7 Steps to Foster Employee Advocacy in Your Company

7 Steps to Foster Employee Advocacy in Your Company

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One of the best ways to amplify corporate marketing is by encouraging employees to become advocates.

 

Employee advocacy turns a single voice – usually the marketing department’s – into an army of content creators and sharers who magnify the volume and reach of your company’s message in manifold ways.

 

In his article, Beyond Engagement: Unleashing the Power of Employee Advocacy, writer Mike Bailey said, “The people with the potential to be your best advocates already work for you, and in today’s connected world, the most powerful way to bring them into play is via social media. On average, when employees share something – anything – with their social networks, each one reaches 20 times more people than a typical brand sharing with the same number of followers.”

 

Foster an Advocacy Culture

 

As exciting as this sounds, getting employees already burdened by a full day of work to embrace the advocacy concept takes effort. Some employees will participate simply because they believe in the company’s mission, but most will require incentives before latching on.

 

Example: Bizzuka Key Influencers Campaign

 

Bizzuka created a campaign whose primary objective was to foster and promote a strong internal group of social media ambassadors.

 

Called the Bizzuka Key Influencer Campaign, it was a response to the growing trend of companies who encourage key personnel within their organization to join in on relevant discussions taking place throughout social media. The strategy was designed to humanize public communication channels and overcome the restraints placeed on corporate accounts in terms of limiting the number of fans reached.

 

“Our goal was to increase the number of brand influencers within our own organization and support their online engagement through providing relevant content, as well as coaching on the latest social media tools available to them,” said Bizzuka marketing coordinator Nick Mouledous.

 

Employee Advocacy Program Components

 

According to Mike Bailey, seven components are needed to run an effective advocacy program.

 

1. Leadership

 

The company’s leadership must embrace the idea and lead by precept and example. Otherwise, the program is doomed from the start, said Bailey.

 

2. Objectives

 

In whatever form it takes, the employee advocacy program must support company objectives.

 

3. Champions

 

Don’t try to recruit everyone at the same time. Roll out the program in waves. First, find those within the company who are its most enthusiastic supporters and get them on board. Their actions will influence fence sitters to join in.

 

4. Training & Governance

 

Training on program objectives, governance policies, and the technologies used is necessary to keep the program from becoming little more than an exercise in cat herding.

 

5. Content Creation

 

“Some organizations share existing content, either their own or third-party media, which they curate, typically on some form of content hub,” said Bailey. However, the real power of employee advocacy is expressed not by sharing content but creating it, and one of the best ways to do this is through the use of blogs.

 

Two companies that exemplify the efficacy of this medium are Indium and Intel.

 

Indium, a manufacturer of electronic assembly products since 1934, has a compendium of blogs written by employees – mostly engineers within the company – that cover industry-related topics, Indium products, and other company information. Thought leadership expressed through the blogging program has led to Indium becoming the “go to” company in its industry.

 

Similarly, Intel’s popular Inside Scoop blog is run by a group of employees who talk about Intel products, provide tech tips, and discuss technology news. Written for the average consumer, it is one part of a more extensive blogging program that the company has conducted for several years.

Corporate blog
Source: Sean R. Nicholson

 

A post on the Wordstream company blog provides practical insights into how to get employees engaged in creating content:

 

Make It Easy For Them

 

Feeding company bloggers with topics to write about helps them bypass the brainstorming part, said the blog.

 

A few years ago Bizzuka started a multi-contributor blog called User Friendly Thinking where we solicited content from several departments. While each department participated, our development team really embraced the idea.

 

The department head took it upon himself to assign a blog post topic to each team member, and established a posting schedule detailing by when they were to have their posts written. He then personally reviewed each submission before passing it along to the blog editor for publishing.

His willingness to provide direction helped the development team become the blogs most active participants.

 

Offer Incentives

 

Unless your employees can expect some benefit from blogging, it’s going to be much harder to get them involved. Think of ways to incentivize them both tangibly and intangibly. Money often works, as do gift cards, time off from work, and public recognition. You could also make blogging part of the employee’s job description.

 

Flatter Their Expertise

 

Most of your employees won’t be proficient writers, so allow them to blog about topics where they have expertise. Not only will this help improve the quality of the content, but allows them to demonstrate their expertise, as well.

 

Turn Work They’ve Already Done Into Content

 

Employees can repurpose content they have already created for use in blog posts, case studies, PPT slide decks, white papers, and other formats. There’s no need to make them start from scratch, said Wordstream.

 

Some additional items to consider when starting a multi-author blog include:

 

Provide clear writing guidelines. This applies to style, post length, and formatting. Also, provide guidelines designed to protect employee bloggers and the company from liability or a social media backlash. In order to participate as a blogger, the employee must sign a document evidencing that he or she agrees with the guidelines.

 

Establish a content calendar. In order to keep blogging efforts on track, a content calendar built around major themes and topics is necessary.

 

Find a managing editor. Someone is going to have to oversee this operation; preferably a person with writing and editing experience. That could be an employee in the marketing communications department or a third-party resource.

 

Link content to Google authorship. Make sure each blogger has a Google+ page and linked the blog to their profile. This will help in search returns.

 

6. Content Sharing

 

Most of your employees already participate in one or more social networks, so encourage them to like the company Facebook page, follow the company page on LinkedIn, Twitter account, YouTube channel, and so on. When they see a post or status update appear in their newsfeed, they can share with friends and followers, thus amplifying the company’s voice.

 

7. Measurement

 

“If you don’t intend to measure the effectiveness of your employee advocacy program, don’t bother starting it,” said Bailey.

 

Important metrics to track include:

 

 

  • How many times people share content;
  • How many clicks-throughs are generated from downstream networks;
  • How mangy of those clicks convert into leads and sales.

 

 

Be sure that the metrics you choose tie back into the marketing objectives you started with.

 

You may want to consider using employee advocacy platforms like Addvocate, Expion, and Social Chorus. Not only do they make content creation and sharing easy but facilitates tracking of important metrics, as well.

 

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