In 2014 I wrote an advocacy post about turning executives into social advocates. https://bizplanntoday.com/turn-executives-triumphant-social-stewards/
At the time, employee advocacy was still a burgeoning practice. Today, most large organizations have sophisticated software and teams to run their programs.
Despite this commitment to software and personnel, many companies still struggle with implementation and traction within their programs. Solutions that I posed in 2014 still ring true as the fundamental building blocks for successful employee advocacy:
Different employees have different reasons to care. The only way to understand someone’s sphere of care, is to ask them. Employee advocacy programs typically start with telling employees what to do. In my experience, the most successful programs have been those that engage employees with questions, seeking to understand their online personality type. From understanding one’s cares, the program manager can reach-out to different employee segments with different content, offers, training and even incentives.
Back in 2014 I discussed how “time poor” Executives can be, relative to building and maintaining their own personal brand. Two and a half years later, this holds true for almost anyone in a corporate role. Productivity advancements have forced companies to do more with less.
Most employees consume industry, product and competitive news, somewhere. Show each employee a plan of how they can turn these existing activities into the foundation of their sharing strategy. Start employees with a foundation of quick easy content sharing and move them along the continuum to become content creating and sharing experts. Remember, in any discipline, expertise doesn’t happen overnight.
And finally, think about the road traveled. Most of us have worked hard making it through school, establishing a profession, and maintaining a set of ethics with our friends, family and co-workers. It is no surprise that many employees have apprehension and fear about sharing online at mass scale. Brands rarely consider this psychological risk and reward calculation that is prominent within most employees. How many employees do you think can tell you the subtle details of how Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram work? For employees, not making a mistake in a complex social media landscape typically outweighs looking like a fan of the brand. Getting someone to practice repetition of a feared action is the only way to overcome a fear. Unfortunately, most of these advocacy programs are so large, support to generate repetition is lost in the shuffle of statistics and numbers, and never really fostered.
For this year, your advocacy program can and should meet the expectations that you once had. Try to shift your focus on listening and understanding the people that you are asking to participate. If you cater to their spheres of care and remove time barriers and fear, you can build a force of advocates that become self aware and more self sufficient.