From finding your cadence, using social for learning and social in real-life vs online to the importance of DNI in employee advocacy - everything Danielle A. Jones-Hunte talks to us about in this LinkedIn Live talk is full of her energy and passion.
In our series of LinkedIn live videos on employee advocacy, our Tribal Chief, Sarah Goodall and Onalytica’s CEO, Tim William interview leading employee advocacy experts so that you can understand how to nurture and support your advocates (or even further your own social media journey).
In this blog, we’re recapping the main points raised by the Danielle A. Jones-Hunte, Global Head of Employee Advocacy, BP. So read on to discover her views on:
Or get every Linkedin Live video and summary points for the whole series.
Danielle’s employee advocacy journey so far:
- Finding your cadence
- Single-channel vs multi-channel
- Her source of inspiration & authenticity
- Sociable in real life vs social media butterflies
- Social media as a learning platform
- The intersection between employee advocacy, social media & DNI
- The burden of title
- The burden for employees
- Figuring out Clubhouse
- The importance of buyer personas
- Favourite recommended resources
- Maturity of different industries
Danielle’s Employee Advocacy Journey So Far
Although Danielle’s background in media might have made for an easier start, Danielle told us that it’s her passion and wish to keep things lively that’s really the starting place. As she says:
“If I’m shining, everyone’s going to shine.”
As the daughter of two full-time professionals that were early movers in the gig economy, it wasn’t surprising that she first began employee advocacy in her personal life and her own gig economy. She helped small brands (and entertainment brands in particular). start to connect with audiences. While working at a large financial company she suggested using social media to help deliver those strategies in a financial heavily-regulated environment was one thing, but she was having fun on the side.
Now, in her current role at BP:
“I'm helping to bring that passion into a company that's reinventing itself. We're reinventing the company, we're reimagining energy for the people in our products. And that means invigorating and exciting our people in new ways and helping them to express why they believe that we can do this. And helping them share with the world, their thoughts and beliefs about our company, our change journey. We’re early in that journey, but employee advocacy is at the core of who I am as a person and who we are as a company, because employee advocacy is part of BP’s strategy as well.”
Finding Your Cadence
Danielle believes that cadence is really important in a social media world:
“I'm a mom, I'm a wife and I have a full time professional job - doing this as a passion, like it's something I love to do, and that means I need to make sure that my energy sources stay. And that I recognise I have enough for three weeks of amazing content, and then I'll take a break and refuel.”
Single Channel Vs Multi-Channel
With Danielle’s mentees she speaks to them about the importance of being much more multi-channel until they find what's really working for them. But as LinkedIn works for her, that's pretty much her focus.
“I think it's just understanding your market, who you're talking to. It's like any other comms strategy: Where’s your audience?. How can you cut through?”
However, Danielle believes it’s useful to have a “home” for your content but use other channels to point to that. She recently cross-posted a LInkedIn post on leadership to Instagram and got positive engagement and resharing, making her think, “Huh, have I been missing a trick?”[Text Wrapping Break]
She’s seeing that with any robust company social media strategy too. Again, it’s important to not force employees to one channel as that’s not supportive of inclusion.
“A single channel is great, but don't be afraid to try other channels as well. That’s the great thing about social media - you can try and fail, especially in your personal life..”
Her Source Of Inspiration & Authenticity
Danielle told us that one of the questions that people always ask her is where she gets her inspiration to write.
“And that energy comes from talking to real people. So I think that distinguishes me from some others focused in this field. I'm not just an online junkie. My inspiration comes from real people.”
Whether it’s her mentee base, those that she coaches or friends in her network, she’s always asking what’s happening in their work life and what they wish was different. And she reads all her DMS. That’s what makes it authentic.
Sociable In Real Life Vs Social Media Butterflies
Tim shared that he prefers real life conversations but, while he doesn’t love online and social media, per se,he realised that it's just a medium to connect with real life people. So he wanted to know Danielle’s thoughts.[Text Wrapping Break]
Danielle told us that she’s sociable in real-life too and she’ll also use that for her content too but that “social media has a space for everyone” . Some people are stronger and more social on social media than in person because “sometimes it feels less intimidating than having that conversation”.
Danielle shared that people often say to her that they’re not “bubbly like you” but:
“I want people to remember you can be your authentic self. You can choose to write, you can choose to blog, or you can choose to TikTok dance if that’s you. ...I think that's the beautiful thing about social media, that's what I fell in love with,at university. Everybody can find their space on social media and everybody can build their personal brand to be powerful.
Whereas sometimes in real life, you can be judged or ostracised on certain things. And social media can give you space. I think that's just so powerful - for individuals, for brands, and for society. It can be really positive.”
As for Danielle, despite Tim’s feeling that she has lots of TikTok dancing videos, she laughingly told us that:
“Again it just depends: Where can you spark? Like, where can you really help wow your customers. But nobody’s going to be wowed by my Tik Tok dancing!”
