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Are Internal Comms and Employee Advocacy the Same Thing? [Podcast]

By 27/07/2022March 20th, 2023No Comments
Are Internal Comms and Employee Advocacy the Same Thing? | DSMN8

[Episode Ten of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧👇

Empower your employees like NEVER before!

Organizations all over the world in every sector are driving strategic competitive advantage by scaling the impact of their employees’ voices… and now YOU can too! As we delve beyond the why and get straight to the how so that you can put employee-driven growth at the heart of your organization.

Hosted by employee advocacy practitioner and CEO of DSMN8, Bradley Keenan.


Welcome to episode number nine of the Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. My name is Bradley Keenan and I’m the Founder and CEO of the Employee Advocacy Platform – DSMN8.

In today’s episode, we are going to be talking about internal communications.

The First Step… How Employee Advocacy Forms an Internal Comms Function

How does internal communications impact Employee Advocacy? Are they the same thing? Essentially, what considerations do you need to make when looking at both internal communications and Employee Advocacy?

When we started selling our product back in 2016, it was really common for somebody to assume that because we’re providing a product that essentially works with the employee base, that Employee Advocacy sits as an internal communications function. And while there is definitely overlap, I would say that employee advocacy doesn’t necessarily sit as a pure internal communications function. And I’ll explain why.

So the first step of employee advocacy is taking content that’s generally already been published in the public domain and then providing it to employees. So in many ways, that first step does form an internal communications function because we’re taking content and we’re broadcasting it to our employees.

The difference with an Employee Advocacy program, is that isn’t the ultimate goal and isn’t the reason why you’re doing it in most cases.

The primary objective of an Employee Advocacy platform is external advocacy.

So if we think about internal communications being step one, that is, we’re providing content to the employee and hopefully they’re reading it and digesting it. But step two is that they’re taking that content and sharing it externally.

In order to create something that can be shared externally, it has to be presented in a certain way that is suitable for sharing on social media. I think most people will appreciate that the discipline of creating good social media content isn’t the same as creating good internal communications content. So there’s a collaboration between the two departments that really if done well, means that an Employee Advocacy program can be a fantastic asset to both internal communications and external communications.

There’s a couple of components to this that I find really interesting.

So firstly, one of the primary objectives of people using Employee Advocacy is to attract talent. So by that external sharing of content, we’re creating awareness of our brand and we’re getting more people to apply for job opportunities within our organization. Those people then move from being an external target of our content to moving into internal communication, where they become an internal target for our content.

So actually the external sharing of content becomes almost a prequel for the content that they’re going to be served in their internal communications.

We Analysed 1,000 Social Media Posts and Found THIS!

The other interesting component is that we did an analysis of about 1,000 social media posts. I think it was 1,011 in total, and what we did was we looked at all of the engagement that happens on those social media posts to work out how much of the external engagement that happens on LinkedIn is actually internal engagement from co-workers.

Of course, that could be co-workers supporting the broadcast of the content to external people, but still in the process of people sharing externally on LinkedIn, as an example, we actually saw a huge amount of internal engagement.

It was actually about 37% of the interactions that came from co-workers.

So in many ways, LinkedIn is actually a very effective internal communications tool.

The only difference, of course, is that you couldn’t share private and sensitive information that you wanted to keep within your organization on LinkedIn. So I think the two (employee advocacy and LinkedIn) in partnership work really, really well together.

Utilize Your Internal Comms Tool For Greater Impact

A great way of making people aware of content to share externally is to utilize your internal communications tool.

So if you use an Employee Advocacy program, then a great option is to integrate your Employee Advocacy program with your internal communications program, like Slack or Teams. This notifies people when there is content available to share and even gives them the ability to share that content from within their internal communications tool.

It’s even possible to use internal communications as a way to find out who your potential advocates are. Because if you have people in your organization that are really active in your internal communications program – they contribute, they create content, they comment and give feedback, then they’re probably going to make really good external ambassadors.

What we can also use is our employee engagement metrics. However, we do that to see who in the organization would make a fantastic external ambassador for our company.

Ask Yourself This!

A key question if you’re an internal communications manager looking to launch the Employee Advocacy program, is what skillset are you potentially missing that would ultimately impact how successful your program would be?

I would say that the key information you need is to understand the anatomy of what makes an amazing social media post.

Even if you’re creating good content, the content is often the destination. It’s where you’re sending somebody. And without packaging that content in a way that drives good engagement on social, you’ll be limiting the results that your Employee Advocacy program would actually get.

So like I said, if you don’t have access to that social media team or somebody internally that you can collaborate with, then that’s definitely something you should consider training yourself on.

Equally, if you’re in a social media team and you’re very used to dealing with a process where you control the social channels and you have access to them all, this network of employees is maybe a little bit scary. Then collaborate with your internal communications tool and your internal communications team to see how you can leverage that existing community of people to start to become advocates for the brand.

The Dream Scenario with Employee Advocacy…

So I guess in summary, the dream scenario, if you have an internal communications team and a social media team, is that you collaborate together because having an Employee Advocacy program benefits both.

It also means that there’s potential to absorb the cost together and make it more of a cheaper and more effective tool for both of you.

But the biggest trap that you could fall into is losing sight of what the core objective of the program is and creating metrics that enable you to see whether it’s working.

So if you only think about it from an internal communications function, then the users themselves aren’t going to recognize that aside from reading the content, we’re also looking for them to promote it.

And equally, if you’re in social media and all you’re thinking about is just promoting the content, then the users aren’t going to take the time to read the content and understand it, and ultimately benefit from having a more connected workplace where they understand the different things that are happening within their organization.

So thank you for taking the time to listen to this week’s podcast. Please do feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn.

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