CHICAGO: United Airlines, the air carrier, believes that leveraging employee advocacy can effectively deliver multiple benefits for its brand.

Jamie Rutter, Manager/Digital Engagement & Advocacy Programs at United Airlines, discussed this subject at the Digital Summit Chicago.

More specifically, she reported that major enterprises stand to gain significant payoffs by galvanizing their staff members at every layer of the organization.

“Employees are more believable than your CEO, they are more believable than Facebook ads, they are more believable than magazine stories,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How United Airlines uses social media to inspire employee advocacy.)

In United’s case, it boasts a 90,000-strong headcount – “A little bit of everything and everyone,” Rutter explained – who work in numerous markets across the globe.

“We have so many employees, and so many of them are so passionate about working at United, they’ll be a really good source of information for consumers,” Rutter said.

“And, since we have such a large company, [and] people working different shifts, in different time zones, communication is sometimes a bit of an issue. But social media, of course, is 24/7.”

Given this backdrop, employee advocacy can lead to big business benefits internally and externally, said Rutter, who led the execution of advocate-focused social media strategy for McDonald’s, the restaurant chain, before joining United last year.

“If you show that you treat your employees well, and your employees talk about it, people are going to trust them, and they are going to trust you,” she asserted.

Whether employees publicly identify where they work when they engage on social media platforms or not, “people know,” added Rutter. “And they are listening to them.”

In shaping the discussion, United relies heavily on feedback via email, its blog and the wider web to determine what people want to hear about – and, indeed, as the basis for a content calendar.

“We look and see what people are clicking on, what they are spending time on, what they are commenting on already,” Rutter said.

“We’re always trying new ways to approach the same content. If you have no ideas, or this is a brand new endeavor for you guys, try something. Test it, see if it works well. If it doesn’t, move on to something else.”

Sourced from WARC