I love digital for many reasons, but especially for the new innovations that arise on almost a daily basis. Can you imagine our lives without Amazon? How could we survive without the ability to have everything delivered right to our doorstep without stepping one foot out of our homes? How did we ever connect with people before Facebook existed? But despite the social nature of today's digital landscape, many of these innovations actually remove interactions with real people.
Now, one can argue that Facebook is the exception since we are actually "engaging" with real people or real brands online. But often the people who are the most active on Facebook or other social networks have very different personas in the real world. As studies have suggested, people who over share on social networks may actually have the most difficult time creating fulfilling, real-life relationships.
Why is this important is the context of employee advocacy? After talking with clients and reading numerous posts about how companies need to "enable their most social employees to become advocates for their brand", I find very little conversation about how to identify the RIGHT kinds of employees based on the goals of an employee advocacy program. As an organization, do you want your over sharers to be the voice of your brand? ARE your best employee advocates the most social?
That depends. Socially active employees may be your best advocates if they love their job, your products or services AND they exert a strong influence over their network. But influence and reach are not the same. Beyond just the numbers, an influential employee is someone who has the ability to spur someone into action - an action that is aligned to the goals of the program. These advocates are a trusted resource within their networks, but they may not have the largest network.
So, before you extend a blind invitation to anyone with over 500 friends on Facebook, consider the following framework for finding your best advocates:
Brand Objectives: What are you trying to achieve with your program overall? If you are a B2B company, and your main objective is social selling, you may want to look more closely at your sales team than your marketing team. Connections on Facebook may be irrelevant if your target audience is primarily on LinkedIn.
Employee Readiness: Are your employees willing to advocate for you? Identify a core group of employees that have the ability to influence your target customer group. In addition to their social prowess, assess their willingness and readiness to participate in a pilot program.
Leadership & Culture: Does your organization value the influence of social media? Can you easily identify a champion within your organization? If your organizational culture prevents your employees from even accessing social media sites at work, you'll have a more difficult time launching an employee advocacy program without the foundational elements ofgovernance and a social media policy.
Authentic Stories: Your employees don't want to be the voices of your corporate press releases. They will happily amplify, curate and even help to create stories that demonstrate the unique qualities of your brand. Give them the content, the authority and the training to position themselves as thought leaders in your industry.
And lastly, structure your program to help you achieve your goals. Technology can play an important role in helping you scale your program, but it should not be the driving force behind your program.
When given the tools, training and support to share their own experiences, employee advocates can become the trusted voices of your brand. Your path to business impact will be faster by identifying the right employees and following this framework to structure your program for long-term success.
If you're ready to take that first step to identify your influential employees, we can help you identify your organization's own map of influence. Let's talk!