on an organization. This benefits both the company and the people working for the company. When a company thrives, so do its employees.  Executives can also be powerful influencers on social media and should be encouraged to participate. Make sure they are part of the conversation and encourage them to lead by example.

2. Teach them how
Telling your team to be brand advocates and explaining the importance of it is one thing, but actually teaching them how to do it will make it more likely. Make sure that you discuss the importance of personal and company branding and explain the benefits of both. Topics you may want to discuss include:

  • Sharing company content
  • Publishing on LinkedIn Pulse, blogging
  • Content curation and sharing industry news
  • Mining competitors
  • Networking and prospecting

3. Set a clear social media policy for employees on LinkedIn
If you don’t have a social media policy, you need one immediately. Negative messaging on social media spreads quickly, and inconsistent information on profiles can start rumours. The best way to get control of your corporate image is to engage your employees in a dialogue about social media best practices, while making sure you offer them clear guidelines and policies about social media: like what’s okay to post and topics to avoid.

4. Provide direction to support employee social media efforts
All of your social media training and guidelines will be wasted if it’s too complicated. Employees will either ignore it or not bother with social media at all. To maximize the potential for them becoming brand ambassadors, it’s important to make it easy and give them good content to share.

LinkedIn’s Talent Blog suggests starting by directing employees to follow your company on social media, and when sharing news with them via email, providing pre-written messages and status updates they can easily post.

5. Take charge and face conflict head on
The public nature of social media can a boon or curse for companies, but armed with a little knowledge, your business and employees should flourish on a platform like LinkedIn. By staying proactive and flexible when conflicts do arise, and knowing how to take action when needed, there should be no problem encouraging employees on LinkedIn.

Now that you have the tools to help your employees become brand advocates, it’s important to lead by example starting with your LinkedIn profile. Find out what your LinkedIn profile says about you here.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.