Let me begin by saying, out of any other social media program that your enterprise decides to implement, an employee advocacy program is the one initiative that will touch more of your employees than any. Restating the obvious, employee advocacy thus has the potential to bring true culture change to your organization than any other initiative in the social media space. This is one of the primary reasons why, when implementing employee advocacy, it is an absolute must that you walk before you run.
There’s another important reason why you need to lay down a framework for your employee advocacy program before you begin to implement it: Your employees’ social media literacy. Very few of your employees are as well-versed in using social from a professional perspective as the managers of the program are, and after interviewing many leaders of employee advocacy programs across many enterprises in the United States, it is safe to say that one of the unexpected outcomes of an employee advocacy program has been the amount of education and training that they have needed to give their employees to help them raise their social media literacy from a professional perspective.
Hopefully we’re on the same page now when I see that there is a process that you need to undertake to prepare your enterprise for employee advocacy. What would some of those preparatory steps look like? Let me review a few of what I feel are the most important ones:
- Goal Setting
Anyone who has read Maximize Your Social or built a social media strategy knows that anything you do in social media – or in business for that matter – must begin with determining the objectives, or “P” in the “PDCA” Deming Circle, of your program. Employee advocacy is no different.
Here’s one way of looking at it: If you were to have all of your employees share one of your branded messages, what would it be? And why? What would an editorial calendar of employee advocacy content look like over the course of a week or a month? From this simple analysis, a trend should appear as to what you’re trying to achieve.
Now take a step back and put yourself in your employee’s shoes: Would I, as an employee, actually want to share that message with my personal network? This is something that is often missing in the planning for employee advocacy. It’s simple to think about what a brand would like employees to share, but if none of them wish to do so, it’s simply a waste of time to implement as such.
This is why, just as anything else in social business strategy, it is important to include stakeholders from around the organization in your initial planning for employee advocacy, including, obviously, Human Resources and Internal Communications.
Regardless of the objectives you might have had as you analyzed that initial content, there is a reality check with the rest of the organization where you feel you might need to alter those objectives for more widespread adoption of your program. And that is fine. After all, like I always say, social media replaces nothing but complements everything. Find areas in your social business where employee advocacy is a natural complement rather than trying to fit a square peg of what you would ideally want to achieve into the round circle of reality which are the voices of your employees.
- Content Strategy
Obviously, content becomes the main engine for your employee advocacy program, and I’ve already hinted about the need to think about this content from the employee’s perspective. Similar as to how your employee base might influence your objective for your employee advocacy, you now need to build content that helps serve your unique objectives. That content might be very different than what your marketing departments has served up until now. It might require you to do more work to interview employees or “insource” content directly from them.
Another way to think about the content is to segment your content strategy around the different types of employees that you have, whether it’s the departments they work in, where they live, what cultural affinities they have, etc. A one-size-fits-all content strategy simply will not be effective when considering an enterprise-wide employee advocacy program.
Regardless of your objectives for your employee advocacy program, I would expect that the content in the editorial calendar of your program will look different than what your marketing department is sharing in social.
- Analytics / KPIs
You’ve created your objectives for your program and now have an idea as to what content you are planning to share with your employees. How will you measure the success or failure of your program? It will obviously come down to the “C” of the Deming Circle or “Check.” But without creating KPIs to measure your program in the first place, how will you know what to check?
There are common KPIs used to measure employee advocacy programs, but using them only makes sense based on your objective. For instance, if Social Selling is the most important objective for your employee advocacy, measuring the adoption of the program throughout your employee base becomes irrelevant. In fact measuring how often your employees post becomes irrelevant as well. What impact the messages the sales team posts and how it effects the marketing funnel at each stage becomes what you end up measuring, not simple metrics like general adoption or even reach.
If you want to read about all of the 11 steps in more depth, my friends at the leading employee advocacy software company PostBeyond have written a definitive ebook that outlines in some detail what all of these steps are and what you need to do to implement a successful employee advocacy program. You can download the entire ebook for free by clicking here.
More importantly, I’ll be joined by Chad McCaffrey, VP of Growth & Customer Success at PostBeyond, for a free webinar on Wednesday, October 21 to discuss how to prepare your enterprise for employee advocacy at a deeper level, and have the authors of the ebook available for any specific questions that you might have regardless of where along the employee advocacy path your enterprise might be. This webinar will be a deeper and dynamic extension of the ebook and will include topics such as change management, empowering leaders of tomorrow, content being the catalyst of modern business communications, and the importance of the right culture for employee advocacy.
Of course, should you attend Social Tools Summit in San Francisco later this month, you will have the ability to engage with PostBeyond and many other luminaries in the world of corporate social media and social media tools, on a personal level. I hope to see you there – but if not, I look forward to “seeing” you on the webinar.
For those of you who have already implemented an employee advocacy program, what bits of wisdom do you have to share? For those who haven’t started yet, what burning questions do you have?