Identify the right employee advocates to get the most out of your Employee Advocacy programme.
Great employee advocates are assets in your organisation. That’s why identifying the right employees to talk about your brand online is one of the important steps in any social media advocacy programme.
Social media advocacy has become a key mechanism in B2B marketing. Allowing employees to promote your brand, products and services could significantly grow your brand reach, shorten your sales cycle and improve employee engagement.
However, engaging on social media isn’t for every employee. Participation must be optional, empowering employees who have a combination of skill, interest and credibility.
Employee Advocates, where are you?
A good first step to selecting employee advocates is to develop a sound understanding of the appetite for social media participation within your organisation. One useful approach is to create a survey that asks employees key questions about their social media activity. The survey should find out some of the following things:
- Social media platforms used
- Frequency of use
- Mode of engagement i.e. whether they create, engage or just skim content
- Willingness to share content on behalf of your organisation
We advise you keep the survey anonymous, identifying respondents by department/level, e.g. sales, customer service or team leader, manager etc. and by office location for instance. You can create your own questions or use existing ones.
In this post, we highlight five ways to select employee advocates which could be based on the responses in your employee surveys:
1. Credibility and influence
Employees who already have a strong presence on social media could be highly valuable to your advocacy programme. Such employees are probably well respected by their peers, and regularly engage online in a professional way. Moreover, they are likely to be not just content sharers but also content creators. This is a highly valuable characteristic as research has shown only 1% of social media users will fall into this category.
2. Get senior leaders involved
You might find that the best advocates are your senior leaders. Whether you are bringing a new product to market or reinforcing your brand values, senior leaders as employee advocates could provide real impact online. Their participation also motivates employees, giving them role models that walk-the-talk. However, be mindful that getting senior leaders to actively engage online requires active support in areas such as time management.
3. Some functions have more appetite
When it comes to social media, you can assume that employees in marketing, sales and perhaps customer support services will have more of an interest in getting involved. It might therefore make sense to engage these departments as advocates, at least to get the programme started. Depending on your industry, employee advocates in technical functions might be extremely valuable to engage. But don’t worry if technical employees e.g. engineers aren’t keen. There are several ways employees can get involved in social media e.g. “listening” in on online customer conversations and finding solutions to their challenges.
4. Engage where your customers are
Sometimes, it will come down to location. If your business strategy is to increase market penetration in a specific region, it might make sense to get mass social media participation in that region. The web is global, but there is value in a customer knowing that they can contact an employee who has shared some useful information about a product – knowing that the employee is local, and more likely to be able to meet them in person to discuss their needs. This might be just what a customer needs to make a final decision on a purchase.
5. Train existing social media users
The minimum requirement for employee advocates is that they are social media users. Trying to convince employees to get on social media, solely for the purpose of becoming advocates is unlikely to work. But not any social media user will do. Ensure that the employees have appropriate guidelines and training for how you want them to conduct themselves on social media. Also, consider focusing on one platform at a time e.g. LinkedIn or Twitter, providing not just education around social media policies but education on the idiosyncrasies of each platform.
You don’t need an army of a 100 employees to begin your social media advocacy programme. Ultimately, you should start with a few early adopters – then grow!
Yekemi Otaru is managing director of YO! Marketing which is a marketing and strategy consultancy working at the interaction between business strategy, digital and marketing strategy. They work mainly in the B2B advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors. She is also the author of The Smart Sceptic's Guide to Social Media in Organisations. Connect with her on Twitter @yomarketingco.