Talking Employee Advocacy at the Brand Innovators Social Media & Emerging Technology Summit.
If you were in San Francisco this past Thursday, hopefully you attended the Brand Innovators Social Media and Emerging Technology Summit. If not, you missed brand leaders discussing how they’re leveraging social media. You also missed the panel discussion, Get a Digital Marketing Quick Win With Employee Advocacy.
As the panel moderator I was joined by Michelle Killebrew, Program Director, Digital Marketing Transformation – Cloud at IBM; Tony Obregon, Global Social Media Lead at Avanade; and Scott Burke, Director of Brand Development at Mortar.
Everyone shared stories about how Employee Advocacy is shaping their digital transformations. They all agreed that Employee Advocacy has become an integral part of a successful social media strategy. Since they’re all Dynamic Signal clients, we couldn’t be more excited to hear their thoughts.
Here are some snapshots for those who couldn’t be there:
What was your “ah-ha” moment with Employee Advocacy?
IBM’s “ah-ha” moment happened in 2006 before Twitter even existed. Through our online collaboration solution “Connections”, IBM globally crowdsourced ideas from employees to create and publish social guidelines online. Employees felt empowered to engage in a way they never had before by sharing content and ideas on behalf of the company.
Brand chatter on social was low when I started at Avanade, especially from our own employees. Knowing that 90% of people trust their own personal connections over brands (Edelman Trust Barometer) made it a no-brainer that we needed to get our employees talking about the great things we do for our clients. One of the best ways to do that is with Dynamic Signal, it provides a platform that makes it easy for employees to share content, helping us increase our brand awareness.
Our “ah-ha” moment was for our clients. Brands often ignore the internal element of harnessing the strength of their employees. It’s essential for any brand to get your employees on board for backing up the message you’re putting out there, otherwise you’re essentially wasting your money.
What’s been the business impact of Employee Advocacy?
Led by my friend and colleague Amber Armstrong, we first used Dynamic Signal just over a year ago at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit. We then expanded the program to our #NewWayToWork campaign, which went viral. The results were beyond our expectations – we generated 56,000 product sign-ups for Verse in the first two weeks. Employees generated over 150 million impressions and 600,000 clicks, which is worth the equivalent of approximately $2 million in paid media. That’s the power of thousands of employees sharing on social.
Mortar saw a 20x increase in social reach and 10,000 impressions per month upon launching our internal program with 100% of our employees (25) sharing. Our clients can use VoiceStorm as an internal newsletter with a share button.
We look at qualitative metrics as well as quantitative data with our Employee Advocacy program and building relationships and driving social influencer engagement is an important area for us. We want to make sure our employees, especially our executives, are connecting with the right people to build and strengthen key relationships that impact our business.
How do you get over the fear of social?
I started my Employee Advocacy program with our senior leaders, many of whom were not on social yet. To launch the program, I created a strategic framework that mapped industry topics and trends to their expertise and areas of interest, which gave them a platform to focus on and the confidence to engage freely. For the broader employee base, user guides, training and education is key. Additionally, soften language in your social media policy to encourage people, not scare them.
Start with a small group of passionate employees, and expand once you have a fine-tuned program. To have a successful program, there needs to be a culture of social sharing as well as consistent content.
We set social guidelines globally to determine how employees should interact on social. Our employees feel empowered because they know where the boundaries are and can comfortably share information about the company. Today, our training for new users on Dynamic Signal’s VoiceStorm only takes 10-15 minutes.
What were your challenges in starting an Employee Advocacy program?
Our challenge was authenticity – we didn’t want thousands of employees tweeting the same message at a big conference because it looks like spam. We decided we were only going to populate hashtags in the employee comment section of Dynamic Signal’s platform. This way, employees were forced to add their own personalized message, because who wants to send a message out with just a hashtag?
For our clients, social media is only as good as the content provided. We call it the “content monster.” Where does it come from? Who manages it? Clients can be easily overwhelmed to curate great content. We believe marketing needs to be responsible for Employee Advocacy.For clients, social is only as good as the content provided. We call it the 'content monster.' - @ScottKenada Click To Tweet
What’s your advice to start and scale a successful program?
Make it relevant – use a variety of content so that it resonates with employees by creating different content for different groups within the organization. Another great thing was gamification within the platform to drive adoption.
Create an easy 3 or 4 step process that allows employees to take incremental advances so they feel comfortable every step of the way. As we scale, gamification elements allow our employees to compete against each other in monthly competitions that keep the program fun and motivate those who are still on the fence about participating.
You’re all doing something in social media, but doing a terrible job managing it. For your content strategy, a good place to start is adopting a 4-1-1 strategy. That’s 4 thought leadership content pieces to 1 about the product/service and 1 promotional piece. It’s important to keep the right balance for your employees to become thought leaders.Think of #EmployeeAdvocacy as another earned media channel, & employees as influencers. - @ScottKenada Click To Tweet
Start your digital transformation
88% of companies are going through digital marketing transformations. IBM, Avanade, and Mortar (and their clients) are just some of those adapting to the digital customer mindset. Michelle, Tony and Scott would be the first to tell you – it’s not an easy transformation. However, Employee Advocacy is logical first step, one that pays off with increased brand awareness, employee engagement and revenue.
I hope this recap gave you insights about the value of Employee Advocacy. Get started with your Employee Advocacy program – everybody else is.