Rolling out an employee advocacy program to an entire organization is a pretty daunting thought.
You have thousands of employees, spanning different continents and time zones, with different levels of access to technology. Someone at head office in the marketing department, for example, will see an employee advocacy program entirely differently than an employee who spends the majority of their time in front of customers.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And our awesome Customer Success team loves helping our program managers grow their programs to the size and structure that they envision.
Launching Your Employee Advocacy Program
As a few of our customers will tell you, Stephanie Malatesta is PostBeyond’s go-to girl for launching an employee advocacy solution. As a Customer Success Manager, she’s helped most of our program managers through the implementation process, and she consistently helps our customers make the absolute most of our platform. And she always brings homemade cookies into the office, so that’s a bonus.
Steph says that one of the best ways to ensure your employee advocacy solution launches successfully is to identify a savvy group of employees who would be naturally inclined toward sharing content.
Think of your employees who regularly attend events or conferences, share company updates on LinkedIn, or are already involved in employee engagement initiatives. If these employees are already active on social media, all the better!
These employees will be what we call your “brand champions” throughout the growth phase. They’re already excited about what’s happening at your company, so they’ll be eager to share your mission and vision outwardly. Some of our customers have a good sense of who their brand champions are beforehand, while some prefer to go ahead with a rollout and identify the champions based on the results.
Your brand champions will inspire other employees to get involved in the employee advocacy program, too. No matter if your rollout is 100 people or 10,000, identifying these brand champions is a crucial step in building excitement internally.
But the key to a great rollout is making the program as accessible as possible for your employees.
One of our customers, TIBCO, had this down pat. They provided extensive training materials (like videos and PDF documents) to their employees so onboarding went smoothly. Even better, they made all of these materials available on Google Drive, which their employees were already using. Employees were also able to sign on to the employee advocacy solution using their Google account.
“TIBCO integrated with existing processes and technologies wherever they could,” says Steph. “Their rollout was so successful because they made adoption as seamless as possible for their employees.”
Scaling Your Employee Advocacy Program
Once your employee advocacy solution launches successfully, and your social savvy teammates begin to see their initial success from being more socially active about the brand they love, it’s a great time to scale. The first reaction of launching an employee advocacy program is to wait and grow, but we think it’s best to strike while the iron is hot.
These are the key elements to growing the program now that you’ve got mobilizers:
- Offer even more channels or integrations where possible.
- Motivate the team through ongoing communication, awareness and recognition. Keep your team updated on how they’re performing.
If ongoing communication and awareness are critical to long-term engagement, then you’ll want to consider the following: how are you sharing success stories and results back to the team? Is it at an individual, team or company level? Who’s going to be communicating these successes?
About 6 months after the Corporate Communications team at TIBCO launched their employee advocacy program, they launched a monthly contest. Each month, a monthly email is sent out from the platform that:
- Recognizes and rewards the top 2 team members that hit the focus for the previous month
- Sets the focus for the next month around specific engagement metrics (ie. Comments, or reach)
- Provides clearly outlined steps to help achieve that monthly focus set out
In addition to ongoing communication, we believe that participation from leadership is another key to employee advocacy success. Although having those local mobilizers engaged is critical to continuously building buzz and buy-in, their leader needs to be just as active, which in our case means sharing great company news, events or thought leadership pieces to lead by example.
“Department leaders have the most influence on the success of an employee advocacy program,” Steph tells me. “It’s not enough to just agree to the program. When it comes to people’s personal networks, they need extra reassuring. If the Head of Sales explicitly communicates to their team how carving out time in their busy day for social impacts that individual, it will resonate. The communication efforts are genuine because the department leads understand their team’s needs so innately that they can clearly and quickly express the value and then lead by example of how easy it all is.”
Insight gathered from department managers is invaluable to have when shaping how the program should be positioned.
TIBCO’s program managers worked closely together to make sure that the program would be a hit with their sales team. The communications around the program were strategically crafted to ensure the highest rate of adoption.
Steph might have had something to do with it too 😉
Here are some things to keep in mind while communicating the program to your employees:
- Know your audience! What would make them want to participate?
- Prescriptive communication: your employees need to know what’s expected of them.
- Positioned properly and communicated by company leaders.
“The whole idea is to think of how your employees would want to use the platform. If you’re speaking to a Sales team – perhaps they’re always on the road, and a mobile app would be a huge selling point. Or perhaps they care most about managing their personal brand, which this program would help them do. Messaging will vary based on the results you’re seeking, but the important thing is to make it as appealing as possible to your team by considering their needs.”
If you’re an organization that’s using PostBeyond to communicate with teams that are separate from head office, for example, it makes more sense to position it to employees as an internal communications hub that will help them stay in the loop with company updates.
Ask yourself the following questions when scaling your program:
- Will this resonate with our employees?
- What would persuade them to get involved?
- How will this help us achieve our goals?
- Who’s communicating the plans and in what forum (video, live, in-person)?
- Is the program mandated?
And of course, always solicit feedback from your champions. They’ll be able to give you insight as to what parts of the program they liked best, and areas that may need improvement before a wide rollout.
Implementing an Employee Advocacy Solution At Your Enterprise
Getting your program off to a strong start takes a great deal of strategic planning. When you choose PostBeyond as your Employee Advocacy Solution, our Customer Success team is there to help every step of the way.
If you’d like more guidance on implementing your own solution, our 11 Steps to Enterprise Social Media Advocacy Guide is an awesome all-in-one guide that outlines the key steps to implementing a program. There you’ll find wisdom straight from our Customer Success team that will help you launch your program.
Download the guide here, and as always, feel free to share with your colleagues.
What do you think the biggest challenges are when scaling an employee advocacy program? How would you address these challenges?