Author(s), Title and Publication

Cervellon, M-C. & Lirio, P. (2017). When employees don’t ‘like’ their employers on social media. MIT Sloan Management Review, 58(2), 63-70.


When employees talk privately about their brands or the industries in which their companies operate, their comments will often have more credibility with their network of contacts than when they speak about them in professional contexts. To gain insight on how employees engage in social media, the authors conducted two studies. The first one looked at French, German, and Russian/Eastern European employees of a multinational company selling fast-moving consumer goods. After analyzing the results of the 353 surveyed employees, the researchers found a very low brand engagement on social media among employees. The validity of the first study was tested and supported with a second study of 252 employees and managers in France working in private-sector companies with at least 50 employees.

Employee branding is a process whereby employees internalize the company brand image and project that image to customers, job candidates, and other stakeholders. The authors found several factors that stand in the way of employee branding behaviors on social media, including: lack of understanding among employees of the organization’s social media strategy, lack of awareness of the importance of their role in social media, and discomfort around using social media in professional settings. Based on these and other factors, the authors developed a set of five best practices and recommendations for encouraging effective employee branding on social media: (1) empower employee advocates, (2) outline the boundaries of employees’ social media presence, (3) foster brand engagement, (4) make content relevant and easy to share, and (5) reward employee voice.

Implications for Practice

Not being able to present the voice of your employees may communicate lackluster enthusiasm on the part of employees toward the company. Given this reality, organizations should (1) clearly state what is expected from employees and train them adequately on brand values and heritage, and (2) find ways to integrate social media into internal branding strategies and training. In branding goods and services, the entire workforce needs to be trained to deliver the brand promise and engage actively with potential customers and job candidates on a day-to-day basis.

Location of Article

This article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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