In the beginning, logging into your employee advocacy program's dashboard most probably instilled a sense of pride and excitement. If six months down the line, that excitement has turned to dread, then here's how to change it around, quickly.
The reality is that many organisations are just at the beginning of their employee advocacy journey. In 2018 only 49% had adopted a formal program and, of those, only 66% had a clearly defined strategy/objective. (See Post Beyond’s 2018: The Year of Social Advocacy in the Workplace)
It's therefore only natural that many organisation's programs begin to falter or stall after the initial excitement and momentum have died down. There aren't usually many people to lean on or learn from and the desire to harness the power of employee voices ahead of the curve blindsides even the most experienced of advocacy managers.
We’ve seen many organisations turn their program around, from SMBs to multinational corporations. Here’s a brief overview of the 7 steps to reinvigorating your employee advocacy program.
Delivering targeted training is essential if you want to scale your EA program. Yet Altimeter's 2016 survey found that only 36% of organisations provide an employee advocacy training program at all and only 39% of employees have received feedback about their social media posts. (See: Tapping Into The Power of An Engaged Social Workforce.)
Every employee is different. They have their unique personalities, learning preferences, roles and goals. It's essential to understand what these are and deliver training that caters for these differences.
You should also target training according to where your employees are on their social media journey (there are 9 different stages of social media maturity).
At Tribal we have a training philosophy of "Train the masses, train the many, train the few". (You can find out more about this strategy in the video below and our eBook: How to reignite your employee advocacy program.)
Establish A Brand
Giving your program identity and personality can quickly raise its profile across the organisation and make it feel more "real". Treat it like you would with brand marketing and create a compelling brand name and logo that sells its vision and grabs attention.
Using an employee advocacy hashtag is also a recommendation: it helps employees identify with the brand. You don’t need to restrict yourself to #Lifeat[YourCompany] either - there are plenty of creative employee and playful advocacy hashtags around.
Here are a few examples you can use:
On the subject of hashtags, you also want to create a sense of fear of missing out (or #FOMO). Once you've got the essentials together, you should promote it across all your internal communications and generate a buzz for your brand.
Set Goals Based On Your Data
Your efforts to date have not gone in vain, despite how it may feel. With the data you've gained, you can now spot behaviour trends and blockages in your program and set realistic goals for the next stage.
Start with the low hanging fruit, as this should then help spur you on to tackle the bigger goals. For example, increasing user adoption can often be rectified relatively quickly through better communication of your program’s benefits and targeted training.
Another quick win is increasing engagement rates for your “social spammers” – they're already enthusiastic, so half of the battle has been won. All you need to do is help them realise that posting less can actually generate more engagement.
Longer-term goals should move away from vanity metrics towards those that will have a tangible difference to your ROI, such as website traffic, conversion rates and leads generated. In six months' time, this is what management and leadership will want to know.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is critical to getting your employee advocacy program back on the right track. You'll need to convince leadership that you've identified what went wrong and how you will fix it. Which is likely to include requesting extra budget for training or exploring ways to reallocate the existing budget. As always, the C-Suite will want evidence of impact.
If you're attempting to reignite your program, then the chances are that you've not communicated its value enough to management and employees.
Management and employees also need to understand what's in it for them, so take the time to understand what each department is trying to achieve and any typical employee engagement issues. Then communicate precisely how advocacy can help them achieve this.
Improve Your Onboarding
An effortless way to increase your employee advocacy program's success is to improve how you onboard any new users. You'll be starting with an advantage as you'll no longer be attempting to sign up employees that have no desire to join. You'll also understand how to sell the benefits so that their initial excitement is less likely to wane.
Now is also an excellent time to implement any practical training needs for navigating and using the tool and issues that have arisen with understanding your social media policy.
And instead of a wait-and-see approach to their performance, why not identify what their social media maturity level is at the outset? That way, you can deliver targeted training immediately and you (and they) will reap immediate benefits and encouragement?
Identify Who Owns What
One department must have overall ownership of your employee advocacy program so that decision-making, budgets and supplier relationships are controlled from one place. Otherwise, your strategy is likely to continue to be derailed by delays and issues.
The marketing department usually takes ownership in the beginning as they already control content marketing, influencer marketing and PR. At this stage, though, you should look to enlist volunteers for the following areas to ensure your program is a success:
Track And Measure Performance
You can't improve what you don't measure. If you've not already done so, it's time to look further than the headline dashboard metrics and ask whether your program is having any broader impact on the business.
It involves looking deeper than metrics such as likes and shares, focusing on the user and content performance trends and broader metrics such as website traffic and conversion rates. (And ultimately, establishing ROI through pipeline, leads and customer metrics).
Only 22% of employee advocacy programs report on ROI, according to Altimeter Group, Tapping Into The Power of An Engaged Social Workforce. But when you can do so after implementing these strategies, that’s when your question will not be “How can I reignite my employee program?” but “How do I scale my program’s success further?”