Employee Evangelism & Advocacy
Recently, I was fortunate to spend the day working with a group of coworkers and consultants led by Charlene Li from Altimeter/Prophet on formulating ideas and actions around a social employee evangelism program. It was a fantastic day of learning and sharing with a wide range of socially proficient participants (I believe we had the highest and lowest denominators) but everyone was passionate about our company and giving our employees the ability to have an even louder voice.
What stood out the most in my mind by the end of the day is that being an advocate for the company you work for is, in 2016, inherently social. Word of mouth does still exist; however, the digital world has made everything smaller. We can reach further, faster than ever before. Interacting online and through social networks is today’s word of mouth. If your business strives to reach consumers beyond a localized market, you must expand your reach digitally, and digital is social.
A few keys to ensuring your workforce is enabled to advocate for your company include:
- Having a policy that endorses employees speaking about the company. The mantra over the past five years or so has been you must have a social media policy that is at its core restrictive to employees sharing about work. The most obvious offense in those policies are the guidelines to clearly state that your “posts do not reflect the views of your company and are your own.” Well, that just doesn’t mesh with being an advocate for your company.
- Gaining leadership support and participation. Top leaders have to be on board and they have to demonstrate some level of proficiency at engaging on social networks. If your leaders won’t do it, a very large portion of your employee population won’t either. Authenticity is key in having senior leaders be successful on social channels.
- Training employees on not only how to share and advocate socially but also what to share and when to advocate. Most companies’ workforces are multigenerational with four or five generations active. Just because they are on Facebook — although many of them are not — doesn’t mean they know how to effectively use social media tools. A formal training program that is updated regularly is necessary to ensure that employees are equipped to be social evangelist.
- Providing simple and intuitive supporting technology that makes it easy for employees to be social. You can support employee advocacy efforts by making it easy for them to know what to share and giving them easy mechanisms to do so. Whether stories on your internal news site, job postings, or press releases, give your employees a clear, simple way to share information with their networks.
Employees can be a great source to help enrich conversations about your company. Engaged employees are a powerful network of fans, brand champions, and advocates. Enabling them to reach their social networks with the right communications at the right time can leverage their influence for the greater good of the company. If you aren’t thinking about how to formalize and empower this resource, you are already behind!