Since I’ve always argued strongly against any attempt to hijack advocacy and repurpose it as a marketing-communication channel, I found this response particularly galling. Where had we overstepped the mark? I scoured our launch materials for anything that smacked of opportunism – and failed to find it. So what went wrong?
In an earlier post, we learned how a hypothetical business leader set about wrecking an employee-advocacy program, and identified some of the common mistakes that organizations make. Six months on, there's been a change of heart, and we learn how the same business leader plans to overcome the biggest obstacle to success - getting employees onside.
Start a discussion about the pioneers of employee advocacy, and one organization that always gets a mention is IBM. There are plenty of great online examples of how IBM drives ROI through employee advocacy, so I was delighted when Amber Armstrong, Program Director of IBM’s Social Business Team, found time in her schedule to talk me through a recent, highly successful initiative.
Business leaders or organizational heads who have “employee advocacy” on their to-do lists for 2015 have no right to expect their people to welcome these initiatives with open arms. Effective change management is essential for success; people need to be convinced of the benefits before they commit to participating, and that means senior management setting the example.
Many in the business community still draw a line between employees’ personal use of their social-media accounts and any business-related activities. Nevertheless, social channels can remain marketing free, while still readily promoting good will through honest, authentic interactions – anyone remember PR before the Internet?
Employee advocacy isn’t new. Every workplace has its idiosyncrasies and, human nature being what it is, people are always ready to compare notes with family and friends. So where does the term ‘Employee Advocacy’ originate? Although the name is relatively new, the practice of employee advocacy goes back much further than you’d expect.
Toward the end of October 2014, employee advocacy came of age in the U.K. as I watched what I believe to be the first discussion on the topic featured on mainstream British television. This type of coverage can only help, and I trust that this interview signals a growing interest in the subject.
People often ask: “Advocacy – what’s in it for the employees?” And it’s a question that doesn’t have a unique answer. For some, an employee advocacy program offers an opportunity to develop a personal brand that outlives the original initiative; for others, becoming a subject-matter expert is a desirable and career-enhancing move.
This week, major international retailer and British market leader Tesco PLC revealed a $400-million black hole in its profit forecast. What I saw was a business that, in times of trouble, hasn’t had the public support of the people who matter most – its employees.