Empowering your employees on social media is a great way to support your business growth but if done wrong, your employee advocacy program won’t generate the expected ROI. We share in this blog post 3 common missteps to avoid when it comes to employee advocacy.
Employee advocacy is on every marketing, internal communication and HR professional’s radar: more and more businesses are planning to launch an employee advocacy program as it is a great way to increase brand’s awareness, generate marketing qualified leads, build trust, improve internal communications and attract top talent to the company.
However, employee advocacy is neither a tool nor a solution, it’s an experience.
Your employees have so much to offer! They can help you with your employer branding efforts, share amazing ideas to improve the workplace, and be key contributors to your company culture!
If you want to take your business to the next level through employee advocacy, you have to do it right. And to help you with that, we’ve compiled in this blog post three mistakes that most businesses do when they launch and scale up an employee advocacy program and we explain how to avoid them:
Mistake #1: Launching a Program without Having a Proper Content Strategy
One of the first questions that should come to your mind when it comes to employee advocacy is “how do I drive engagement and adoption among employees?”. Unfortunately, many businesses skip this question while adoption is critical when it comes to implementing an employee advocacy program and making it a success. They directly jump to the practical aspects of the program: they wonder how many users they’re going to invite to the program, how to make it easy for employees to share content with their own networks, or how to generate reactions on social media without considering their employees’ user experience.
Gamification is a great way to make the program fun, but it won’t help you to drive adoption among your employees. The real engaging factor here is content. You’ve already heard or read somewhere that “content is king”? Well, it’s also true when it comes to employee advocacy!
Think about it: how can you expect from your employees to share content related to your business if the content is not helpful or interesting for them in the first place?
Your employees are dealing with information overload every day so make sure that the right content finds the right employee at the right time otherwise they won’t read it!
To get your employees excited about the program, share with them content that is relevant to their expertise and their role in the company. To do so, organize your content into groups and channels to make sure that employees get in their newsfeed only the content they are interested in and in the language(s) they speak.
Also, curate visual and behind-the-scenes content for your employee advocacy program: your employees won’t be excited about long activity reports (and who would be?). Instead, they’ll be more eager to share with their networks infographics, images, pictures, or posts written by their colleagues!
Mistake #2: Ignoring What's In It for the Employees
When it comes to employee advocacy, most businesses think of the marketing and HR benefits this strategy can bring in and they forget about their employees’ benefits and how employee advocacy can help them grow as professionals. It’s one of the worst employee advocacy mistakes you can ever make!
Every single employee advocacy program should be a win-win situation where both the company and the employees can benefit from. Your marketing goals may include for example increasing brand awareness, generating qualified leads, building brand trust, and increasing traffic to your website. From an HR perspective, you may decide to empower your employees on social media to reach the right talent and improve your candidate pool and from an internal communication perspective, you may implement an employee advocacy program to make it easy for your employees to keep up with the company news and to make sure everyone is aligned with the company’s values and vision.
But when you decide on the results you want to achieve with your employee advocacy program, include in those goals employees’ own professional development and growth. Indeed, employee advocacy is not only about the brand, it’s about your business and your employees!
Make sure that the program helps employees build their personal brand on social media. You can curate third-party content and educational materials such as articles, eBooks or blog posts from where employees can get best practices for being more efficient at what they do. For example, curate for your sales team eBooks written by experts on social selling best practices, share with your tech team articles on mobile UX design, and share with your marketing and communication teams blog posts and articles on the future of marketing.
Another way to make your program beneficial to your employees is to encourage them to learn from each other: invite employees to suggest content they find interesting or write their own posts in which ones they share with their colleagues their own best practices and key learnings. If some of your employees don’t feel comfortable with writing posts that are internally and externally shareable, you can set up workshops to train them and share writing tips. That way, you strengthen team spirit at your company, you encourage your employees to learn in a fun way, and you help them position themselves as industry experts!
According to Nicola Gormley, Digital Manager, Global Corporate Communications at CWT, “your employee advocacy program shouldn’t all be about pushing branded marketing messaging. Your content strategy will work best when there is a host of content curators, and this includes the ability for your users to suggest and share content that they come across and develop. At CWT, user-generated content counts for almost 40% of all content available for sharing and includes a combination of local company initiatives in local languages, industry-related external content, and informative/helpful content on new airline routes, baggage restrictions and other information employees' networks may be interested in".
Mistake #3: Not Measuring the Results Achieved with the Program
Some businesses forget to track and evaluate the results they’re achieving with their employee advocacy program while it’s the only way to know what’s working well, what doesn’t, and how to improve the program.
Being able to track which types of content your employees are interested in, which ones drive the most reactions on social media or how many employees are using the communication channel you’ve put in place is important to measure the effectiveness of your program!
Set clear objectives before launching your program and make sure that your communication channel allows you to get all the analytics you need to measure the success of your program in terms of marketing, HR and internal communications.
Nicola Gormley has launched and managed employee advocacy programs at three different companies. To her, being able to measure results is the best way to improve an employee advocacy program: "having a process in place to regularly review results and analytics helps the program manager see what content employees are sharing and what is resonating with their followers in terms of reactions and engagements. That way, the content strategy can be adapted to reflect what’s working best."
And to make your program even more engaging for your employees, make sure that the communication channel you're using for your program also includes personal analytics that employees can track to measure their own influence on social media. Nicola Gormley highlights that "individuals should be able to see how their sharing activity contributes to the overall results, and individuals and teams should get the recognition they deserve. Reviewing an individual’s results can also turn up some areas where a person may need additional support to make them a better social media user in general and improve how they use and engage with the content made available for sharing. Individual results will show how the improvements are benefitting the user too.”
As explained earlier, employee advocacy is a two-way street. It’s not all about the company, it’s also a great way to support employees’ personal brand and professional growth!
Are you interested in learning more on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to employee advocacy? Join our upcoming webinar “Learning from Three Employee Advocacy Programs” on April 24th! Nicola Gormley, Digital Manager, Global Corporate Communications at Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) will share her own experience and key learnings from implementing and managing employee advocacy programs at three different companies. Don’t wait anymore, save your seat now!