The Right Equation to Scale
Social technology has fundamentally changed the way employees externally communicate and engage with customers. When organizations decide to transform the way they engage their employees on social media – it’s often an inflection point for the company’s growth.
Most organizations start with a key group of employees who are known influencers, movers and shakers and are social-savvy. This segment of employees is often keen on being early adopters for employee advocacy. However, after an initial program starts to grow from hundreds to thousands of employees, the next question is, “how do we scale this program?”
As a Customer Success Manager who works largely with enterprise programs, I absolutely love this question. While there is hard work to be done, the results can be outstanding across the organization. This is the approach we took with a major multi-national consulting firm who has now rolled out to thousands of users across 25 countries and lines of business.
Let’s look at several critical factors for taking an advocacy program from launch to scale:
Throughout all of our best-in-class programs, there’s one underlying factor they all share in common: executive buy-in. Regardless of company size or industry, leadership buy-in and support remains consistent across all program. Without the necessary executive support, employee advocacy programs often run the risk of failure or hit a roadblock for scale.
My advice is to ensure the program is visible to your executives or senior leaders and to train them on the platform. Leadership support is critical for the program but their ongoing participation often gets noticed by employees. The more active senior leaders are, the more likely their employees are to follow suit. That way, these leaders will truly understand the program’s value proposition so they can answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” when their employees ask.
Bottom line: when you scale the program across a new user group in a new office, region, or line of business, onboard the new group’s respective executives before the rest of the team. Seeing active senior leaders will jumpstart usage from your employees.
Establish Strong Program Administrators
Launching and overseeing an advocacy program takes strategic thinkers who excel at creating content and understanding their audience. Establishing the right program administrators in each area you rollout to is critical to the ongoing success of the program.
Each region, office or line of business will require their own content, and the right program administrator will have insight into how they operate and what they need to be successful advocates. Communication is key – hold global, regional, departmental or administrator meetings and use them as a forum to share best practices, ask questions, and even discuss potential product enhancement suggestions for your vendor.
Set Goals and Hold your Team(s) Accountable
Establishing goals and KPIs at the global level is a critical first step that should happen before any program is launched. It is important to then communicate those across your regions, offices or lines of business so each administrator is fully versed – they need to be creating content that ladders up to these metrics!
Some examples our current enterprise programs focus on include:
- Total Number of Shares,
- External Engagement (how many people are liking, commenting and clicking on content once it is shared?),
- Monthly Active Users,
- Monthly Active Sharers,
- Total Reach
We also recommend you measure how it will impact your business goals, for example, are you trying to increase time spent on the website by sending higher quality traffic through employee referrals? The centralized core team should hold all business segments accountable to specific goals as well. For example, are the admins creating enough content each week to keep the attention of users?
With the majority of vendors, you will have a Quarterly Business Review with your CSM where these metrics will be reviewed and benchmarked on an ongoing basis.
Set up your “Base Camp”
It is important to have a centralized core team when launching an employee advocacy program to multiple business segments such as regions, offices, or lines of business. These are the leaders that can oversee the entire architecture of the program and be a singular point of contact that all multiple business segments roll up to.
Depending on the size of your program, we recommend a base camp of at least three to five people who represent various facets of the business. Based on our experience with enterprise customers, we recommend the base camp include people with a vested interest in the global success of your program, which may be from Corporate Communications, Marketing or Sales.
Along with your Customer Success Manager (CSM), this will be key for a smooth rollout to a multitude of new groups. Having a team in place that can deliver best practices, launch strategy, as well as a communications plan to different business segments will ensure that the organization stays on the same page every step of the way.
Empower your Employees
At PostBeyond, our vision is “to unlock the potential for influence within everyone.” By empowering employees globally, we get to see this vision come to life in 20+ countries. We unlock their potential by providing a simple platform that makes sharing content easy and fast.
Our programs make this possible by creating amazing content and constantly communicating the importance of each employee’s (read: influencers) contribution. Advocacy begins and ends with your employees, so it is paramount to see that they have the resources they need and the empowerment to unlock their potential for influence.
Consistent and Accessible Training
One of the toughest tasks in scaling your advocacy program is simply booking time in people’s calendars to train them. As you roll out to more users in different offices across different time zones, it becomes harder and harder to accommodate training sessions.
You should begin by leaning on that sector’s administrator(s) – provide them with previous training decks and recordings of your past sessions. This will allow them to pass those resources along to those who cannot make the live sessions and can be an important asset for newly hired employees as they are added to the platform. Be sure to always take advantage of your vendor’s resources as well!
Here at PostBeyond, we have a constantly updated Online Help Center. We also hold monthly general training webinars that require no RSVP. Any new or existing user can jump on for an introduction or refresh on how to do things.
Engage through Gamification/Incentivization
Successful programs consistently engage, recognize and reward their most active employees. The most notable way is to run friendly competitions within the program. By rewarding employees for their participation, it provides employees with an incentive and helps acknowledge top performers.
You don’t need to only reward the top few users in your program, there are multiple ways to engage the entire team. Some examples from customers include contests such as:
- Beginner’s Luck where any new user who logs in and shares content will be eligible to win
- Most Improved which celebrates the employee who has made a significant incremental improvement in their performance.
- Most Engagement
- Top Of The Leadership which highlights the employee who ranks number one on the leaderboard for a respective timeframe.
These are great ways to get everyone involved on a consistent basis.
Strong Vendor Partnership
Lastly, when it comes to how successfully you scale your advocacy program, the vendor you choose will certainly play a large factor in this. Like any buyer, shop around and do your research! You’ll need a partner that knows the space, is experienced, genuine, and understands the work that is required in scaling a program, be it from 50-100 users or 1,000-10,0000+.