Social Media As A Learning Platform
We wanted to know Danielle’s thoughts on social media as a learning platform rather than simply a broadcast platform.
Danielle’s response was certainly enthusiastic! She feels that online learning via social channels had a peak last year but it was “probably simmering before that”.
While there are formal channels that many of her employees access and she feels you shouldn’t inore- such as LInkedIn Learning and Coursera - many of her work colleagues and friends are going that way.
“I actually find this incredible value for just being active on the channel, and 1) observing what others are doing and 2) just consuming.”
Danielle thinks that any company that’s exploring employee advocacy can’t get into it without thinking about the social media elements of learning too.
She pointed to Microsoft sharing about their massive transformation through thought leadership articles-from a company that knows it all to wants to learn it all. It;s something they can learn from and BP is doing the same via their executives, who are helping people understand about the energy transition and net zero - what it is, why it matters.
There’s a lot more collaboration in the world we can learn from.
“People just share the stories that matter to them, they share the educational pieces that were inspirational to them, and that sharing can be really helpful for companies to harness and for individuals to harness for self and personal growth.”
Danielle believes that social media has made learning more accessible:
“And in the past, the access to that meant you had to have this pretty elite network or some really great scholarly articles subscriptions .You can still have both. But now just going and joining a LinkedIn group, or listening to clubhouse chats or tuning into the right Twitter spaces, you can access the best practices, without having to do as much legwork, or having as specific and elite networking as before.”
The Intersection Between Employee Advocacy, Social Media & DNI
Danielle has designed three frameworks for three different companies so we wanted to know her views on how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion intersects with social media and employee advocacy.
Danielle believes that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion should be part of any company’s DNA, and that she’s proud to say that it's increasingly a part of BPs which she’s really excited about. In her view,
“You cannot have an employee advocacy programme that is narrow only. Inclusion needs to be part of employee advocacy, and I would say part of your social media strategy if you want to be successful in that space.”
To start with, Daneille believes it’s important to look at and reflect on how your company - your culture - is embracing and celebrating our diversity, equity and inclusion.
For example, the George Floyd murder has been a great opportunity for companies and their employees to reflect on where they are on their journey towards being an inclusive company and stamping out racial injustice.
If you have an inclusive culture and leaders speak up about it, Danielle believes that can make employees feel more comfortable to do so - not just about DNI but your company’s achievements and journey too.
“It doesn't matter what employee advocacy programme you study or examine, they're going to tell you that you need to start from the inside. Your employees need to feel welcome, appreciated, valued before they start to go out there and speak about the company, especially in a global company.”
For Danielle, people expect her to speak about issues such as International Women's Day and speak about the role of the Caribbean woman and how that is changing and their journey, because that’s who she is as a person.
“It's credible, because they know this is important to Danielle the person. It's not just, she was asked to share a press release and pressed send.”
The Burden Of Title
Tim admitted that sometimes he can shy away from DNI issues because - even though he feels very passionate about diversity, equality and inclusion, he would fear saying the wrong terms. He can see how someone in a large company may feel that they’re not the right person to talk about it.
Danielle said that CEOS have “the burden of title” and need to get it right. But we're now seeing CEO after CEO just acknowledging. “Hey, like we are still learning, we have work to do in this space to become more inclusive.”
For Danielle, it starts with “the why” - like SImon Sinek talks about on TedX - instead of just doing it to tick a box. For example, when she talks about disability it matters to her because she has a cousin who was born with spina Bifida and understands the unique challenges.
You can say that you may not have the right term but recognise that you’re early on in your journey and working on it.
The Burden For Employees
But Danielle explained that for an employee, they’re not a company spokesperson unless their job description says that. They’re still required to get approval if they’re going to speak on a podcast.
When they are just posting on social media, that's why it's important to encourage employees regardless of the company to speak in the first person. That's what resonates more, that's why employee messages can reach up to 24 times the corporate message, because it's personalised and authentic.
“So while Tim, you still have the burden of title, many people just have the burden of seeing it go wrong or that burden of the fear of the unknown.” Not just about DNI but about something important to them.
For Danielle it’s about trust and helping empower employees:
“There’s no employee advocacy program without guardrails. There's no employee advocacy programme without best practice sharing. Help empower your employees and encourage them to remember what you're doing. Your social media is still ultimately your word and your views - make sure that’s known. And if you just speak about the company that you work for, speaking in a way, that would make the company proud and make you comfortable. If you can’t find that intersection, don’t do it, because then it won’t be authentic.”
Figuring Out Clubhouse
Clubhouse is such a hot new social channel that Sarah wanted to get Danielle’s opinion on it - because a lot of people will have heard of it and Twitter Spaces but wonder what it’s all about and what value they can get from it.
Danielle could only answer in her personal capacity because, like others, her company is still looking at it to figure out it’s right for them.
