A common challenge organizations face when rolling out an employee advocacy program is engagement.
Having worked with hundreds of organizations on the rollout of their social advocacy programs, it’s clear that in order to get your employees engaged, they need to understand why doing so will be of benefit to them. WIIFM?
Under any scenario your company will benefit from an employee advocacy program, however if you approach it from a top-down, corporate-goals-before-all standpoint, your employees will be less engaged and the results will suffer.
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michael brenner and liz bedor
In this post, I explore some simple ways our clients are driving home the value of being social to their employees and getting them to become strong participants in their employee advocacy programs.
Need a refresher on all things employee advocacy? Here is a complete comprehensive guide.
Put your employees at the center of your program
The success of your employee advocacy program hinges on engagement: how often and how much your employees are using the tool(s) you provide them. Period. The more an employee engages with the tools the more content they will share.
The catch is that it’s no one’s job to use an employee advocacy tool, they have to want to use it. Training, rewards, and recognition are all important, however and to start, your employees need to understand why being socially active should be important to them.
Some key benefits include:
- Builds their knowledge and credibility
- Develops them as thought leaders in the eyes of their peers
- Helps establish their future career prospects and growth
- Allows them to directly contribute to the growth of their company
Fundamentally, when it comes to an individual employee’s success on any social network it can be narrowed down to three things: their profile, communications, and connections. It’s in both parties’ interests for the employee to improve their skills in each of these areas.
Help your workforce establish professional-grade profiles
Helping your employees create professional-grade social profiles is an important first step. As the saying goes “the medium is the message”; the quality and authority of your employees’ communications will be judged, in part on the quality of their profiles.
Problem is, most people don’t know what they need to do to establish a professional-grade profile and even if they did, they likely don’t have the skills or resources necessary to craft good copy or produce nice visual assets. This is where you can get involved and support their needs.
For your employee: Provide them with basic resources (e.g., access to a copywriter, a photographer, and a graphic designer) to spruce up their profiles. In total, we’re talking maybe a hundred dollars in cost per employee. The result: increased authority and willingness to show it off and get involved in sharing content.
For your company: While you don’t own an employee’s social profiles, they represent your business and in many ways are now an extension of your brand. You want your employees’ profiles looking good, being seen as trusted authority figures in your industry, and positioned for success. Help them put their best face forward!
Teach your workforce how to speak the language of their networks
Once the foundation of a great profile has been laid, it’s time to focus on communication. No one network is the same in terms of how its members communicate. Some networks are for friends and family, others are for strangers, others are for professionals and business orientated.
It’s best to think of each network as its own little unique society. They have their own language, social structure, and rules around behavior. To be effective – to get people to pay attention to what you’re saying – you need to know how to talk the talk and walk the walk.
Just like with profiles, a simple way to show how things are done is to compile a collection of good and bad examples of communication on each network. Teach them what good communication looks like, encourage them to mimic it, and help them develop their own voice.
The easiest way to do this is to establish a simple social media policy that covers the basics and provides unique examples of good social communication. Without a good social policy that is easily accessible, you may be deterring your workforce from getting involved.
For your employee: We recommend providing ongoing support and development; communicating is something they’ll be doing every day! Regular feedback and criticism from people who know what they’re doing, access to mentors, even a quarterly speaker series are all effective programs many companies have put in place.
For your company: An effective communicator will produce more and better results than an ineffective communicator. Further and just like an employee’s profile, their communications are connected with your brand. It’s very much within your interest to help them refine their skills.
Show them how to grow their networks
Friends, followers, and connections are the currency of social media. The more quality people you’re connected with, the more people your communications will be exposed to, and the more likely it is they’ll be clicked and engaged with.
Growing their networks should be a daily priority for your employees. Every single day, every one of your employees are interacting with people or doing things that present an opportunity to add more people to their networks. They just need to know when and how to go about doing it.
For your employee: Connections are currency: each one of them literally has a value. Consider sharing the value your company places on a connection to drive the point home. There’s no greater service you can provide an employee in the social realm than helping them grow their networks.
For your company: The more quality connections your employees have, the better the results will be when they share your content. Helping someone grow their network does not require much and the dividends to you and them will be great.
It should always be about your employees
These are three, simple things you can do to get more of your employees behind the idea that being social is going to be valuable to them and your company. However, it’s really just the beginning.
Once you’ve got them rolling, additional pieces are going to be needed to put in place to keep them going on a day-to-day basis. Specifically, I’m speaking about incentives and recognition, both of which we’ll dive into in future posts. When employees are recognized for their efforts and given a chance to get more involved with their company, the results will speak for themselves.
Of course, the goal of an employee advocacy initiative is to help drive more brand awareness, increase web traffic, improve leads, etc. But, remember that without your workforce, your company has no chance in growing.
For the level of adoption to work and employees to actually care about being social, they need to understand the benefits to them personally and how to effectively be involved. Employees are not required to be socially active, nor is their social accounts in your control so if all you care about is how it helps you, you’ll lose their interest right from the start.
As with every business initiative, it’s about taking the long view. Yes, you can absolutely start to produce results next week, however, you need to put some miles on the engine before you push the pedal all the way down. Employee advocacy is about culture and enablement.
Your employees can be your greatest asset, however, you need to get them to the starting line, build trust, and provide real incentives and rewards for their involvement. If they believe there’s value in it for them they’ll engage and you’ll end up with a top performing program.
Interested in starting an employee advocacy program at your company? Download this guide and learn how to transform your workforce into a social media powerhouse.