So you’ve decided on launching an employee advocacy program. Or maybe your company already has one in place and you want to take it to the next level.
A key aspect to ensure that your program and strategy is successful is employee adoption. It might be holding you back from adding a program or from expanding.
What is Employee Advocacy Adoption?
Otherwise summed up as how many of your employees are logging in, interacting, creating, and sharing content.
Additionally, adoption in the context of advocacy refers to how many of your employees join when you launch, how often do they come back (retention), and how many more are requesting to join?
Pending your business objectives, you may only have this strategy and program in place for one or two key areas, potentially a combination, or maybe you are considering going company wide.
But a challenge that organizations can have (as either newcomers to advocacy or as seasoned vets), is employee advocacy adoption.
The reason being, many business leaders are not taking the process seriously, lack a strategy and the right partner, or not looking for unique ways to keep employees engaged long term.
Employee advocacy doesn’t have to be a painstaking process, nor should it be super time consuming once you are up and running.
Below I’ll cover how to get consistent employee advocacy adoption so your program won’t fail and to ensure you see real ROI from your efforts.
First Things First
Before getting into some of the tips and steps to improve employee advocacy adoption, there are two things to get right first.
Meaning, these two areas will set the right precedent to get you started on an effective advocacy journey.
Building company culture and employee experience
Since day one, our team has said that you must focus on company culture and the employee experience. It doesn’t mean your organization needs to be perfect, but there has to be genuine efforts.
Without these two areas, introducing employee advocacy could be challenging.
You want employees who are excited about their work, their company, and want to create and share on the company’s behalf.
It’s going to be difficult to get people interested if they are disconnected from their work culture — no matter if there are benefits for them.
Most companies understand the impact of creating a strong culture and experience in the 21st century. And many organizations continue working towards better company culture, work life balance, and valuing employees more than ever.
But it’s still worth noting.
Choosing the right vendor
Another area to get right, is having the right employee advocacy vendor in place. There are a few options to choose from and items to consider when selecting.
Ultimately, it comes down to things like preferences, budgets, product features and design, and the on-going support.
But when selecting a vendor, you want to choose one that is designed for employee advocacy adoption. One that is easy to use, but also fuels retention and engagement.
Additionally, you want a partner and not just a software solution.
Employee advocacy can seem like a daunting task in the early stages, but with the right vendor you can alleviate that stress. Meaning everything from onboarding, to launch strategy ideas, and continuing training is key for success.
At EveryoneSocial, it’s how we maintain long-term relationships with customers. Our team is focused on:
- a product and features employees want to use
- easy for teams to launch and scale
- provide industry knowledge to succeed
Of course there is more I could share, but this is not what this post is about.
If you are considering employee advocacy or looking to switch providers and want to learn more, schedule some time to talk to our team.
Tips for Successful Employee Advocacy Adoption
Now that we got some of the above cleared up, let’s get to some tips for successful employee advocacy adoption.
There is no particular order to follow, but all of these have equal importance to getting employees engaged in your program and strategy.
Lead With What’s In It For Employees
Sure, employee advocacy is certainly used to help your organization grow. Whether growth is in marketing, sales, recruiting and employer branding, for better internal communications or for everything.
But you are encouraging and asking employees to be brand ambassadors for your company. They have to understand the benefits it has for them over anything else.
Show your team how it helps their:
- professional careers
- Social network growth
- credibility and thought leadership
- knowledge and expertise
If leadership and program leaders are not communicating the value to their people, adoption can be affected. Besides offering them a chance to help their company further, there are clear benefits to their consistent participation.
Provide Training and Learning Sessions
Everyone in the organization is busy with their day to day jobs, meetings, and whatever else their positions require.
How is there any time for training or learning sessions around social media and employee advocacy?
Simple, you make it a company priority.
If you, your department(s), or organization as a whole are interested in employee advocacy, then you probably know the impact it can have. If you want anything to succeed and work well, you have to devote some time and energy.
You can keep this simple and provide training in a few ways:
- Recurring monthly training sessions on social media and advocacy
- Recorded video training videos that are accessible to employees whenever
- Department trainings if employee advocacy is not company wide
- Rely on your employee advocacy vendor for best practices, training, and in-person sessions
For many modern businesses, training might not be needed as frequently. And how to use the program should not be complicated either, so at that point it won’t take an exuberant amount of time or resources.
Onboard New Hires from Day One
If your company is growing fast and hiring people fairly often, then new hires should be onboarded to your advocacy platform from day one.
This allows you to set the precedent for the organization and how it views advocacy and social media.
