Nowadays, it is critical for companies to stay up-to-date with all the changes brought by new technologies in order to retain their position in the market. The impressive development of social media has pushed companies to adapt themselves to this new trend by having a more social-oriented culture.
Social tools have brought real marketing, sales and HR advantages to companies that can be boosted with the help of employees. Indeed, employees have become valuable actors within their companies who can increasingly enhance business results through social media. In fact, social media has given companies the opportunity to encourage employees to communicate about their brand(s). This is what we call employee advocacy. For more information about employee advocacy, read the article Your employees, your best brand ambassadors.
Several steps must be taken to launch this kind of program:
1. Implement your strategy
To launch an employee advocacy program, you need to develop a consistent plan and strategy to ensure the viability of your project.
Start by setting specific and measurable goals (e.g. increase brand awareness and visibility, bring more traffic to the website, gain more social media followers, gain new leads, decrease marketing costs, …) and KPIs that you want to achieve in order to clearly identify what you have to ask of your employees.
Decide how you will introduce the program to your employees, how you will manage it and what exactly you will ask of them. Also define what communication channel you will use to inform employees about the program and what communication channel(s) you will use to communicate to your ambassadors once the program is launched.
On the one hand, you can decide to start the program with a limited number of employees first in order to see how it goes before rolling it out to the entire company. It is naturally easier to train and communicate with a smaller group to start. If you decide to begin with a small group, carefully select your ambassadors by picking employees who are already active on social media and who are usually highly motivated to help the company. On the other hand, if you don’t want to leave anyone out, you can also decide to roll it out to everyone, in which case the program will need to be a bit more structured.
Your advocacy program should be voluntary. Forcing people to advocate for your company on social media, especially if they don’t want to, won’t bring positive results. If they do it of their own choice and not by force, you will see much better results.
2. Make your company culture more social media oriented
To correctly launch your program, ensure that your company has a culture built on transparency, freedom and trust. Employees must feel trusted and encouraged to act as company and brand ambassadors on social media. This will make them more confident in their company-related social media activity. The company has to make clear that it is totally supportive of their social media actions and that employees can do it during their working hours.
3. Put someone in charge of the program
For each project, it is always important to have one single point of contact (SPOC) to know who to address questions and requests to. So make at least one person the program supervisor to ensure the program goes well and to provide content employees can share. This person will be in charge of making sure that each member is making his/her contribution. Additionally, she/he will give feedback, encourage members and be available for questions and suggestions employees might have.
4. Motivate your employees to take part
Advocacy works definitely best when employees are motivated, so explain how they will benefit from their social media actions. Mention them that they can boost their professional reputation, which is a very important element nowadays.
In addition, tell them how their social media actions will also contribute to the company’s business results. Showing that their social media activities are valuable to the company can motivate them to engage with the program. Present this new project by being highly positive and convincing. The more employees you enlist, the more significant the impact on your results will be.
Even if your program is already well developed, don’t hesitate to ask your employees to help improve it. Engaging employees in the process will motivate them even more.
“Our employees end up growing their following because they’re posting content that’s fresh, interesting, and relevant. They’re posting great content, and getting more followers, so they want to post more content. It’s a win-win.” — Amy Heiss from Dell
5. Train your employees
Organize trainings to explain exactly what you expect from your employees and be sure they fully understand what to do. Give them guidelines explaining how they should behave on social media with the company’s messages to ensure consistency across all channels, protect the company’s reputation and minimize risks. For the best results, include some tips to maximize the benefit they provide, for instance what are the best days and times to share, social media best practices and how they should respond to comments.
To better connect with their consumers, Adobe developed a program, called “Social Shift”, to educate its employees to become brand ambassadors through social media guidelines and best practices #adobelife.
Be sure all ambassadors have very good knowledge of your products and services and are aware of developments with your company and brand(s) so they can properly communicate about them.
“We regularly communicate with our employees to make sure they all understand what is going on within our brand.” — Becky Gloyne from Nokia
All employees should be able to join the program even if they don’t know how to use social media. To ensure that advocating for your company is easy for everyone, train them on social media as well.
When each step has been completed, you are ready to start the program. The most difficult part can then start: you have to make this program a success. Just putting everything in place is not enough, even if you have highly motivated ambassadors. You need to monitor the program to let it grow and develop it well in order to benefit as much as possible from it.