If you don’t know what employee advocacy is, very simply it is using your employees social media to spread the company’s message. This has some great advantages if for example, you have 100,000 employees it enables you as a brand to get reach and amplification far greater then you can through the typical brand social media channels.
Also, if you look at the typical brand social media account the followers are often PR companies and suppliers. All are relevant to spread your message, but unlikely that these people will buy from you. Your employees are likely to be connected to people outside of your brand network so they are able to give you a “Heineken effect” and get to parts that your normal posts cannot reach.
But What Happens if I say Something Wrong on Social Media?
Social Media usage has followed on from one of the most draconian periods in corporate communications. I recall at one company I worked for, it was a disciplinary offence to talk to the press. You could only speak to the press if you were an official spokesperson and this required you to go on a one day training course and even then, what you could say was highly restricted.
The issue many companies grapple with his how to transform from controlling the message, to what looks like a free for all. Especially when often senior management think that social media is for kids and taking photos of your lunch.
The Change and how to Manage it – The Mistake
Organisations that see the benefit of employee advocacy usually see it as another way to broadcast a message.
Broadcast marketing started in the 1950s and the idea behind it is straight forward. You throw lots of mud at the wall and hope it sticks.
First people sent letters, then when email was invented, people blasted out emails and now we can be machined gunned on social media by brands telling us about their products. One of the “tricks” of broadcast is that if you are “touched 6 times” you are likely to buy. In my world, (and I don’t think I’m alone in this) I must buy little, because if you blast me you get blocked.
The other problem is that brands feel they have to control the message. The problem with this is two fold. The customer isn’t interested and doesn’t trust brands. All the consumer is interested in is themselves, we all want a highly personalised, if not totally personalised message. The second problem when brands control the message is that you get employees broadcast brand messages on social media. In a recent Altimeter report, only 8% of these messages got any engagement.
Why is engagement so low? We don’t think’ “Wow, Adam has shared a new white paper, that must be a great read”. If we see our friends posting their companies latest white paper, we think “of course they will post that, they work there and are biased” we then move on.
It’s 1950s broadcast marketing with a 21st century wrapper.
How you get Employee Advocacy to “Move the Needle”
Employee advocacy can be used to increase revenue, for competitive advantage and to enable you to recruit and maintain your top talent. It can be implemented, if we say social media is free (apart from your time) at probably lower cost that many of your existing marketing activities.
The Trick – We talk with clients all the time about employee advocacy and we see, because so many people have been told not to communicate with the outside world, pretty much 80% of the people are terrified about posting from a business perspective on social media.
Employee Advocacy requires you as an organisation to change and you need to manage that change.
Training is key, why do employees need a Personal Brand. Explain to them, not why you as a company want them to have one. (To distribute your content). But that they need to have one as it’s expected in the market today. In our training we shift the driver from the head to the heart.
To take all your employees along and not create a tribe of robots posting things that nobody reads, we recommend a mentoring program. Too many people sit in meetings and training courses on social media and say “I get it” when they don’t. They say this as it’s expected of them to say it.
Training courses equip people with the understanding of what a good behaviour looks like, but it won’t change that behaviour.
You can buy a gym membership, but you have to go to the gym to make a change. You also may need to change what you eat to actually move that needle. In that case downwards.