When launching an employee advocacy program, the people you select for a pilot can have a defining impact on the success of the initiative in the long run. But how you choose your pilot participants also depends on the ultimate objectives of your employee advocacy initiative. Whether your priority is to drive adoption among a specific department or pave the way for a global deployment, here are the best ways to define who should be involved in your employee advocacy pilot.
Look to Your Existing Employee Ambassadors
A good place to start when selecting participants for your pilot is with those who already advocate for you on social media. Those who engage with company content on a regular basis, are already connected with clients online or share their own work-related content. This may include photos taken at company events, for example. By doing this you bet on the people who are most likely to engage on an employee advocacy platform. They also set the tone for others and even play a leadership role in subsequent training and onboarding initiatives.
The first step of an employee advocacy deployment at Adecco Group France was to engage employees who were already active sharers of company content; these individuals became the group’s “super ambassadors”.
Launch a Department-Specific Employee Advocacy Pilot
Another way to address an employee advocacy pilot is to select those people who fall into your target user group. Contrary to the first option, this may include people who don’t often use social media in a professional context. If you are launching an employee advocacy platform to drive social selling, the pilot should hone in on sales teams. It may also require dedicated training. Alternatively, if the primary objective of your employee advocacy program is to drive recruitment and develop your employer brand on social media, the pilot should be for HR teams.
The advantage of conducting a department-specific pilot is that it enables you to create a highly tailored employee advocate experience. For example, during a combined employee advocacy and social selling launch, content channels, gamification campaigns and user training can be defined according to the needs and objectives of sales teams. Such a pilot puts you in a great position to roll out across teams in a subsequent deployment. You will be well practised in configuring content aggregation, communication, and engagement initiatives with specific end-user groups in mind.
Misys launched an employee advocacy platform for social sellers ahead of other teams, using the global sales kickoff event as a launch pad and a starting point from which to engage other departments within the company.
Select Employee Advocacy Pilot Participants Based on Location
Selecting employee advocacy pilot participants based on location is also an option. Focusing on an initial country or region allows you to identify the combination of global and localized needs to be addressed ahead of a large-scale deployment. These include the configuration of global and region-specific channels, the assignment of regional project leaders and platform administrators, and the combination of company-wide and region-specific gamification initiatives.
Microsoft used a pilot in selected countries to establish the key objectives and structure of a global deployment.
Alternatively, an employee advocacy pilot may involve engaging selected individuals from a number of locations. It will then be their job to drive user adoption when the program is rolled out at scale. A key advantage is the opportunity to instil a sense of togetherness between pilot participants. This drives collaboration between teams who might not be used to working together. If an objective of your employee advocacy program is to drive company-wide awareness, this option is definitely worth considering.
ExterionMedia France selected pilot participants from all regions in order to unite teams spread out all over France on a single, centralized employee engagement platform.
Whatever Your Pilot Strategy, Target Top Management
Regardless of the pilot strategy you opt for, it’s essential to bring top management into the equation; executive impetus will be key when deploying employee advocacy at scale. This isn’t to say that the leaders of your employee advocacy program must be in management positions. If you launch a pilot among existing employee ambassadors, be sure to include members of management who are active on social media. If your pilot is designed for a specific team, make sure managers within that department are the first to get on board.
Together with the leadership of program ambassadors and the tone set by early adopters, the implication of top management will go a long way to ensuring the success of your employee advocacy post-pilot.