Employee Advocacy In Action is an ongoing blog series featuring current clients and thought leaders. In this addition, Chris Seth, our Managing Director of Europe, discusses O2’s recent program launch with Kristian Lorenzon.
Start us off by describing a bit about your current role at O2. What does your typical day consist of?
I am Head of Social Media at O2 Telefónica UK, overseeing O2’s central social media strategy, governance and the delivery of commercial and customer engagement activities. There is no one day that is the same. Some are spent exploring the latest social innovations others working with our agencies on our next campaign to inspire O2 customers.
You’ve been knee deep in social media for many years on the brand side. Is the idea of activating employees a new concept for you personally?
I’ve been paying close attention to various employee advocacy programmes over the past few years. Mostly to understand how they were working, what the appetite is from employees and most importantly what kind of return businesses are seeing on their investments. Admittedly the best programmes were happening in the US, it isn’t until recently I’ve started to see notable activity in this area around Europe and the UK.
We see Employee Advocacy as an integral part of a cultural shift, as companies large and small transform into more social businesses. How social would you say O2 is as a company at this stage?
Over the past 2 years we have had ambitions to move from being just a social brand running external campaigns, with strong governance and service, to becoming a truly social business. To achieve this we have evolved our approach to Marcomms, putting customer engagement at the centre of our business plans and integrating social into many customer touch points. We also use advanced social mechanics to drive new revenue streams and listening to inform future products. Now, with an employee advocacy programme, I believe we have all the pillars of a truly social business.
Were there any specific goals for you and O2 as you began to formalize and launch this new program?
We are on a journey to becoming a digital services provider, so a key objective was to give our people the skills and means to share the wonderful products, services and skills they have. With such a large employee footprint and relatively complex structure we wanted to give everyone from sales teams, store staff to head office functions the ability to access approved O2 content to share with their wider networks and business contacts.
Since launch, several hundred employees have gotten involved. What has the feedback been internally at this stage?
Feedback has been generally very positive with most sighting the main benefit of having access to all O2 news and content in one easy to use place. Our stores and Business sales teams have proven to be our most active users sighting reasons that include: staying informed, sharing approved content, growing their own digital footprint and the ability the have a voice on behalf of the brand without risk of messing up.
Has anything surprised you in regards to employee reaction/participation with the program? Anything you weren’t expecting?
There has been a significant amount of content submitted by employees. The programme has uncovered many new sources of content from various corners of the business, opening up both the breadth of topics and depth of knowledge available for employees to share.
Our content has been focused on supporting our current business objectives, supporting the growth of our current digital products and services. We’ve created some great TV Ads and pieces of content using music and sports stars through our sponsorship assets which have performed very well. We’ve found that video, photos and infographics have been the most appealing posts for people to share.
We have a shared responsibility and culture within our organisation to meet our short term business objectives. This culture has been created by an on-going push from senior directors and signposting as to how people can help drive business performance in new ways outside their day-to-day roles. Once employees have joined the programme the points and reward system we created using tickets to our music venues as a small incentive has proven good at driving continued engagement.
At the end of the day I imagine you’re going to have to prove the value the program is generating. How are you measuring ROI at this stage, and for the long haul?
Our number one KPI right now is active usage of the programme, as long as this is going in the right direction then this will positively affect our wider KPIs of traffic, clicks and impressions on our content. In the long term we are looking to really start to attribute each action to an individual employee, we would love to eventually reward employees for sign-ups to our services for example.
What has your personal experience been with the program? Are you sharing to all of your channels? Any direct feedback from your followers/connections?
I am personally a very active user of the mobile app, I tend to share most content to my Twitter and LinkedIn channels as these represent my professional self. I personally love reading through the user generated articles, it is inspiring to see how much untapped knowledge there is within the business.
If you’re looking for more insights on Employee Advocacy please reach out to me directly or you might be interested in a recent eBook we published entitled 5 Steps to Launching an Employee Advocacy Program