Social media is an important platform for companies to engage customers actively. However, relying on branded channels alone won’t cut it.
That’s why more and more marketers are tapping into the social networks of their own employees. What’s commonly known as employee advocacy is the ability to boost your brand visibility on social media through your own employees.
We sat down (virtually) to discuss why it’s time companies flip the light switch on for employee advocacy. It was a lively conversation filled with best practices, predictions, and many questions asked by our attendees live.
In short, if you’re on the cusp of launching an employee advocacy program, this webinar is for you. In this blog, we recap all of the key highlights we discussed.
Key Takeaway #1: Walk Before You Run With Employee Advocacy
Most marketers are already dabbling in some form of employee advocacy. We polled our attendees on where they are in their employee advocacy journey and 60% said answered, “We email and message our employees to share content currently.” At the same time, the second-largest group was running an initial pilot to see the response.
Not surprisingly, this is how John and Tom both started enabling employees to share social media content. Whether it’s a word document, spreadsheet, email newsletter, Slack, or Microsoft Teams message, this is where many marketers start.
There are some negatives about emailing and messaging employees to share. For one, it’s quite a tedious and time-consuming process. Secondly, it’s tough to scale because there’s a lot of friction between employees and social media.
The benefit is that you’ll get a real understanding of how employee advocacy will work for your organization. You’ll be able to gauge which employees are your social rockstars. You’ll also get an understanding of what content resonates most with your employees and audience.
Key Takeaway #2: Employees Aren’t Comfortable Using Social Media Professionally
In John’s experience, the biggest barrier he’s had is that employees don’t know what to share. For example, some employees have had the experience of sharing on social media but realizing it was a big no-no. These employees have grown in hesitation over time and avoid social sharing altogether. There’s a risk of putting something out on social media out of context or not factual.
We asked our audience, “what was the biggest resistance to employee advocacy?” 38% of our attendees said that employees aren’t comfortable with social media, while 23% said their organization doesn’t have social media guidelines in place.
Although there’s hesitation from employees, this shouldn’t be a show stopper.
John said that an employee advocacy platform and training would hopefully take away that barrier and hesitation. He said, “We have training sessions within our organization where we go through some of the best practices of social media and there’s never a shortage of do not’s that you put out there just to raise awareness of things that you cannot be doing.”
For Tom, getting employee adoption was one of the biggest challenges he’s faced. He said, “getting people to start a new routine, use a new tool to do something that they’re not used to doing. Getting that adoption obviously is one of the challenges.” Tom recommends consistent communication with employees and to ensure you’re on all channels of communication. At Treasure Data, they use Slack to communicate with employees and to distribute content.
Key Takeaway #3: Align Employee Advocacy With Departmental Goals
Since employee advocacy can impact multiple departments across the organization, it’s important to align with all the teams.
Tom’s advice is to effectively communicate the value and how employee advocacy fits within their goals. He said, “For each department, you actually need kind of an individualized approach. For sales, it’s the social selling, getting buy-in on the social selling approach and how this fits with that. With recruiting, it’s about getting better talent, having better visibility for our brand so that people will see that we’re hiring and we’ve got a lot going on. For marketing, it’s helping to amplify all of our other marketing campaigns.”
Tom believes it’s the overall vision and value that aligns all the different departments and individual employees.
We are a very large yet very reserved company. Governance is a real concern for executive leadership. There is a view that we would be turning our employees loose with great risks to our brand. How do you overcome this?
Tom Treanor: Because the platform allows you to specify with flexibility, how people communicate and what people communicate, you can set some guard rails. You can also do training to say what you shouldn’t be changing. You could set up a program where you’ve shown what content to share, you’ve given the message, and then you can tell them how far they can go with customization.
John Rocker: We have training within our organization where we go through some of the best practices of social media and there’s never a shortage of do not’s that you put out there to raise awareness of things that you cannot be doing. And then again, a great thing about PostBeyond, we have our social media policy tacked right into the platform, so if anyone ever has any questions or are very hesitant, should I be posting something, should I not, that policy is right there spelled out for them. So they can find it and go through everything and get some of their questions answered or of course, they can reach out to it to get some more of that information.
Do you give employees a time or schedule and an opportunity to post on behalf of the company they work for? Also, the comments or engagement they get from posting.
John Rocker: With an employee advocacy program, usually it’s just dropping the content right within the platform and so it will go out on the day that you’re hoping to have that content hit and will be available for all users to share.
I think it’s a great push for them to get in the habit of checking LinkedIn daily if they don’t do that already. Go through and look at your notifications. See if people respond to the posts you put out because you obviously don’t want to have somebody really enjoying an article that you just placed on your feed. They have a question or want to follow up and make a point, but you’re not there for two weeks taking a look at it, so it loses that momentum.
And if it may be a potential lead that could lead to new business, it’s definitely something that you don’t want to miss out on.
Tom Treanor: Hopefully, it doesn’t take that much time and the tools allowing you often to schedule in advance so you could do a few posts that will go out throughout the week for you on your behalf in LinkedIn or Twitter or other places at one sitting if you want, so you can even minimize the amount of time you spend there and engaging on social media in general, like if people respond in LinkedIn and you need to comment again, that’s also… has to fit into their normal day job.
What percent of the content you add is curated content from third sources or third-party sources?
Tom Treanor: First, I think it’s 50/50 but the caveat is some portion of that 50 from third parties includes our mentions. So that’s supporting the PR efforts that I mentioned before or the bylines. So it’s about 50/50 but the other 50 is partially bylines and things like that.
John Rocker: I would say probably about 60/40 with third party content. We have no shortage of content coming out from us as an organization, blog, webinars, events, etc. I always try to get a lot of our team members to get more in sharing some more of that overarching overall type of thought leadership pieces. Or just things about specific technologies or industries or things like company cultures or career advice type things.
In case you’d like to watch a replay of the webinar, click here for the full recording. To learn more about employee advocacy, download out blueprint below.