[Episode Seventeen of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧👇
The Common Misconception with Employee Advocacy.
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 this episode of the Employee Advocacy and Influence podcast. My name is Bradley Keenan and I am the Founder and CEO of the Employee Advocacy Platform – DSMN8. Today, I am going to be I’m going to be talking about something that bugs me, and I’m going to try to make sure that this podcast doesn’t come off as a rant. But there’s a common misconception in the Employee Advocacy space, and it gets raised a lot on social media and sometimes I’m baited into it and I engage with the debate. But I thought I would address it on this podcast and the misconception is this.
The Misconception is THIS!
It’s that all Employee Advocacy programs are essentially just people sharing the same message over and over again and it’s obvious when somebody is running an Employee Advocacy program.
Now, you might be hearing this and thinking to yourself, yeah, I actually agree with that there, that I can see when somebody is part of an Employee Advocacy program. I see it on LinkedIn. You know, we see somebody share something when they share it. The copy is clearly not written by them. Then you see their co-worker because you have a shared connection, say the exact same thing and yeah, it’s a dead giveaway that they’re running an Employee Advocacy program.
However, the problem with that statement is that it really is confirmation bias.
Because in order for you to spot that any Employee Advocacy program is being used, it has to be used badly. And when it’s used badly the only Employee Advocacy programs you see as an outsider are the ones that are run badly.
And that means that the assumption comes up that all Employee Advocacy programs follow the same strategy and it really isn’t true.
So what tends to happen with technology is that when there’s an innovation in a technology space and you get the early adopters, use technology. And they’re kind of the, I guess the innovators in a way in that they are the people who are trying something new and they’re finding ways it works in ways it doesn’t work. And that certainly happened in the Employee Advocacy space.
So previously, all Employee Advocacy was exactly what I just explained, it was a single message. It was a single piece of content, usually a link and it was given to a thousand people and said, can a thousand people share this across their social networks.
And that’s what happened.
So this strategy became the way that people understand what Employee Advocacy is.
As technology gets more advanced, then so do the people who run those programs, and the skills and strategies that people use become advanced in the same way. So just in the way that an Employee Advocacy platform can be used badly. And it equals a bad Employee Advocacy experience is exactly the same as if somebody used E-Commerce technology badly would equal a bad shopping experience. If somebody used an email sequencing tool badly, then it’s going to be obvious that somebody just receiving tens of emails after each other and long sequences.
So what happens in technology spaces is the people who are running the programs get more advanced using them, and then they provide a better service to the people who are essentially the users. In this case, it’s our employees.
The Misconception Solution
So a good example of that would be that when you create content and let’s say, for example, the content is a typical example, let’s say it’s a company blog post and we’re looking to push that out to our employees.
Now as we produce that content, when we distribute it to our employees we should be giving them 3 to 5 variations of the post caption (Text) and what I mean by that is the actual writing that is used in the social media post. So 5 examples of that is a good start.
You might be thinking, that sounds like a lot of work because I’ve got to write 5 post captions and I’m maybe a social media manager and that’s a lot of work. The reality is, that when you produce content inside the content there is lots of inspiration you can get to create that post caption.
So that might be a quote from your CEO. It could be a statistic. It could be a quote from the opening paragraph of the blog post. Equally, if it’s a video post then using something like Otter.AI or all of the tools that most of us have access to now. We can create a transcript from the video, and inside the video, there are plenty of post captions and then once you have 2 or 3 of those small tweaks to the closing statement, in the opening statement, you can quickly create 5-10 variations of text in a few minutes. Once you know how to do it.
So already we have a number of variations of the content that could be shared.
Then you have the image that is shared with the content. Now, as we scroll through our social media feeds, the things that draw our attention are the images so if we see the same image over and over again, then that is a problem. So as you start to build libraries of content in your Employee Advocacy program, you can apply multiple images so the employee has the option to select from those images.
So let’s say, this is an employer branding message. As an example, you might have a library of 10 or 20 images, then quickly you’re going to get more variation in the content that’s shared. So simple math would be that if you had 5 images and 5 different post captions. You already have 25 variations of that text.
Now, if you’re sharing a link, the link has a title, the content title. If you were to add 5 variations of that when you shared a piece of content, you have 125 different variations of the content.
Then as you layer in the distribution of that content, over time, you can essentially distribute content not all at once, but maybe to a few people every few hours so that you distribute the content or you, I guess publish the content in a more methodical way.
So you don’t see that shared connection experience that maybe some people who have looked into Employee Advocacy will have experienced.
And I guess the final point to this is that seeing bad implementations of other people’s attempts at something shouldn’t stop you from doing it. We’ve always seen bad implementations of ads, of creative, and that doesn’t stop us as marketers from looking at ways that we’re going to run something and do it properly.
You need to do THIS when running an EA program!
But really the key takeaway is that if you’re going to run an Employee Advocacy program, it needs to be something which is highly strategic and something that you invest in running.
If as a Program Leader, you just put one piece of content in a week and it’s got one piece of text, it’s got one image. Then of course, the only thing you’re going to see on social is that same message shared over and over again, but with a bigger investment in resources, in customizing the content, then that feeling that you’ve just blasted LinkedIn with the same message over and over again does essentially get removed.
A key component of the BEST Programs
The Employee Advocacy Challenge
The challenge with that is that you can in theory, provide training up front that says this is the reason why customizing your text is important. But for many of the people that join in your Advocacy program, they may have not actually shared any content on social ever. So to take them from zero to posting 3 times a week, but adding their own point of view could be too much.
But what you use is the content and the writing that you’ve produced for somebody as a stepping stone to get them on a journey to customizing their text and essentially getting to the standard that you want them to ultimately get to. And as you start to think about running your program, then maybe start with inviting users who do have a strong point of view and will add that to the content to essentially create a blueprint for others to follow.
So I hope that gave you something to consider. As always, please do connect with me on LinkedIn. I will add some additional resources and notes to the footnotes of the show. But yes, please do connect with me on LinkedIn and I look forward to speaking again this time next week.