This is a case study of an Employee Advocacy platform implemented recently at a professional services firm with a pan-African operation.
The firm in question has a highly successful email channel with thousands of executive decision makers at target clients subscribed to receive introductions to their thought leadership on a weekly basis. The email campaigns are managed through a reputable email service provider and emails are personalised (i.e. emails are sent from a known person and email address and emails begin with “Dear FIRST NAME”).
Email subscribers are categorised by industry and management category and email campaigns are filtered as such. After each email campaign, analytics are run to identify who clicked on links to access their thought leadership and relevant persons are notified so they may follow up.
Regular email communication keeps the firm top-of-mind and increases the propensity for subscribers to contact them if they need assistance. In terms of conversion, they have received many requests for meetings and requests for proposals through this channel. Over the past five years, they have generated $20m/annum in revenues as a result of offline engagement initiated through email communication.
Democratisation of email channel to staff members
As the personalised email communication channel worked so well, they thought it would be beneficial for their business if they democratise the personalised email communication channel to each of their staff members (i.e. provide each staff member with a platform to easily share thought leadership and engage with their personal network). This would enable the firm to complement their Business-to-Business communication channels with a Person-to-Person communication channel.
The business challenges which they believed the Employee Advocacy platform would solve were as follows
1. Widely dispersed articles
The firm has great thought leadership produced locally but also available on country-specific websites, blogs and media sites. It was a challenge for individual staff members to monitor all these global sites to identify suitable content to share with their respective connections.
2. Fear of social media
Many staff members still had an abject fear of sharing information on a publicly accessible platform. They were aware of recently published horror stories of individuals who tweeted the wrong thing and got into loads of trouble as a result.
3. Staff members had no time
When staff members were asked why they are not using social media to share content, many said that they did not have time. Many staff members who were encouraged to share thought leadership were also operational and were on projects and being billed for their time.
4. Need for simplicity
Many staff members, even though tech-savvy, reported that they had difficulty identifying relevant content, deciding on suitable text for their social media update and usage of the social sharing tools on the different sites.
Choosing an appropriate Employee Advocacy platform
Having considered the afore-mentioned business challenges, the firm looked to the market for a suitable Employee Advocacy platform. They settled for a platform that was already being used by one of their global member firms and other prominent global technology companies.
Once implemented the firm started posting content on the Employee Advocacy platform. The platform enabled them to cherry pick great content from the firm’s local and global websites and present them on one platform, categorised accordingly, for registered users to share with their respective personal connections.
The platform addressed their business challenges mentioned above, i.e.
- Widely dispersed articles – Articles are categorised and presented on one platform
- Fear of social media – The platform prepopulates social media updates for the staff members
- Staff members had no time – Quick and easy exercise to scan content and two clicks to share. Users are notified when new content is available
- Need for simplicity – The platform is easy to access and hardly any navigation is required
Encouraging participation on the platform
Running concurrently with the posting of content on the platform, the firm ran a campaign to encourage staff members to register and participate on the Employee Advocacy platform. This required a combination of education and instilling a will and eagerness to share content. As the platform has an individual scoring and gaming component, they also ran a competition which generated competitiveness.
Results after five months
Five months after the launch of the Employee Advocacy platform, the firm were already able to present these great results:
- 1,459 registered users on the platform which represented 25% of their African work force
- 256 articles published on the platform. They aimed to post one article per day
- Their registered users had shared 25,830 times with their respective networks
- Staff members’ shares generated 40,893 clicks from their social media connections
- 90,000,000 impressions were created on social media
- 36% of their registered users shared an article at least once
- 37% of their users viewed content in the last 30 days
- The combined reach of their participating users was 633,417
- They estimated earned media value to be around $80,000
As the platform was implemented for their staff members’ convenience to share thought leadership, they asked staff members for feedback. Here are some of the responses:
- “I do regularly expand my network and get retweets from articles shared. I use it regularly, I find it easy and effective and I think it is beneficial in allowing us to share valuable information easily”
- “I find it very useful and user friendly. I really am a fan of the platform and often download things to give to clients or share on social media”
- “The response has been great. Every post has averaged between 160 and 200 views within days of posting. This being only the first level connection views (not counting second tier and so forth)”
- “The mobile app is very user friendly and easy accessible and thus I can read up on the industry while waiting in the reception area of my client. I also like sending my clients links to the articles and they have given us great feedback on how relevant the info is and how useful they find the platform to be”
- “I really do believe that it is a very effective way for “staying front-of-mind” of our clients, business connections and the business community at large. It definitely increases the awareness and prominence of our firm. I especially like the ease of posting thought ware on LinkedIn through both my notebook and mobile device”
- “I normally share articles with my network through social media (mainly Twitter and LinkedIn). As the Account Manager for xxxxxxx, I have a good understanding of my client’s core business practices and business requirements and by sharing relevant articles, via email to the CIO of xxxxxxx, opened up an opportunity. A proposal was submitted and accepted by the client”
Research has shown that the more targeted, relevant and personalised the communication with prospects, the better the results. Regular interaction and sharing the right thought leadership establishes you as a thought leader, you are viewed as a trusted advisor, you stay top of mind and there is a good chance you will be contacted should your assistance or a proposal be required.
What are your thoughts? Please contact me if you have any questions or require a more detailed discussion on:
- Setting your social selling strategy
- Building your online personal brand
- Growing your referral network
- Mastering content marketing
- Establishing communication channels
This article originated on LinkedIn Pulse