During the month of August, we have been exploring the topic of Employee Advocacy (EA).
You’d think cultivating a culture of employee advocacy would be easy, right? Create a happy workplace, and advocacy will follow. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Here are four steps to facilitate a culture of EA.
Collaboration and teamwork are essential elements of an advocacy culture. Being a part of a team will encourage your employees to share content. For example, at Oracle Social Cloud, we have built a sense of camaraderie with our Fancy Friday posts. After bonding over pirate costumes and 80s hair, not only has our team become closer, we have also shared more of our content on our personal social handles. We’re letting our friends and followers know we work on a fun team, so you may want to, too.
We weren't kidding - we really dressed up as pirates.
... and as ladies of the 80's.
Letting your employees know what is appropriate content to share is another crucial step to creating a culture of advocacy. What one person might consider “eye catching” content is not necessarily appropriate for a public discussion. There are several ways you can do this: buying a professional tool to distribute content, creating an intraweb page for relevant stories, or just sending out an email blast with suggested posts. Whichever way you do it, it will significantly increase your employee’s confidence.
Feedback after an employee posts is a particularly tricky situation. If it is a huge problem, it must be addressed quickly and publicly so the mistake is not repeated. If it is a minor problem, it’s best to leave it be; micromanaging undermines the sense of trust between employee and employer. Positive reinforcement is the best strategy. Catch your employees doing something good, and they’ll be more likely to repeat it.
3. Trust Your Employees
Like all good relationships, EA starts with trust. As Psychology Today says, “The problem in most workplaces is distrust, not disengagement… Essentially, trust enables engagement. If you want engagement, you need trust.”
This means employers need to trust their employees to behave appropriately on social media. By creating a clear social media policy and encouraging employees to post online, they’re constructing an unofficial social contract: we believe you have good judgement and will obey the rules. If an employee is afraid of losing their job based on a social media post, they won’t do it.
This starts at the beginning of employment: hire well. Ask “If this happened, what would you do?” questions during the interview. Give a pop quiz: “You just received this message. How will you respond in 140 characters?” Check references with specific questions like, “What would you trust this person to do?” and “What was their biggest judgement error?” Hire someone you would trust to take care of your dog.
If you wouldn't trust a new hire to take care of this sweet face, why would you give them the keys to your social voice?
4. Lead By Example - Motivate Up and Down the Chain
This one is pretty obvious, but it bears repeating: actions speak louder than words. If management insists that EA is important, then they must do it too. Hypocrisy is bad for business. Practice what you preach.
In many companies, however, that simply isn’t reality. If you’re not a digital native, it may be intimidating to jump on board. Convince these employees that advocacy is in their best interest by reminding them that they’re building their personal brand online. Whether it’s for their next job or for landing the next sale, everyone benefits from having a strong digital brand.
Read about EA and why it matters here. Learn how to understand how to activate employees here. Click here to read about the five most common problems with EA. Finally, learn how EA can improve recruiting.