According to Influence magazine, when Salesforce was contemplating the ¢2.9 billion acquisition of Demandware, one of the key points of data (alongside revenues and profit margins) was a ‘95% approval rating’ for Demandware’s CEO taken from Glassdoor. Now whether you are a fan of Glassdoor or not, this is a significant shift in the importance of employee advocacy. Salesforce were effectively giving weight to the opinions of Demandware employees (past and present) in their $multi-billion acquisition.
The sale went through, and the CEO made a fair amount of cash – and all this despite years of losses!
We were also at a networking event this week where a fast-growing technology business (it has gone from 30 to 100 people in just a few years) talked about its investment in community management as the principal driver in attracting and recruiting talent. They brought in a community manager, created events to bring together the right people to share insights and stories (no mention ever of recruitment) and nurtured the community. It has transformed their recruitment – people are queuing up to join them.
These are two great examples of advocacy – and how it can be achieved in very different ways. But the principle is the same – your people sharing stories and engaging with others.
So what’s the secret to great employee advocacy?
Think audience – too often, companies look at employee advocacy simply as social media posts and reviews. This may be a key component of your strategy, but what social media should you be using? What’s the best way of engaging your audience? What stories and activities are going to be the most engaging? Do your research and don’t just go for the standard approach.
Think community – when you’re trying to build a community of advocates and followers, think about how best to reward their engagement and build a community that is more than just a relentless flood of posts and pronouncements. For advocates, there are some great ways to help them create and curate content, and reward them with points and prizes. For followers, bring the most engaged people closer to your business, grow your following and make sure you are engaging with people all the time.
Think personal – make your community personal. When people feel like you are talking directly to them rather than just spamming them, they are more likely to engage.
Notice we haven’t mentioned technology. Of course, like everything today, technology should play a part – and there are some great tools out there like Smarp. But don’t make it all about the technology. Make it about the audience and the community. Make it personal. And use technology as well as events, experiences and more to help you do this.
If this has piqued your interest in employee advocacy, do take a look at our brochure.