Last week, we discussed the first step to adopting a successful employee advocacy program – setting your program goals. After identifying your program goals, and how those will align with your business strategy, you’re ready for the next step.
Whether your advocacy program is supporting an enterprise or mid-market sized company, there are often specific audiences you want to segment out in order to optimize your results.
Who should be part of your initial program?
Everyone right? Wrong! Start small and scale instead. Start with:
a) your most socially active employees
b) your most interested employees
c) your executive team IF they are already active on social
Getting social-savvy employees is important for the initial program launch. They’re confident and experienced on social and will drive adoption quickly. However, the super social-savvy can also be the most vocal so watch that they are not intimidating to the broader set of participants. For best results, have a range of social-savvy and novice social users.
A key part of a program launch is to encourage employees to raise their hands if they are interested in participating, even if they aren’t social-savvy. Don’t underestimate enthusiasm, but do be aware that you’ll have to prepare them for what it entails to actually engage on social media.
Executives are great to lead by example, but this is a double-edged sword. If a socially active exec jumps on early they can often drive adoption for all. But if they’re not active and do nothing to enhance your program, they won’t help in converting the masses.
How do you identify the employee segments?
Often clients will think they know who the most social employees are, and will proceed with a broad blanket email. Stop. A best practice is to take a quick survey of who is actually active on social. A survey will identify the audience segments outlined above and help employees self-select for the program. You can ask how socially active people are for business or personal. It’s a great benchmark to measure success later, and will also give you insight on areas to focus on for your training plan later. For example, do you need Social Media 101 training?
Like Dynamic Signal client, Pitney Bowes, you can use social listening tools that you already have to identify who your top social-savvy people are, and what type of content is effective today. You can also use tools like BuzzSumo to see how social your influencers are, how they impact your brand, and their overall ranking.
How do you get the first set of people signed up and engaged?
This is an initiative like any other at your company so it’s all about creating visibility and interest through hype. Imagine you’re Don King promoting the next big boxing match. You need the fighter, the promoters and everyone else excited and motivated. Here are some best practices:
- Get Ready to Rumble. During the training phase, provide use cases you’ve picked and Social Media 101 training in addition to educating your employees on company social policies. Be sure to add a how-to on becoming a true advocate for the company.
- Round 1. Once you kick-off your program, the first 30 days is a typical honeymoon period, where employees are naturally pumped up about the program. This is where you have to keep the community engaged:
- Provide monthly educational content articles
- Show top participants (get a friendly competitive spirit going)
- Show overall results for the brand’s number of impressions, shares, etc.
- Share employee-specific testimonials and golden nuggets of success
- Round 5. After a few rounds (90 days), look to expand to new teams by function, division and geography. If execs haven’t been involved, now is the time to get them in. There’s no reason to wait this long, unless your intention was to keep things on the down low and prove the model’s success before asking for exec sponsorship.
What insights have you learned from experience and what are the pitfalls to avoid for audience identification?
- Don’t go too broad too quickly with the number of employees in the initial launch. Recognize your demographic and goals. Signing everyone up on day 1 may sound good, but slow and steady wins the race. You want socially active employees who will increase engagement and sharing over time. This can create excitement for other employees when they join the program.
- Drive participation in stages – don’t stop promoting after 30 days otherwise employees will lose interest and disengage. Again, who you choose to participate in the first stage is key to avoiding any crash and burn scenarios.
- Manage the super savvy social users. These can be great advocates for your program but it’s all about managing expectations. This experienced group may think your one program is a cure all. For example, an employee may use half a dozen different social tools today and your program will replace them all right? Nope. Set correct expectations about what the goals of your employee advocacy program are and are not and how it can help even social-savvy users.
- Get your content strategy in order and map it to the demographics of your audience. If your use case is social selling, think about what the sales teams will want to receive and share vs the marketing teams.
Some best practices you can use to communicate with the new community:
- Regular Updates – these should be used weekly, informing members of any campaign details, campaign highlights and providing guidance throughout the program. (Tip: advocates feel most empowered when they are in the know!)
- Broadcasts in Email – these are email notifications that should be used as a means to promote high-level campaign details and posts.
- Posts – these are created for specific campaigns and are ideal for members wanting more information and details about the program. Redirect users to an external site or redirect them to an internal hub page.
- Static Pages – these allow you the flexibility to build a committed stand-alone page on your hub showcasing information about your campaign.
- Directional Imagery – populate your site with one or two images directing members to a specific site for more information, and/or requesting their participation.
When you take the time to strategically align specific audiences with program goals, that’s when you can really harness the power of your brand advocates. Check out Part 3 of our 5 Steps to Employee Advocacy Success blog series, where we deliver insights on how to plan and manage the foundation of your program.