But more importantly, you are showing your trust in these new hires. You want to show that they are a part of this brand, their voice and insights matter, and that your company wants them to benefit from being involved.
As your organization grows, those previous new hires are setting the bar and making it a part of the culture. And as additional hires come onboard, this reflects on the work environment and prepares the newcomers to dive in as well.
Make it More Than a Program: It’s a Cultural Thing
One of the interesting ways to help position employee advocacy adoption is how you position this program and strategy internally.
I’ve used this quote before in other articles, but it’s such a valuable statement to improve adoption and retention, it warrants being shared here as well.
“We’ve stopped calling advocacy a ‘program’ and are working to simply make it WHAT WE DO. This is part of our culture, and the platform is available to everyone. If you work here, part of what we do is share, discover, and create great content.”
The idea that employees voice matters for all aspects of the organization is a cultural mindset that executive and department leads should instill.
Employee advocacy is not just a software solution or trend, it has a major impact on the business. And chances are, your employees or colleagues are already exhibiting the beginnings of employee advocacy!
Executive Excitement and Buy In
For many of the best employee advocacy examples we have seen the executives of the organization truly get it.
Meaning from the beginning of any advocacy initiative, the execs fully value the impact and are totally onboard with why it’s important. But beyond being excited and understanding it, they lead by example with it too.
Employees look towards their executive leaders for guidance, but also to let everyone see that it’s good to be involved in company initiatives.
Some of the best brands online with great cultures have executive leaders who are extremely active in creating and sharing content via employee advocacy.
For example, CEOs and other executives at these companies are highly active on social media and involved in the EveryoneSocial platform:
- American Family Insurance
Admins Need to Be More Active
Ultimately, there will be some admin owners to an employee advocacy platform. These are people leading the way for the platform and helping guide the direction.
That might be you, or could be you pending your involvement.
For many admins the concerns are:
- Having time to manage a program outside of current job duties
- Organizing it correctly and communicating so employees join
The good thing is after setup, management doesn’t take much more than 15-20 minutes a day. And when it comes to organization and communication, your vendor should be helping run that for you.
But for employee advocacy adoption to continue admins need to be in the platform — engaging with content, commenting, tagging, creating groups, sending internal emails, and adding new content.
This keeps employees coming back (besides for their own stuff) and engaging.
The mistake admin sometimes makes is a “set it and forget it” approach, hoping it will run on autopilot. This is how you lose engagement and do not generate results.
Of course, there is a gamification and leaderboard element to keep people engaged too, but leading with just gamification is a mistake.
Program Launch Events to Stimulate Interest
Facilitating launch events is something that the EveryoneSocial success team helps onboarding companies with in order to increase their employee advocacy adoption.
Granted, not every organization will have the budget or resources to do this. However, there are other smaller scaled launch events that can help create a buzz around this.
The most recent example we can share is with T-Mobile. The telecommunications leader realized the value of placing EveryoneSocial internally, that they scaled quickly.
To get their retail store leads and corporate employees interested in employee advocacy, T-Mobile orchestrated pop-up events when they were going live with their program.
With our team onsite, we got to show employees the product and the value. Additionally, the T-Mobile program leaders got to train, engage, and get people pumped on this idea. Plus, there was food, prizes, and more.
Enterprise companies may do higher scaled events, but your company can certainly hold something similar internally. Definitely get creative and play to the values of your company culture!
For T-Mobile, throwing what was essentially a party is very consistent with their Team Magenta gregarious culture.
Let Employees Participate in Conversations
Not only do you want to ensure they understand the benefits of social sharing, but you want employees to be part of the conversations too.
A common misstep by some organizations with employee advocacy is locking everything down.
Meaning content added to the platform is handled by a person or two and everything reads like generic marketing copy. And, commentary is locked so no one can add their voice.
It might work for a bit, but then it looks like your employees are just spamming and they are not allowed to contribute anything. Trust me, audiences will notice and employees will zone out.
It’s okay to have some regulations and compliance pending your industry, but this is not the stone age of the internet anymore. Audiences trust authentic voices and insights.
You want employee advocacy to be about employees adding their thoughts to things they share. Like having access to their own personal streams and groups of interest.
This also means activating employee-generated content, where employees can create something colleagues can engage and share with too.
Company news and blog content is important too, but don’t shun employees from getting involved. You’ll find engagement and program adoption are much stronger.
Plus, the results your company is looking to see with advocacy will be more aligned too.
“When employees feel like their voice matters, they are more willing to use the platform and it builds the relationship between the company and employees. “ – Tatiana Echeverri, Communications Project Specialist at Cyxtera