On the heels of my recent blog post, Webinar Report: Empowered Employees Build Brand Awareness, social media strategist, Neal Schaffer, favorited my blog post tweet and sent me his ebook, The Definitive Guide to Employee Advocacy Programs to read. A joint effort between Schaffer and PeopleLinx, which offers a social selling tool, the book outlines requirements for an effective employee advocacy program. Among those described, Schaffer discusses the three I’s as key to a successful program:
- Internal Support: where C-level executives lead by example, using social media to engage with followers and highlight firm successes.
Some high-ranking officers, broaden the scope of their message to discuss general leadership and other topics falling within their purview.
- Infrastructure: systems in place to support the effort, i.e., a social media policy and guidelines, training (with referential documentation), an easy process that allows company-approved content, and scalable process to assess KPIs on program effectiveness.
- Incentive: potential gifts and treats to offer employees for greatest participation in the program.
The next step for the organization is to create the employee messaging.
This is tricky because you don’t want the post to sound like an ad. Employees should be able to put the message into their own words. Recall, employee-shared content receives 7x the engagement of brand-shared content. To capitalize on this ratio, the messaging must sound authentic to the employee. Marketing must carefully craft the messaging so employees are willing to share it and do so with the authenticity needed for the plan to work.
My take on employee advocacy: As employee advocacy becomes the next wave of social media engagement for companies, marketers must craft the stories to make storytellers of the advocates. Have employees share what it’s like to work for the company, be surrounded by intelligent people and next generation technologies, and quality of life benefits: paid time off, sabbatical, volunteering opportunities, etc. Empowering employees to tell these stories will shift the layperson’s perception of the company. As recommendations and word-of-mouth are now the meter by which we, the public, decide to use our purchasing power, employees are ever important in this equation. Treat them well, allow them to tell their friends…Make employees your proponent.