On a personal level, she finds Clubhouse an amazing way to learn and grow. From an employee advocacy perspective, she has some questions like many corporations do, as it's a bit more difficult to verify and authenticate if this person is truly Person X for Y company. But it’s a growing space and she’s excited to see how corporations jump on it and learn.
“But, if it's new, don't feel the need to have a full strategy there in the beginning. Go where your audience is. And then do so, if you have the space to dive in, just for trial and error.”
The Importance Of Buyer Personas
Danielle is very focused on LinkedIn personally. She writes about leadership change, agile leadership, helping leaders win through change, helping to empower teams.
So, to summarise her audience:
“It’s very easy to say: helping brands and individuals find their spark in a single sentence.”
Her network tends to be middle to senior management heavily skewed towards the energy and finance industry, with a large agile following. Her follower is largely a late 40 year old female. She might have been in a company for 10 to 12 years and is wondering about ways to be dynamic and try new things. They’re also quite interested in diversity and increasingly sustainability, as she shares on that.
‘But I do know who my people are, and I challenge people; “If you don't know who's following you, you're probably writing content that's not firing.”’
Favourite Recommended Resources
One of the questions from the audiences was which resources - such as books, best practices and guidelines we’d recommend for employee advocacy.
In terms of online learning for employee advocacy, one person she thinks is a great individual to follow for employee advocacy is William Arruda. He speaks a lot about personal branding. For example, he's written a recent article about personal branding for the employee over 50, which was useful for her thinking about her audience.
One of Danille’s favourite pieces, which she believes is an HBR 2017 article is about the power of employee advocacy. That's good.
“And use Google. Google is your best friend. And I think employee advocacy depending on your industry.”
If you’re in for a read, while not quite employee advocacy, two areas to focus on by way of reading for Danielle are:
Satya Nadella, Hit Refresh”
Danielle said this is a must read for anyone that's talking about doing things differently, on the importance of purpose.
“Purpose and employee advocacy go hand in hand and is how we are building our strategy at BP.”
“And follow Jay Shetty, if you're not following him. I love him,I love his writings. My goodness, his camera presence is stunning...Obviously that's not quite employee advocacy, But you need to get your mojo too, so make sure that you are filling your cup of employee advocacy.”
Sarah also shared her favourite people to follow in the space.
Michael Brito is good.
Danielle Guzman, Global Head of Social Media, Mercer
“Danielle Guzman's amazing. If you don't know Danielle Guzman Danielle, I think we need to bring the two Danielle's together!”
“There's quite a nice little community of real practitioners that understand not advocacy at the tool level but also about advocacy and its impact on brand storytelling and voices... There's Susan Emmerich.. She's a legend in this space. I think she started advocacy before it was even called advocacy at IBM.”
Tim was honest - he prefers to get the snippets of content:
“I would love to read lots of books. I'm actually not a big book reader but I consume a lot of the content from individuals on social all the time... I definitely follow those names that you mentioned, and just love picking up the snippets every single day from all the community.”
But as Danielle said to him, not everyone is a big readers and micro learning is big as well.
Another top tip from Danielle was to follow the CEO of choice from the company you admire. Leaders are kind of getting it right because they realise that they have to do something, that people are looking at them and it’s going to affect share price - certainly in Fortune 500 companies.
However, she cares as much about what employees on the frontline have to say as their CEOs.
Maturity Of Different Industries
Tim wanted to know whether she has any observations or whether she's done any analysis on the maturity of employee accuracy across, energy and finance compared to tech.
For Danielle, it’s purely observational but she believes the front of the house for employee advocacy was largely tech, because they were born in that time. But finance is more advanced than the energy industry (and she believes they’re very niche in that space at BP but it’s refreshing to see them waking up and doing this).
Fast moving consumer goods, on the other hand, she thinks comes at it very much sales angle. She sees this as a different genre of employee advocacy - sharing or blogging with the view of a sale vs helping people understand. It’s not employee advocacy as much as influencer strategy - which is a whole other chapter.
Danielle believes that an employee advocacy and influencer strategy in FMCG is very much closer to the scale and rate of change we saw in the tech industry, followed by finance who got really good at it coming out on the financial crisis and recognising they needed to speak more direct to customer,
Danielle told us that we’re seeing other industries, including her own in energy, waking up in this space. And with employees that are now graduating or coming out of high school, they’re expecting to use social media in daily life. If they want to find out about your company, printed magazines are so rare. Now it’s about what they’re seeing in the digital space.
“But it's such an exciting time to be in this space, such an exciting time to be an employee and a great time, I think, to be alive. As we celebrate diversity inclusion you see all those stories. I'm just loving some of the great things that social is doing right now.”
As much as we could have gone on forever with Danielle, due to her passion and energy, we had to draw our LinkedIn Live session to a close.
We hope that you found Danielle’s story and her tricks and tips as exciting and useful as we did.
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