What's the worst that could happen?
Influence is powerful, and it is built on advocacy. From the press and celebrities to the #instafamous and micro influencers, brands understand getting others to speak on their behalf makes their story that much stronger.
Employees are the next frontier in advocacy. Employee advocacy programs use your team’s passion to propel awareness of your business. They increase sales and leads, build authority and increase engagement but the best part is that employees see the benefits too. Advocacy programs help them build their own profile, create content and support brands they trust and believe in.
Employee advocacy is a two-way street, but not every program is a win-win. Programs can fall short of expectations, costing valuable time and resources, and at worse, damaging your brand image or even your employee relationships.
Here’s how your employee advocacy program can go wrong
- You don’t have a plan in place – Businesses often abruptly reverse a social media ban to request employees share a one-off company post. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is the wrong approach. Develop your plan of attack, formalise the program, make sure you have leaders to champion it internally. Make sure you have buy-in from employees before asking them to share anything.
- You lose track of why you’re doing it – Employee advocacy isn’t just a feel-good exercise. It should be tied to real business goals. This might include generating awareness around a product launch, strengthening your community outreach, driving event attendance or even recruiting top talent. Be clear about your objectives and how you’re going to track and evaluate the results.
- Your content isn’t relevant or interesting – You might be surprised to know how many businesses embark on a content initiative without a clear understanding of what that they want to say or who will actually create it. This leads to content that adds to the noise and efforts that fall by the wayside in a few months. Designate someone (or a team) to drive your content plan and ensure it hits the mark. You can start by repurposing existing materials but also give staff the opportunity to get involved. Curate content from other sources and try working with external creators who can offer a different perspective.
- You haven’t promoted the program internally – During your planning phase, make sure to decide how you will launch the program in your business, who is best placed to champion it and how employees will be trained. You could start by launching within one team and then expanding as adoption grows, or announce at an all-staff event with team leaders to support from the top down. If employees aren’t sure what’s required or how to do it, the program is bound to fizzle.
- You’re trying to control the process – The beauty of any advocacy initiative is the impact. Social platforms generally prioritise content by individuals over brand pages, so posts by employees can enjoy greater reach than those by the brand. More importantly, however, is that employee posts have greater cut through because they are more believable and authentic. Keep it on brand but don’t force your employees to copy every post word for word. Guide and let them personalise or risk them sounding like a cheesy infomercial.
- You’re relying too much on gamification – Gamifying the programs with leaderboards, rewards or badges is a great way to encourage adoption, but do not lean too heavily on it. You want your employees focused on their goals and responsibilities – not worrying about their ranking. Similarly, as advocacy programs should be voluntary, you should set clear expectations around how participation relates to their position and performance evaluations.
- You’re not tracking the results – This is critical to ensuring you hit your desired business goals set out in the beginning. There are a number of key metrics to consider and its good to include a mixture of quantity and quality measures. Look for the volume and frequency of posts as well as engagement measures such as shares, impressions, clicks, invites, joins and reactions. Also, you want to ensure you have a system to track leads and/or sales that result from the program to maximise your ROI.
When you give your employees a plan of attack and arm them with interesting content that adds value to them and their network, everyone stands to gain. If you make it easy for your employees and customers to promote you, you will build the authority and influence you need to stay ahead.T