On Wednesday, January 30th, Sociabble had the honor of being invited to the B2B Digital Workshops organized by Orange Business Services’ Internal Communications Director Thomas Traissac, in Paris, France. Our French General Director Renaud Marcadet led a roundtable discussion on the issues of employee engagement as part of a corporate communication strategy. Topics covered included the importance of employee advocacy best practices, the necessity of employee branding, and the need for a platform that can meet your company’s needs—all presented by experts in the field who were willing to share their learnings and experiences. And based on this concrete feedback, we’ve compiled ready-to-use solutions that can help any brand improve their own employee advocacy program.
Employees don’t just represent the brand. They ARE the brand.
Too often in this day and age, employees are seen as simply a functional extension of a company. An interchangeable part, you might even say. But the reality is that employees are as much a part of a brand’s identity as its consumers, its products, even its logo. After all, what is a company without employees? Just an empty office where nothing happens. They are the heart and soul of any organization; they are ultimately what gives it a personality and makes it tick. And the mistake too may companies make is not recognizing the important role employees play as brand ambassadors when they connect with the public beyond the company walls. Indeed, they are emissaries, forming a crucial connection with the outside world. They talk to their friends, they share their experiences with their peers—they play a pivotal role in how a company is perceived.
So why would a company neglect such a useful resource? Why wouldn’t a company celebrate the unique talents and skill sets of its workforce? Why not help empower them with employee branding, as enthusiastic brand ambassadors?
At the B2B Digital Workshops roundtable, representatives from Orange Business Services, Talentsoft, and Sociabble discussed the practical steps companies can take to make their employee advocacy program a success.
Don’t let their unique talents go to waste. Putting expertise into play.
When it comes to employees, companies have a reserve of talent that often goes untapped. For example, many employees have popular social media accounts or blogs that they run outside their professional duties. They have influence, and they are considered experts in their field. And even employees who aren’t necessarily thought leaders or specific industry experts may simply have a large body of followers who appreciate their unique insights and feeds. This is a resource that should be utilized and celebrated. For example, Edwige Cottigny, the Digital Communications Director at Orange Business Services, noted that the deployment of an employee advocacy program enabled them to engage the community of expert bloggers who already worked at Orange Business Services, and thus benefited Orange employees in France and around the world.
But it’s not just the experts. Every employee has something to say.
There is a trickle-down effect when it comes to encouraging employee advocacy and empowering the workforce as brand ambassadors. As Edwige noted, what started with leveraging the expertise of the company’s most successful bloggers quickly began influencing other employees as well, as everyone began to see the benefits of sharing information and staying informed. And Xavier Monty, the Director of Corporate Communications at Talentsoft, echoed that sentiment. Over the course of deploying their own employee advocacy program, it has become clear that it’s not enough to engage only certain groups. According to Xavier, when launching a digital communications project, it’s crucial that it involves all employees to achieve effective results and optimal participation. The commitment must be made at the local team level, says Xavier, but also at the level of local management as well. This is arguable the most essential element of employee advocacy best practices.
Which brings us to the critical issue of involving top management. And starting big.
As Renaud Marcadet expressed during the workshop, an employee advocacy initiative has a much better chance of taking off if it has the critical mass needed for success from the get-go. A small pilot will only have small results. To see the full benefit of employee advocacy in action, the entire company needs to be involved.
And in order to do that, top management needs to support the initiative. That’s why it’s so important to make sure company leaders understand the initiative, comprehend its benefits, and are willing to allocate the resources needed to ensure it is a success. They can also lead by example, and show the power of user generated content (UGC) and participation in quizzes and polls (gamification).
Whether or not an employee advocacy project succeeds can depend largely on these two factors.
But ultimately, it comes down to finding the right platform.
What everyone seemed to agree on was the importance of finding the right social advocacy platform. Gamification, real-time translation, CSM support—different companies look for different things. For Xavier Monty, the right platform meant one that could be integrated with Workplace by Facebook, since it was already being used by the company. For Edwige Cottigny, that meant a platform with the ability to create segmented and targeted user groups.
“The advantage of Sociabble is that the platform allows us to create themed channels where everyone does not necessarily share the same content at the same time. This permits everyone to have their own editorial line.”
—Edwige Cottigny, Digital Communications Director at Orange Business Services
And in both cases, Sociabble provided exactly what they were looking for. According to Edwige, “The advantage of Sociabble is that the platform allows us to create themed channels where everyone does not necessarily share the same content at the same time. This permits everyone to have their own editorial line.” And as Xavier put more generally, “Sociabble allows me to achieve my goals. Without Sociabble, we would not have been able to create the corporate image we have today in the marketplace because of our communication efforts.”
“Sociabble allows me to achieve my goals. Without Sociabble, we would not have been able to create the corporate image we have today in the marketplace because of our communication efforts.”
—Xavier Monty, Director of Corporate Communications at Talentsoft
If you’re curious to learn more about how you can turn your employees into brand ambassadors, you can also download our latest white paper here on boosting employee advocacy in a changing digital world. And if you’d like to sign up for a free demo and see Sociabble in action, click here.