On July 21st we joined Leslie Gaines-Ross and Liz McCarthy of Weber Shandwick, and Simone Schuurer of Microsoft, Bing Ads, for a webinar on Why Employee Advocacy Will Sink or Save Your Social Business.
During the webinar we discussed employee advocacy not only as a method of content amplification; but also as a catalyst for change within the enterprise. Here are the key takeaways.
First things first – what does employee advocacy actually mean for companies?
“Employee advocacy is different from employee satisfaction, as it recognizes the commitment component,” explains Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick; “commitment to the company’s mission and community events, and corporate social responsibility.”
Simone Schuurer, International Content Marketing & Social Media Manager at Microsoft, Bing Ads, notes: “I feel a commitment to the people I work with to get them ready to communicate with our customers on the platforms they are moving towards.”
And for Marylin Montoya, Director of Marketing & Partnerships at Sociabble, “social media has become such an important part of brand message diffusion that there has to be a new way to communicate on social media, a way that doesn’t take the form of advertising – people are expecting a much more human approach.”
Ok, but what makes for a successful employee advocacy program?
“A good place to start is within,” notes Liz McCarthy, VP Employee Engagement & Change Management at Weber Shandwick, “understanding your current level of employee engagement and what you’re trying to do.” Training is also important, adds Simone Schuurer: “at Microsoft there is guidance in place, which gives people confidence. Leadership should also set an example by embracing it themselves.”
“Once you get going it’s really important to listen to employees and see which content they’re engaging with,” explains Marylin Montoya. “It’s also important to measure as you go along and track ROI. There are qualitative and quantitative benefits.”
Is there a generational divide?
“Younger people naturally embrace social media,” says Simone Schuurer. “They need very little training and build a profile instinctively. But on the flip side there are older people who have taken it on. They share very selectively, which comes with experience. But when they share they have a really big impact because they have been working on their network a bit longer.”
Indeed, Leslie Gaines-Ross adds that “in our [Weber Shandwick] research we also found that there is a whole group of younger boomers who want to share, they just need the training and permission to go ahead and advocate on behalf of their brand.”
Isn’t employee advocacy just for marketers?
“We see a wide range of use cases for employee advocacy,” explains Marylin Montoya. “It’s often used to help commercial teams, as it lends itself to building social selling programs.” Simone Schuurer adds that at Microsoft, “our employees asked for a channel where they could share job opportunities.”
How do you set goals and measure engagement?
“Metrics vary for each organization,” notes Liz McCarthy; while Marylin Montoya adds that ‘it’s very dependent on the context and the maturity of the client. For example, do you have people submitting their own content? Generating referrals? Going onto the platform and consuming content? There must be a range of goals, whether they’re business objectives or less tangible ones.”
Where does employee advocacy fit into today’s business landscape? Why is it a tool for change? How can it help companies to develop their brand story and nurture long-term engagement? These are some of the other questions explored by the panel during the webinar.