For years we heard "this is the year of mobile." This is the year for employee advocacy.We spent years getting fans and likes on our brands' Facebook pages to build relationships and share content. Facebook has turned into an advertising play so a workaround is needed. That workaround is employee advocacy.
A company's best brand builders, content creators and salespeople are the employees so why not have them share content about the brands' they know and love to their social networks? If you need a better reason - A Nielsen 2013 study reported 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a product when they hear from someone they trust.
If it sounds overwhelming, keep this in mind - 135 advocates have more reach than 1,000,000 Facebook fans. Start with a pilot advocacy program. Your checklist includes 1) Making sure your company's social media guidelines are updated and allow for employees to post in social 2)Having enough content that employees would actually want to share in their own social networks 3) Getting approval/support from the executive team which should include legal, H.R. and P.R. 4) Paying for a tool to manage and measure engagement 5) Getting a few prizes to reward your pilot employees for participating and providing feedback.
In order for the program to be effective, employees have to see value in the program such as discovering new content, building their own audience with the content they are sharing, or getting prizes and recognition to make their efforts feel worthwhile.
A pilot program will take 4-6 weeks to build out and gain approval from IT, legal, H.R. and the powers that be. Start with about 40 participants and grow that number to 80 while you monitor content, evaluate training needs and understand what kind of content your audience likes to share.
Measure your success with metrics. The best way to gain approval to go beyond a pilot is by showing your success. By using a tool with a decent dashboard you will easily be able to see how many employees engaged, the number of engagements from advocates and their audiences, audience reach, and best performing content. Your earned media value should equal two to three times the cost of the tool.
Once you have enough data prepare to open the advocacy program to all employees. And then the real recruiting and motivating begins. We'll save that for another post.
It's all very doable and there are rewards for both the company and the employees.