Ever heard the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, neither was any successful employee advocacy program. Investing in an advocacy tool is the first step however, most businesses running advocacy programs are without the luxury of a full-time program manager.
Learning how to structure, engage and build a team is critical if you want to get your program off the ground and embedded into your organisation.
Advocacy Program Owner
You can’t run advocacy by committee. Someone needs to own and manage the program which includes decision making, budget management and supplier relationships. Years ago I wrote a post about who within a company leads advocacy programs internally but several years later, I’m starting to see a clear shift within B2B towards marketing ownership. I feel this is for several reasons;
- Marketing already publishes content to brand social channels so why not share it to employees too?
- Marketing measures digital impact across all channels so it makes sense to include employee contribution to those metrics.
- Marketing is typically responsible for content. As employee generated content grows, marketing can positively influence with keyword optimisation and publishing.
- Marketing traditionally owns influencer marketing and as more expert influencers emerge in the employee community it makes sense that they are nurtured with experience
Your administrators will be responsible for onboarding their teams into the program. Typically, your administrators might sit within specific functions or groups within the organisation e.g. HR, Pre-Sales, Industry, Communications.
They are responsible for the administrative tasks surrounding employee activation including training, access issues, license allocation etc. This isn’t a full-time role – estimate approx. 1-2 days per month. Consider identifying people that are geographically located around the world so you have time-zone cover.
Time required: 1-2 days per month
Most organisations will set up RSS feeds into their advocacy tool however, when we work with customers we often see member contributed content outperforming automated content.
Curators are employees who are responsible for contributing content to the platform so that your members can share it with their own social networks.
This role is a little more active than an Administrator, so you’ll need a several curators to scale your program effectively.
Each category in your platform should be publishing at least 1-3 new pieces of content per day in order to keep members engaged. Align your curator community to categories within your platform so that you can be sure you have balanced contributions.
You will find your curators in two places.
First, identify those employees within your company that are topic experts, especially those who have a presence on social media. They are likely to be reading and finding content already that could easily be added into your advocacy platform.
Second, dig deep into your data to find those members who are experiencing a good engagement/share ratio or click/share ratio. These people are mindfully sharing content they know their network is interested in. Help them develop into the next stage of their social maturity journey by helping them to find their own content and start contributing back into the platform.
Time required: 1-2 hours per week
Your members are the beating heart of your advocacy tool. However, too often tools are launched, members are onboarded and then left to figure out their own journey through experimentation. If you want your advocacy program to thrive and expand, you need to focus on enablement.
A huge and important part of successful advocacy programs is enablement and education beyond that of the tool itself. Utilise the data to identify behaviours and align your training accordingly.
Those new to the platform will want to know what’s in it for them, how much effort is required and how they can best optimise their social profiles for maximum impact. Dig into the data to identify those that joined in the last 6 months that have shared less than 10 times.
You will also have more mature members who are successfully using the platform on a regular basis. Consider approaching them with more advanced training on how to become an influencer, find their own content (curators) and create their own content. See next section.
Time required: 1 hour per week
Influencers are those within your organisation that are considered influential to your target buyer. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, buyers trust technical experts above any other source of information about your company.
They could be your technical experts, industry experts or even your leadership team. However, it’s important to recognise that your influencers may or may not be present in your advocacy platform.
Employees will get to a stage within their advocacy journey where they don’t want to share the same content that everyone else is sharing. This is when they’re likely to stop using the advocacy tool.
Identifying and addressing this behaviour early can support them (with training) and you (future curator & influencer).
Consider building an influencer marketing program around these specific individuals. Who are they? What are they passionate about? What are they sharing? Would they consider producing their own content e.g. blogs, videos? Which external influencers align to their interests?
Time required: 5-10 hours per month
So, as you can see, it takes a village to run an advocacy program well. Understanding the roles, the responsibilities and the time required is essential and can often be overlooked when launching a program for the first time.
If you have already launched a program, the data behind the dashboards can tell you a lot about how content is performing, how much content is duplicated, members who are over sharing, your future influencers, your emerging influencers etc. It might also provide the evidence you need to slim down your categories and focus on quality rather than quantity.
Building Your Employee Advocacy Dream Team
The next step is to outline your dream team. Map out the roles, add in names to the ones you have covered and identify the gaps. Pencil in names that you have identified in the data or within the organisation that you would like to approach.
Influential employees can move jobs leaving a gap in your advocacy performance. Mitigate this risk by building a pipeline of influencers that you constantly bring through the program.
One observation I have made over the years is that advocacy isn’t yet considered strategic enough to have a dedicated team behind it. Instead you’ll need to build a community of passionate contributors who volunteer their time because they’re interesting and motivated. Not easy.
At SAP, I used to run regular training webinars to digitally upskill my dedicated team of volunteers. We set up an expert social community internally where we would collectively service questions from employees. Meeting face-to-face is also a good idea if budget allows.
Supporting the development of your volunteers should be as much a priority for you as supporting the program – without their contributions the program won’t run efficiently.