[Episode One 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 the Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast.
We’re going to start at the start. In fact, we’re gonna go before the start and talk about things that you need to do way ahead of choosing a technology partner to run an employee advocacy program.
And really, that starts with choosing what we would refer to as a program leader.
Choosing a Program Leader
Some people would call it an administrator but essentially what we’re talking about is the person in your organization or people that are going to have the overall responsibility for the day to day operations of running an employee advocacy program. And that can involve inviting employees, onboarding new advocates. And it even involves reporting back to the business on the success of the program. And there are two mistakes that people make when they think about who their program leader is going to be.
The first is that either they don’t delegate it at all or they choose someone too senior in their organization. What can happen is that when you first launch an advocacy program, it can be quite exciting and there’s lots of attention given to it. But if the person’s too senior, what can happen is they get distracted with other things, other programs in the business and it can become something that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves and it falls by the wayside. The next thing that we see, which is a problem is when you choose someone too junior to run the program. So it can feel like maybe this is something we could delegate to an intern because they’re super eager and they really want something to have as their own project. But what can happen is that person’s too junior in the organization and they don’t have the confidence yet in the company to run onboarding programs, to communicate with senior leadership in the organization because often the most valuable ambassadors for your program are going to be high-level senior executives, high performing salespeople and really that person needs confidence to be able to communicate with those people on an ongoing basis.
So I always recommend that you look for somebody a couple of years into the business who has already demonstrated that they feel comfortable communicating with people at all different seniority levels within the organization. And you want to find somebody that, as I said before, really wants something to hang their hat on and almost become famous for within the organization because it’s not uncommon for you to literally double the reach of your current existing social media efforts in a week or two. And that only requires a small number of users to get to that place. In some circumstances, it could be one user. We see it’s very common for the CEO of an organization to actually have a bigger social media audience than say the corporate social media channels. It’s less common when it comes to B2C brands, but certainly, in a B2B environment, it’s very, very common.
The next item on your to-do list is to define what advocacy-ready content actually means.
Defining 'Advocacy-Ready' Content
It isn’t every single piece of content that you put out on your corporate channel. And let me explain why.
So as you bring on ambassadors into your advocacy program, your goal should be to give value to the ambassador in the form of good content that they share with their audience that provides their audience with value. And in turn, the company benefit through building a brand and being known as somebody who produces great content that is syndicated via their employee network and essentially bringing people into the centre of their social media strategy.
What employee advocacy isn’t and shouldn’t be is seeing your employees as just another sales channel to push out corporate messaging.
Now you can do that. It’s possible, but the content that is more sales focused. So let’s say it’s a webinar for instance that you’re looking for prospective clients to join. It’s fine to distribute by that your employees but it needs to be a blend and a mix with other content that you are producing because you want to build that trust with your ambassador network. So they feel comfortable sharing content, which ultimately when you do have content which requires some form of call to action, whether that’s registering for a webinar, booking a demo, et cetera, they feel comfortable doing that.
So now you know what content is suitable for sharing via your employee advocacy program. You need to think about how you are going to distribute the content in an effective way.
So as our companies get bigger, it’s no secret that not every piece of content is going to be relevant to every single employee. And the whole purpose of having an employee advocacy system is that we are syndicating content to employees based on key factors about their job or location. So you need to think about the structure and the almost the hierarchy of the content and how that’s going to be distributed. So you want to avoid overcomplicating this and it needs to mirror the types of content that you produce. So for instance, if you only produce five pieces of content a week, and that content is valid for all employees, then there’s really little value in creating complex teams and group structures if you’re not actually going to produce content specifically for those teams and groups.
So the way that I think about this is that there are teams and there are groups, teams more related to where you are from, could be that you are in the North America team or that you are in the finance team. And groups are going to be more about filtering content based on what that content is about. That could be a certain product or a certain area of responsibility within an organization. But the trick here is not to over-complicate your teams and group structure, and to make sure that it mirrors the types of content that you produce. And it might be that you start off small with just a team for each country or a team for each department and add groups and topic structures as your advocacy efforts get more sophisticated and you’re producing more content.
So now you know what content is suited to share via your employee network and you know how you’re going to syndicate it to the right people. You now need to think about what success would actually look like 30, 60, and 90 days out.
What Success Looks Like
And there are two different approaches to looking at the analytics. So you have your leading indicators and that’s going to be things like if you invite a hundred advocates, potential advocates how many of them accept your invitation and become active users? Then once you have those active users, how frequently do they share content with their audience? So that’s your leading indicator. Your lagging indicator is going to be the results that come from those efforts.
Now we look at things like the reach of the content, the audience size, and how many interactions they get on social. And also you’re going to be tracking content clicks that come from the content that is shared. Now it’s very risky thinking about ROI, purely from a perspective of how many people click on the content because not everybody is going to be in market when your employees are sharing content about whatever product and service you offer as a company. I think about this as share a voice on social from a personal branding perspective.
So if we take the example that I’m a salesperson and my audience is going to be built up of colleagues from previous organizations that work within my industry and prospective clients and people that I do business with on a regular basis. Those people who I’m looking to do business with are probably connected with other versions of me from my competitors. So by me sharing content frequently, I remain front of mind and more visible to them on LinkedIn. So while content clicks are a great way of demonstrating return for the platform because you can calculate what the comparative cost per click is based on the cost of running a program, it’s not the be-all and end-all. And really it’s so important to keep in mind that branding component and the overall brand exposure that would come from many employees sharing content on their networks because there’s a dark social component to this as well in that as your employees are sharing content and other people in their network are liking that content that content becomes visible to their audience as well. So it has a network effect that really can’t be understated.
The MOST Important Thing To Do
And finally, the most important thing that you have to do before launching an employee advocacy program is getting C level executive sponsorship of your program.
Employees need to know that this is not another marketing fad and that this is a mandate change within your organization that you have moved from a company that discourages posting content onto social to encouraging it. And that may sound obvious to you as a marketer. But if you’ve worked in an organization that has previously been told that you will lose your job, if you post a social, you need to tell people that that has changed. And that has to come from somebody as senior as possible within your organization.
Now, I understand that if your company is 50,000 employees, getting the CEO or CFO or COO to post about why everybody should be using an employee advocacy program might be tough, but certainly looking at divisional heads and people that are in a place of authority that can speak and can say that this is the new way that we are approaching social and that we value everybody who participates.
So thank you for taking the time to listen to the very first episode of our podcast. If you are looking to launch a program in your organization and you need help, please do get in touch. My team are always willing to share data and insights with you. And we do have the capability to show you how many of your existing employees are already sharing content to LinkedIn and how that breaks down by seniority. And that’s something that we do at no cost. So please do feel free to get in touch on LinkedIn.