By Maggie Schneider Huston-Oracle on Jul 28, 2015
In the second installment of this series on Employee Advocacy (EA), we are discussing strategies to engage employees in advocacy. Part one discusses what EA is and why it’s important.
It’s really lovely to talk about how 500 employees could relay your message to a potential audience of 50,700, but it’s a lot harder to make those numbers happen. Here’s how we do it:
Begging is not a good look (unless you have fur).
1. Executive Buy In
This topic alone could be a blog post in and of itself, but suffice it to say that no one will do extra work for free without the boss saying, “This is a priority.” Some quick suggestions to make this easier:
A. Show them the numbers: if you have 500 employees, you can generate 50,700 potential impressions. Present clear goals: Show how social posts can impact revenue. For X amount of time and money, we can expect Y more earned media, which will then convert to Z more sales.
B. Show them how easy it is: If your executives are not social media savvy, the idea of letting their employees run wild on social media can be terrifying. Present a social media policy that clearly outlines employee conduct on social media. Introduce them to the platforms so they feel comfortable with the technology.
C. Show off your company culture: If you’re a great place to work, your employees will naturally be jazzed about sharing their experiences. Happy employees are genuine and effective ambassadors for your company.
2. Employee Buy In: What’s In It For Me?
Now that the C-Suite is on board, there are several different approaches to enlist your employees as advocates:
A. The “Personal Branding” approach: Let’s be honest - the days of staying with one company for 30 years are over. It comes down to this: establishing your personal brand online will help you find your next job. Leaving a digital footprint that demonstrates your expertise in professional areas that matter to you will provide you with more opportunities than an employee who just posts pictures of their cat.
B. The “Incentives” approach: Who doesn’t love a gift card? Or perhaps a preferential parking spot? Lunch with the CEO? There are plenty of ways to reward positive behavior. Many EA tools come with a “leaderboard” that will track which employees are having the most success advocating for your company. Unleashing your employees’ competitive spirit can be very effective. If you don’t want to pit individuals against each other, you could also evaluate groups of employees as a team.
C. The “Performance Review” approach: Unlikely to be successful, and here’s why: no one wants to be forced to advocate for something they don’t believe in. If you’re mandating that your employees post once a week, that could lead to resentment. Don’t do it.
3. All Aboard!
Great! You’ve got the C-suite and (some) of the employees on the advocacy choo-choo train. Here’s how to roll out of the station:
A. Cover your legal bases first: make sure everyone knows your social media policy. You want your employees to feel comfortable posting online; knowing what they can’t say goes a long way.
B. Offer social media training: no question too small, no idea too dumb - let ‘em rip. You’re the social media expert, so teach your employees what works best.
C. Content Distribution/EA tool: You’ve got to get your content to your employees. There are several options available for EA. Most tools will offer a mobile app, an email alert, and some sort of leaderboard. If a formal tool seems too expensive, perhaps an email blast to your advocates works best. Just be sure to figure out a way to distribute content (and pre-populated posts) to your advocates, so they don’t have to work too hard. Make it as easy as possible for them to share your content.
I’m having some problems!
Don’t worry - everybody will. In the final part of our series, we will discuss tips and tricks that we’ve learned from our own experience in EA. Stay tuned…