The three key people to get inside your employee advocacy program - from someone who’s been on that lonely road before.
Before I worked agency-side, I was in charge of social media in-house at a few different companies - long before employee advocacy even became a real ‘thing’. But I was super passionate for it and took it as a personal challenge to get everyone on-board.
However, I was a one-man band and I struggled to get it off the ground. It’s a tough job trying to get people excited and engaged whilst you implement and test quite a new concept.
It’s only now I’m agency-side and I can see the same thing playing out with different clients, I’ve realised I needed more allies to buy into the mission and vision. Here are my essential three.
A Small Tribe Of Social Media Champions
Social media is pretty much embedded in our lives now. Regardless of where you are, you’ll have a few people using it effectively on a professional level. These are your Social Media Champions and the first people you need to get on-board.
Your Champions will have the enthusiasm to make the program work and will give you case studies to prove that it can drive revenue and deepen relationships with customers.
We always advocate starting small, usually with 4 or 5 Champions, then scaling up once you’ve fine-tuned your strategy. Observe what they’re already doing (there will always be something that is being done well, unique to your business), as this will help you shape your program alongside your knowledge and experience. Then use your Champions as enthusiastic guinea pigs whilst you refine your strategy.
You can then present a much better case to the CEO and gain the buy-in you need to roll it out further.
“Your job isn’t to ask me what’s keeping me up at night. It’s to tell me what should be.”
Chief Revenue Officer: The Sobering Truth: Why You Can’t Sell to C-Suite Executives
You need to gain buy-in from the C-Suite before rolling it out successfully to the wider organisation. If employees don’t see the C-Suite actively embracing employee advocacy themselves with an active presence on social media, it sends a message that they don’t see the value in it.
It’s the same for the metrics used to measure business performance. The C-Suite set this and if they don’t embrace digital metrics then it will just go back to being just another task on the list, instead of a way to work smarter, and will fail.
Remember your personas: the C-Suite respond well to strategic outcomes. They want to be alerted to threats that they haven’t foreseen - or opportunities that are hiding undetected. However, they require hard data and metrics to back this up.
You will only get buy-in if you can show an ROI, which will come after you’ve fine-tuned your strategy using your Champions. It doesn’t have to be increased revenue or pipeline now - it could be increased opportunities, connections and conversations around a particular account.
An External Resource To Lean On
As I said at the start, I know first-hand that it can be a lonely role for an employee advocacy manager. There are so many stakeholders to get on board, management to encourage and employees to enable. It can become quickly become draining.
There are also lots of processes to go through and lots of data to review on top of managing the tool and the social team. And as it’s a relatively new marketing concept, knowing how to implement it in practice can be hard. It’s not like there is a large community of employee advocacy managers to speak with!
I’d recommend that you join LinkedIn groups of like-minded individuals. My favourites are “Employee Advocacy” and Gamification, Customer Advocacy and Employee Engagement. It can be a great place to bounce ideas off each other.
However, if you want to run fast and run better without having to learn from many mistakes along the way, an employee advocacy program partner can help. They bring their knowledge of what’s working (and not) at similar companies, so they can help you develop an effective and adjustable plan.
They can also be a major ally in the fight to get the C-Suite on-board as they can demonstrate that they’ve helped generate significant ROI elsewhere.
I know I’d have wanted someone to lean on when I first started out.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and connect with our community of employee advocacy enthusiasts. And remember to keep yourself energised with any positive success stories you have along the way. They can keep you going when it all gets a little challenging. And make sure you share it with your own online tribe to inspire others :)