So you’ve decided to roll out an employee advocacy program. Smart move. One of the biggest benefits is getting your brand in front of a large, trusted audience. In fact, according to Nielsen, 84% of global respondents said recommendations from people they know are still the most influential—ranking word of mouth marketing the No. 1 most effective form of advertising. No doubt, this is a large initiative for your organization, so here are five tips that will help keep you on track as your program takes shape.
1. It’s an Employee Advocacy Program—Treat It Like One
Program management is often closely associated with change management, and that is exactly what you need to be successful. Most organizations have pockets of social success (some are quite large) but are not inherently social themselves. Is this your organization? Some form of change management is what you will need to be successful. Keeping people on track, meeting deadlines on deliverables, maintaining support from multiple internal stakeholders—these are all aspects of successfully rolling out an employee advocacy program. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be complicated—just properly managed.
2. Legal, HR & Procurement Are Your Friends
Related to the program management tip, be sure that your legal, HR and procurement teams understand what is involved when rolling out an employee advocacy program. Legal will have questions about your current social media policy; HR about the ability to better fill open job requisitions (Hint: You can become their best friend with a solid program); procurement on the contract and nature of the relationship between you and your employee advocacy vendor. Keep these teams informed, aware of your deadlines and actively involved in the process.
3. Integrate All Content Channels
Deciding what content to publish based on how it will resonate with your intended audience might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry. You have plenty of options for content when it comes to your employee advocacy program. Just to name a few:
- Your company blog
- Brand and influencer Twitter accounts
- PR contacts (They are writing stuff for third-party publications. Find it.)
- Customer content (Your customers have blogs, brand Twitter accounts and PR contacts just as you do.)
On top of this quick list, you also should plug your employee advocacy program into existing content and broader marketing initiatives. Use the content generated from these activities to make sure that your employee advocacy program is an amplification tool.
4. Set Context With Your Employees Before They Ask Why
Excitement. Trepidation. Anxiousness. Confusion.
Wait, what? Simply telling your employees that they can share stories in social based on the rollout of an employee advocacy program is not enough. Many will dig into the tool du jour (probably out of curiousity), use it for a few days/weeks and then ask why they should continue. This is because we failed to answer the long-term question for them. Why is participating in an employee advocacy program good for them and good for the company they work for? What are the long-term benefits? Are there rewards for participation?
Answering these questions will help a large employee base understand the fuller context associated with rolling out an employee advocacy program. Just sending an email might not be enough.
5. Answer the Important Questions With Key Metrics
You want to track metrics that will act as leading indicators. This will help you quickly deduce—both for you and for your leadership team—whether the initial rollout of an employee advocacy program is successful. For example, during the rollout, pay close attention to the average number of shares per employee. This number will continue to rise until you hit a natural plateau. While rising, the average number of shares will tell you that adoption is going well and more employees are taking to the system each day.
Grow Even Stronger
Of course, there is more to an employee advocacy program than just five tips, but it’s details like these that are often overlooked during the rollout of an employee advocacy program. Considering these tips (and the others you no doubt already know about) will help you build a stronger program for employees, as will having the right tools.
Greg Tirico: Greg Tirico is Senior Manager of Advocacy Solutions and Services at Sprout Social. He has spent the majority of his career leading digital marketing initiatives in Fortune 500 organizations. When not espousing the benefits of employee advocacy, he can be found searching for the perfect Pinot Noir. Hit up Greg on Twitter @GregTirico.