With any emerging marketing trend or concept there are risks involved. Just as Mike Bailey points out in his recent post
, marketers today are well aware of the potential hazards when it comes to trying out new things. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not saying employee advocacy is too risky and you should avoid it. In fact, I'm about to tell you the exact opposite.
The truth is, if you don't take some chances and experiment you will be left behind in a cloud of virtual marketing dust. After all, often times the most engaging marketing campaigns are fresh ideas that utilize new technologies and concepts as a vehicle to show consumers something special and unique. Meaning, you don't want to get stuck in a rut.
While I won't tell you to avoid employee advocacy because of the risks, I will advise marketers to proceed with caution. What I mean by that is, don't be foolish. These are your employees, they mean everything to your company and your culture. Do not, under any circumstance, take this responsibility lightly. For an employee advocacy program to succeed it needs to be thoroughly defined, and executed with precision from start to finish. The last thing you want to do is spin up a program that is underdeveloped and have it fall flat on its face. It takes the proper time, resources, and strategic partners to pull it off. All of these are attainable, but sometimes aren't baked in for an employee focused program like they may be for other more traditional digital marketing campaigns like paid or social.
The concept of employee advocacy is still very new to most marketers. But, there are thought leaders and resources (like Social Media Today) that can fill in the gap for those needing to learn the basics. Once familiar, a logical next step is to find a strategic partner that can assist with building out your program by defining goals and guidelines that align with your company's culture. It's critical to find a resource (this could be a consultant, agency, or vendor) that has a vast understanding and real world experience planning, launching and managing employee specific initiatives. Technology can solve for a lot, but without a truly knowledgeable partner with hands on experience you will likely find yourself searching for answers at some point in the set up process.
Which employees do I start with? How do I introduce the program to them? What types of content should I distribute to them? Do I need to train employees on the basics?
These are all questions I've recently heard marketers asking, and they are all completely valid. You should be addressing all of these and more to ensure you have explored all of your options and have the current processes in place prior to launch.
So, don't be tentative and let other marketers pass you by, but be smart and use caution when integrating your employees into the marketing mix. They are your voice and can greatly impact the way others see your company.