How to launch an employee advocate programme
Employee advocacy is promotion of a company by its employees and is an effective way to drive change or build reputation from the inside out. Here are four ways to create an employee advocacy programme that really works.
1. Set your goals
What do you want your programme to achieve? Are you supporting a specific recruitment marketing campaign? You may be able to create fairly concrete KPIs around application metrics. Or is this more about raising the profile of your company as an employer of choice? Perhaps you want to position a particular business unit as a thought leader. Or ask your advocates to share some of the cultural aspects about working at your company.
Start small if there is no organised employee engagement programme in place already.
Think about setting a timeframe around the pilot programme: can you review success in three months time?
Develop a business plan to share with your leadership that includes plenty of case studies.
2. Find your advocates
This isn’t so daunting if you’ve identified a business area in which to trial the programme. So start by looking at your own social platforms to see which colleagues are most active, either professionally (on LinkedIn and Twitter, for example) or personally (Facebook). Ask leadership if they know of any employee bloggers; and suggest they become advocates themselves.
If you are using your programme to support a particular recruitment campaign or to sell your thought leadership, then contact people in that role or business unit at the moment.
Take time to craft the right messages to introduce potential advocates to the programme to answer the all-important ‘What’s in it for me?’ question.
Think about a briefing guide or training sessions for your advocates. Discussion groups/workshops are a good way to get started – this helps to encourage a sense of community from the outset. Emphasise the collective responsibility for success – this is not a top-down, prescriptive mandate. It’s something everyone can run at their own pace.
3. Plan your content
Start by revisiting your strategy. Could you create top-level content areas? For one client, we worked to create ‘spotlights’ on a series of different technologies they wanted to promote. For each spotlight, we provided between 3 and 6 pieces of content designed to support that topic – useful blogs to share, a new paper on the future of that technology, pictures of events going on to support the spotlight, biographies of expects on that technology in the business etc.
Encourage employee advocates themselves to create and share content with the group. You could send weekly reminders and incentivise people to contribute.
Try to find and create different types of content designed to be shared across different platforms; short pieces, longer blogs, images, videos etc.
Bear in mind the 4-1-1 plan (courtesy of the Content Marketing Institute): 4 x new pieces to share; 1 x self-serving piece; 1 x re-shared piece.
Champion your own content! Share whatever you create, externally and internally.
4. Review and recognise
Go back to your original goals and review success against those. We can help to create a dashboard to measure social engagement metrics – the likes, comments, shares etc. The quality of engagement the content receives is just as the quantity of content shared.
Recognise contributions by encouraging networking amongst your advocates.