[Episode Fifteen of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧👇
It’s Time To RE-BOOT Your Employee Advocacy Program!
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 talking about the idea that maybe it’s time to consider doing a reboot on your Employee Advocacy program.
The Reasons Why You Should Re-Boot Your Employee Advocacy Program
So this could be for a number of reasons. So it could be that you’re new to your organization, and you’ve just inherited a program from somebody else. Or it could just be that you’ve been running your program for a number of years.
You’re not seeing the results that is needed, so maybe it’s time to consider almost going back to the start and building something from scratch.
The History of Employee Advocacy
So before I talk about how you can go about doing that, I think it’s worth talking just briefly about the, I guess, the history of Employee Advocacy as a concept as a category, and that, I think, has a lot of relevance to this conversation. So, DSMN8 weren’t the first company to produce this idea of creating technology around Employee Advocacy. I think when I first founded the business, I thought we were, but once I realized that Employee Advocacy was a category, I found that there was already some organizations doing this, and they’d been doing it since, I think, about 2009 and really, I’m of the opinion that 2009 was way too early to be doing Employee Advocacy. Even in 2009, people weren’t on LinkedIn as much as they are and certainly, from a professional viewpoint, social media was nowhere near as important as it is today.
So really, what happened was there was a group of companies, I would say really 2 to 3 main organizations that started doing Employee Advocacy way back in 2009, and they gained some traction, but really what people were looking to do then was to receive information from the organizations that they work for so most of those companies that started originally actually pivoted their offering into being more internal communications programs so obviously, because the fundamentals of Employee Advocacy is firstly, you need to get content to people and then you need to get them to share it, so it’s a logical pivot for a company to make.
But where that left a lot of companies, and specifically a company I actually spoke to this week, is that they signed up for this idea of having their employees become ambassadors and really what happened was what they now use their Employee Advocacy program for is more of an internal communications program, and there’s nothing wrong with that but if the primary objective is to create external ambassadors then just having your people digest information simply isn’t enough. So there’s a huge amount of Employee Advocacy programs out there that people are inheriting, and they’re just not seeing the results that ultimately they want to deliver.
Establish The Reason Why Your Employee Advocacy Program Isn’t Working
So if your platform has gone stale and you’re thinking about doing a reboot, before you do that, I would encourage you to survey the people that were in the program originally or certainly the people who were in the program originally who are still with the organization now. So what I would be looking to get from those conversations is firstly, you know, it’s easy to look for, I guess, confirmation bias or, you know, to ask people what they loved about it and talk to the people who share and we know why do they do it. But really, what you want to get from this is what made the program go stale in the first place. So you want to find people who originally shared with the platform. Maybe they used it for, I would say for a decent period of time before disengaging, because you’re always going to get people to try the platform once and say, hey, it’s not for me, but you want to find people that used it for, let’s say, six months or so and then stopped and asked them why they stopped doing it.
So there could be a component where it’s a technology issue. Maybe it’s the program or platform that you’ve used, maybe you don’t use the platform at all. But it could also be simply the content wasn’t good enough, and it didn’t resonate with them as individuals, so they didn’t feel comfortable sharing it. Or it could be the program leader. It could have been however you ran the program or how your predecessor ran it. So first of all, collect that data so you can find out what went wrong last time so you can essentially not repeat history.
Create Your Game Plan
And then, almost as if you were starting from scratch, I would say you really need to create a game plan and a set of objectives. So, why are you running an Employee Advocacy Program? So it’s really easy just to say that we want our employees to be external ambassadors for the company. But to what end? What are you looking to do? Is it that you’re looking for your salespeople to be more active on social so they can close more deals? Is it because you want to attract more talent so you want to share more content around why somebody would work in your organization and the things that go on inside your business. So start with creating that game plan and go to a select group of users and get feedback from them. So say, hey, this is what we’re thinking about doing. How would this have impacted you, and would this have kept you inside the program?
The Sales Pivot! Why Motivation Is Now Different
So by doing that, what you’re able to do is say, actually, we’ve got this program where if you use technology or not and use the learnings from before to essentially build a much better program now, and one of the big challenges is that if you were an early adopter to Employee Advocacy and it hasn’t worked then sometimes there can be expectations inside the business that, hey we tried Employee Advocacy and it didn’t work, but just as I was talking about when I was discussing the history of Employee Advocacy, there’s one, I would say, event in time that made a big difference to how Employee Advocacy works now and that was COVID because pre-COVID people saw a lot more of each other.
So obviously we were, most people were, not working remotely at the time and now most people are or certainly in hybrid roles, and most Salespeople did most of their selling face to face or certainly they would have more client contact than they have now. So what happened during COVID is all of a sudden, everybody was at home. So you’ve got salespeople that are looking to build a personal brand because they want to be remembered by their customers but also for people internally, they want other people in their organization to know who they are. So somebody who may not have been motivated to join an Employee Advocacy program in 2019 could be highly motivated to do it now. So once you’ve gathered that data, you put a game plan in place.
It’s all about Training and Planning
It’s then a matter of training people, creating a social media policy (which I’ve spoken about in a previous episode) and essentially building a communications plan so you can go to the rest of the organization and show them what your Employee Advocacy program is about. So what it’s about now, what the values of the program are, what the objectives are and maybe even address the things that went wrong in the past so that people can know that same process isn’t going to happen this time.
So a big factor in why people disengage in Employee Advocacy programs, or one of them, is that they are worried that by sharing on social they will be seen to be searching for a new job. So give them the assurances that that’s not going to be the case and then the other piece is just having everybody act as a human billboard for boring content, boring marketing content that nobody wants to share, and that sometimes is the thing that sometimes people are scared of saying is that if you’re a B2B marketer, then it’s actually really hard to create content that isn’t boring because senior leadership see content as something that needs to deliver immediate results right now.
Identify Your Employee Value Proposition
So everything has to be about selling the product and closing deals and what we know is that that’s okay to do that maybe 20/30% of the time, but the rest of the content should be about establishing thought leadership and educating people and potentially even entertaining people.
So maybe build a framework around your content so people know what content’s going to be in the program for them to share.
And then finally, make sure you have your value proposition established for the people who are going to be part of the program.
So, why share content? What value is it to the employee?
And don’t focus on the value to the organization, but really, focus on them as individuals and talk to them about how being an employee advocate is going to help them develop in their career, both internally but also potentially externally as they build their own social media community that they can leverage for years to come.
So, I hope that gave you lots to think about when it comes to rebooting your Employee Advocacy program. If you are looking to find out how effective your current efforts are on social at the moment, please do feel free to get in contact with me on LinkedIn. If you drop me a connection request and say you’re a podcast listener.
But if you need the data, then we can give it to you. So we can show you how many of your employees are sharing at the moment, and also what’s more interesting is how that breaks down by seniority in your organization. So yes, the blanket statement of only 3% of people are sharing is, you know, it has an impact but a lot of those people may be very junior, may not be client-facing, but if you’ve only got, say, 5% of your senior leadership and your C-suite sharing, then that’s definitely something that I would consider to be something that needs addressing.
So, like I said, do feel free to get in touch with me and again, thank you for taking the time to listen to this week’s episode of our podcast.