Running an Employee Advocacy Program That Works

Before reading this article, understand that I’m a huge fan of employee advocacy programs and that I see the value in them working without a doubt. I share this information to educate you, and to share my business experiences as to what I’ve found to work best in terms of launching an employee advocacy program that delivers engagement, as well as results. With that being said, enjoy the content, and whether you reach out to me, or whether you choose to administer an employee advocacy program yourself, just take action and do it. There is no better time than right now.

Low participation kills return on investment.

On paper, investing in an employee advocacy program, such as what LinkedIn offers through their LinkedIn Elevate platform, or what SproutSocial offers through their Bambu platform, looks and sounds great, but in reality, the ROI that you’re looking to ultimately achieve, may not be reached, and there’s one big reason why, which I’ll share below.

The reason why employee advocacy programs don’t deliver desired results, is because just because you give employees the opportunity to participate, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to take action and do so on a daily, or weekly basis. The fact is, people forget, and remembering to log into an employee advocacy program, to find something to share, and then to actually share it, is not going to be a priority for most employees, so it’s most likely not going to get done.

When employees don’t participate in the employee advocacy program that you set up for them, you end up with another big monthly software licensing payment, rolled out to a hundred people, only to have ten people, that we’re actually sharing your company information all along in the first place, to be using the new employee advocacy program software. This just doesn’t make too much financial sense at all, but what you can do instead, is actually administer the employee advocacy program for the employee.

Participation must be voluntary.

Now, you may be saying, “What in the world, that’s invasion of privacy, or my employees will never let us setup, administer, and deliver content to their social media channels for them,” but it makes sense when you think about it for a few minutes, especially if the employee is invested in increasing their online exposure. Currently, companies drive email marketing efforts, via Marketo, Pardot, MailChimp, as well as various other CRM driven email marketing platforms, from personal employee email addresses, and the employees haven’t opted-in to the program, and they never complain or say a word about it, so it’s really just a transition point in time as to the way employees communicate with their prospects and customers.

The way we did business a few years ago, and the way we communicate, is way different today, than it used to be, and if you don’t get on board as a company, you’re going to lose ground real quick to companies that are investing time and money into having their employees communicate online, via social media, in real time. Sales opportunities are all over the place online, people asking questions, people engaging on content, and so on, and if you’re not at the party, you’re going to miss opportunities. The one point that I’d stress, is taking the time to educate employees on the how-to’s of social media engagement. There’s a fine line between oversharing, under sharing, and certain ways to act online, that need to be learned to have the all-around most employee success online.

Now, let me share the benefits for both parties, meaning from the employee side, as well as the employer side, as to the benefits of having an employee advocacy program automatically run for everyone that opts-in to the program. Opt-in being the key word here. This must be a choice for the employee, not a mandate.

The benefits for an employee that opts-in to participate in an employee advocacy program are as follows.

Gain authority.
The employee really has nothing to lose, and everything to gain. By having their social media feeds filled with helpful, useful, timely, and engaging market segment specific business information, it’s going to help position them as the authoritative resource in their niche.

Increase engagement.
Everything online conversation starts with an initial engagement, and if an employee is never sharing anything, their engagement level is going to be obsolete. Simply by having helpful content being posted to the employees feed, they’ll have an exponential number of opportunities to interact and engage with new contacts online.

Grow relationships.
Online conversations lead to new relationships, and new relationships, lead to new business opportunities, and new business opportunities lead to new sales opportunities, and new sales opportunities lead to new referrals, and the benefits just keep going on and on. The potential for growth is unlimited using social media.

The benefits for an employer that provides an employee advocacy program are as follows.

Branded content.
Maintaining consistent branding messages across social media channels is key to not giving people mixed signals about what the brand provides, as well as what it stands for in terms of its mission statement. If a brand spends $20k making a short video, only to never have it shared out, it really doesn’t make much sense.

Legal safety.
With social media, people are quick to share what they see, what they feel, and what they know, but the inherent danger in an employee shooting from the hip with non-approved content, is that the information they share may affect a customer, an investor, or even another co-worker. It’s a very serious matter in today’s busy online environment.

Constant exposure.
There’s nothing better than consistent content being shared, from various different people, at different times of the day, every day, on your social media channels. Having this type of daily exposure is key to a brands long-term success. The brands that are most fluid, and quick to react to real-time events, will helpful market segment driving information, definitely have a distinct advantage over those brands that don’t.

Like with all great relationships, both parties must mutually benefit, and by introducing an opt-in employee advocacy program at your business, you’ll be doing all the hard work for the employee, by keeping their social media feed filled with engaging, timely, helpful, and useful content, which shares out at strategic times during the day when their audience is most likely to be online to view the content. The employee will be responsible for replying to comments and engaging with people that have taken the time to like, comment, or reshare, what they’ve shared, thus keeping the personalized touch of social media and what it’s all about, which is actively engaging in conversation. It makes total sense when you think about it from a business point of view.

At this point, now that you’re more educated on the value of employee advocacy programs, you may have some interest in having an outsourced professional social media company, setup, administer, and deliver your business a highly customized program specifically for your market segment. If so, reach out to me and I’ll put you in touch with the proper companies, or people and resources, to get the job done right, and under budget. Outsourcing your employee advocacy program is a turnkey solution, that takes minimal investment, and delivers a strong return. In business, this is exactly what you’re looking for, so it’s a perfect fit, regardless of whether you’re a startup company, or an established Fortune 100 company, it works.