With marketing budgets being reduced around the world, many companies are wondering how to scale Employee Advocacy as a cost-effective solution.
By knowing what Employee Advocacy is, and by having the right strategy and steps, it is possible to expand an Employee Advocacy program across offices, regions, and even countries. Many companies are trying to find ways to expand their Employee Advocacy program, to help boost sales and make up for smaller budgets and lagging publicity. The way to best do this, however, isn’t always obvious. Problems of communication, coordination, and collaboration all spring up. Which is why we’ve put together these helpful strategies and tips for companies wondering how to switch from an Employee Advocacy pilot to a scalable employee advocacy program.
In this article, you will learn:
1. Reasons an Employee Advocacy program is more important than ever
2. Why scaling matters
3. Problems with starting small
4. The importance of a change mindset regarding social media
5. Specific steps to grow your Employee Advocacy program across an entire organization
Marketing budgets are shrinking and social media use is growing.
The reasons many companies are exploring how to scale their employee advocacy program are two-fold, and fairly straightforward. First, it’s because marketing and comms budgets have experienced drastic reductions because of the global health crisis. Close to 80% of businesses have reduced their budgets to deal with the economic fall-out. Add this to the fact that more people are on social media than ever. 98% of employees already have at least one social media account, and half of those are already talking about their company. Employee Advocacy, encouraging employees to promote their company and its brand, is an obvious cost-effective solution.
But in order for an Employee Advocacy program to work, it has to be done at scale.
Employee Advocacy works when there is a critical mass of employees communicating about their company on social media. It’s a question of simple math. 1,000 employees with 500 connections each will generate half a million touchpoints with a single coordinated share. 10 employees with 500 connections each will create only 5,000 touchpoints. Without the critical mass, the sweeping effect of coordinated communication is lost.
The mistake many companies make is they start small.
The idea of getting a large Employee Advocacy program off the ground, with the requisite funds and resources, is intimidating to many companies. Not surprisingly, they decide to play it safe and start small with a pilot, to see how the results pan out. But aside from the issue of raw numbers described above, there are other problems:
No commitment from top management: with a small program, the C-level staff and managers will likely not think it’s worth their time to get involved.
Not enough content/resources for employees who are involved: there simply won’t be a coordinated effort to create photo, video, and audio content for employees to share online.
No administrator to manage the program: with smaller numbers, there will probably be no manager to ensure that the program is running smoothly and that employees are getting what they need.
When companies start small, the results are almost never worth their while. The program is destined to fail before it even begins.
To succeed, you need to change your company’s mindset.
Businesses have to recognize that the role of social media has changed. It’s no longer a “nice to have,” or a fringe idea. It’s a fundamental part of business communication. Everyone company-wide needs to be involved. As we discussed above, 98% of employees already have at least one social media account. In fact, employees in total are connected to 10x more people than your brand alone. And content shared by these employees receives 8x more engagement than that shared by brands. If your brand isn’t harnessing this power, for marketing, for public relations, for recruiting, for sales, then you’re missing out on the conversation; you’re not part of the general discourse of your sector. It’s already there, it’s just a question of making sure every employee is active and taking part in a coordinated way that benefits your business.
So how can you succeed at building a large-scale Employee Advocacy program? Here are some tips.
It does take some work, some commitment, and some resources, but by following a few simple steps, your company can build a large-scale Employee Advocacy program that gets results. For example:
• Use the support of companies like Sociabble. Having run hundreds of EA programs, we can help you every step of the way, with choosing an Employee Advocacy platform, consulting, and management support. The right company should supply you with governance, content strategy, and gamification & rewards, to name a few.
Sociabble’s easy-to-use platform and intuitive interface are designed to get your workforce involved with Employee Advocacy at your company, no matter the size or structure.
• Get the sponsorship and the support of at least one senior exec. This could include marketing, comms, HR—there are many ways to go about it. But having the support of someone in top management, who can act as your cheerleader and drum up support across the company, is key.
• Educate the different teams. Work with the different subs, entities, and departments so that they understand how they can help solve their own problems via Employee Advocacy (sales, marketing, recruitment, etc.) Get the commitment of these departments to provide resources, whether it’s content for their people, rewards, etc. And make sure that the program is connected to the business, including event promotions, launch of products, CSR initiatives, hiring campaigns.
• Organize properly the management of the project. This means combining global and local responsibilities clearly and associated KPIs. Make sure people will commit for the long-term, not only at the beginning.
• Make sure you do a proper launch. Explain the “why” to employees, while getting the commitment of execs from the different departments. Build audiences and target the audiences with the right content so that they get the content they need and nothing else. Activate UGC so that employees also receive local content to share, and not only group-level content.
• Analyze your data. Post-launch, look over your analytics and understand the performance of the different types of content and how it resonates for the different audiences. Adjust. Celebrate the wins, the most engaged people, whatever the size of their networks. Show what the program allows the company to achieve overall, but also for every department, and for every scenario (branding, recruitment, sales, etc.)
• Share best practices across the company. When you have a multi-country/sub organization, share best practices between entities, and celebrate the most engaged admins and executive sponsors. Make the leaders visible and reward them.
If you need a partner in scaling your Employee Advocacy program, Sociabble can help.
Sociabble is a comprehensive Employee Communication and Employee Advocacy platform backed up by customized consulting and assistance, every step of the way. We’ve worked with hundreds of companies in over 80 countries around the world, including industry leaders like Coca-Cola European Partners, Microsoft, Vinci, and L’Occitane, to name a few. We’d love to chat with you about Sociabble and tell you how we can help you create an effective Employee Advocacy program at your company, no matter the size.
If you want to know more, schedule a demo.