Yesterday, I attended and live tweeted a webinar, Train a Social Workforce: How AT&T Trained Thousands of Employee Advocates. #EngageU was the hashtag suggested to aggregate tweets. SocialChorus, an enterprise employee advocacy and engagement platform, hosted the webinar with Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nicole Alvino moderated. The guest speaker was Nolan Carleton, lead consultant of programs execution at AT&T, a SocialChorus client.
Centered on the benefits of empowering employees to become social storytellers, the webinar offered an image of leadership and workforce coordinating messaging to allow employees to engage with their network and feel comfortable openly discussing life at AT&T. When organizations urge employees participation in social media conversations within their social circles, trust and openness become associated with the organization’s brand and culture. This is advertising you cannot buy. It comes from those who have seen the Wizard behind the curtain. but still feel positively about the organization. This is an organization people can trust and want to work with and for.
— SocialChorus (@SocialChorus) April 15, 2015
This thinking is what is driving a movement to train employees how to engage in social media, everything from what is a hashtag, to how to tag someone in a post, to handling negative posts about the organization. As LinkedIn recently announced its new Elevate platform, it seems organizations are connecting the dots and finding ways to increase brand loyalty and awareness through their employees with a greater return than before available.
1. Incentives. For years, organizations have recognized the power of word of mouth and the employee network. Companies have shown this by tying a monetary value to candidate hires when an existing employee refers the new hire. But what incentive is an employee given to advocate or otherwise share content for their employer on social media? Do you create a tiered system tying the number of posts to paid time off, or shopping in the company rewards catalog? When does this cross into the realm of pay to play? Does it lose its authenticity?
2. Crisis Protocol. A crisis protocol in place with everyone thoroughly trained is essential. Social media is lightning quick, happening in seconds. It takes but a moment for someone to get caught saying something they didn’t mean to say or should not have said. How the crisis communications team handles this issue will mean the difference between the situation going away quietly or going viral.
3. Messaging. The messaging is the key to this entire program. Clear, concise, and easily cut into as little as 140 characters or less. But exhaustive enough not to sound evasive or like standard boilerplate.
All organizations have topics that must never be discussed publicly. For the average employee to have access to the list of “no-no” topics that could be photographed, copied, emailed, or otherwise shared is trust personified. But in this open, digital society, trust is non-negotiable. You cannot send someone out into the lion’s den unaware of what they may face. When employees are openly saying my employer is the best and this is why, gear up for the naysayer that finds them all for the sake of discrediting them or trying to get them to divulge confidential information. Arm them with the tools necessary to act quickly and decisively and it will pay off in dividends, keeping the company name out of the headlines for the wrong reasons; and, in it for the right ones.