Employee advocacy ~ 21 min

Capgemini: Scaling Employee Advocacy on a Global Level

An international leader in technology services consulting, Capgemini has 365,000 employees, not to mention clients all over the world. Which means when it came to employee advocacy, the company had to find a way not just to get it to work effectively, but to do so on a large, global scale. Obviously, this posed unique challenges. But with the right strategy in place and technology on hand, they were able to expand their EA program across offices, borders, and cultures.

Capgemini is a Sociabble client, and Joe Morris, their Head of Social Media and Employee Advocacy, was kind enough to speak on the podcast “Masters of Comms” and share his wisdom on how to grow an advocacy campaign at such an impressive scale.

MOC: In these changing economic times, we’re seeing a shift in corporate dynamics to adopt new media formats, in order to attract a variety of audiences. And with traditional company landing pages and websites experiencing diminishing online traffic, many corporations have turned to employee advocacy. Maybe you could describe why it was important for Capgemini to invest in an EA program.

CAPGEMINI: Well, I would say it’s not really down to changing economic times. Of course, economics play into it in terms of budgets and people’s willingness to spend on certain things. But really, it’s driven more by changes in technology and changes in, I would say, user wants and needs and expectations.

As you said, the kind of traditional digital channels, their impact is diminishing, you know, corporate, organic, social. It still plays a very important role, but about that role, I think it’s changing significantly. I think we are moving from, you know, how social media started off as a social form of communication, right?

It’s about connecting people. And then, as enterprises started getting on board, it became more about, at least from an enterprise perspective, broadcast. So broadcast channels, sending out links, driving traffic, downloads, needs, et cetera, which is all fine. But I think now with the platforms themselves, and especially for us, a B2B company, LinkedIn has a super important impact, the role of company pages is diminishing. The algorithm is actively against us to some extent today. So we are not able to make the same impact.

And at the same time, you know, I hear it almost every day now, how people want to buy from people. And so it’s getting back to that, that social connection. For us, employee advocacy is a way of driving intimacy, really, with our target audience; taking advantage of our employees networks, their personal connections to inform people about the topics that are important to Capgemini and topics that are important to our audiences, and where we think things are going.

So that’s why we’re shifting priorities from corporate organic to advocacy because it’s about reaching people and making a real impact one to one.

MOC: And based off of your investment in your program—you were just talking about investment—can you address whether this has had an effect on your paid organic communications?

CAPGEMINI: Well, as I said, you know, priorities are shifting in terms of investment, that we are slowly shifting advocacy from appearing to be just another channel, to actually the best way that we can go to market, the best use of social media that we can make.

The investment is beginning to shift and that’s a slow process. In terms of paid, I think it’s shifting, but in the opposite direction. So as we stop relying quite so heavily on corporate organic, then corporate paid needs to take a front row. And I think it’s really important that paid and advocacy work very closely together. So yeah, things are shifting for sure.

MOC: Glad to hear that. One of the things I wanted to ask you about was possibly providing us with some of your initial goals or objectives that you put in place for your EA program, and how did they evolve over time as you scaled to even more employees? Can you talk to us a little bit more about that?

CAPGEMINI: Yeah. I mean, one thing I should say is that I wasn’t responsible for initiating the program. So I want to make sure that I’m not taking credit for that. I think, you know, back in 2013, I think it was 2013 when it was launched, it was a pretty forward-thinking thing to do. It was not common for people to be building a formal employee advocacy program at that time.

And at the time it was mostly focused on amplification. Creating an army of people, subject matter experts that can amplify our key messages. And while there was kind of a desire to enable people to use social media well, and build their presence and network, ultimately, the emphasis was on amplification.

And that’s partly down to circumstances and, you know, investment and so on. So that was kind of the initial thing and then it became about, okay, how do we scale that? So how do we add more and more, which is fine, but it gets very hard to manage—particularly if you’re not investing in the number of people that you have to—to actually manage those people.

So two years ago, we shifted focus. And today. it’s more about influence. As I said, it’s about relationships. It’s about enabling our core subject matter experts to strengthen their networks, to build an audience on social, to drive conversations, influence decisions. So really, it’s subtle shifts.

It means we’re not just measuring number of times a particular piece of content got shared, how many impressions did it get. It’s much more important, and it’s actually much harder measuring who you influence, who likes your post, or who actually left a comment? So it’s not about quantity, but more about quality.

MOC: Yes, I would completely agree with that. And in a company that has such a large footprint where language, culture, even diversity may have an impact on the implementation of a program, how do you construct a scalable program? For a global workforce, how do you overcome those challenges? Were there some particular drawbacks there?

CAPGEMINI: You construct a scalable program with an awful lot of blood, sweat, and tears. 365,000 employees. A lot of people, and you can’t treat them as one big amorphous block. You need to segment your employees the same way that you should segment your audience because of course, not everybody has the same role.

Not everybody has the same expertise, seniority, etc. So the way that we are tackling it, because this is very much an ongoing process, is by segmenting. So focusing on senior leadership, on subject matter experts, and then further things like people working in talent areas, for instance, sales.

And so just going through different topics, different communities, and breaking it down that way. So it really is about focusing your efforts on where you’re going to get the biggest return.

MOC: Got it. And, you know, once you’ve decided to implement this program, how did you communicate the importance of your program to your employees, so they’ve understood the benefits of participating throughout your global offices? And once you’ve done that, how did you identify, engage, or encourage employees to participate in the program? Were there any specific criteria that you used?

CAPGEMINI: Communicating the importance of the program is super, super important. And to be perfectly honest, you know, when we launched the new version of the program two years ago, it’s something that we didn’t invest enough in. And this is something we sort of came to realize after 12 months or so, that what we didn’t really do is communicate “why.” And I think we sort of took it for granted a little bit. Why is this good for the business? But also, why is this good for you? Why is it good for you to be active on LinkedIn, for instance? What can that actually do for you? What kind of benefits does it bring you? Why is it important to be a digital leader today?

Yeah, that’s something that we didn’t do enough of. And also, actually, for a marketing community for instance, why this should be a core part of how you go to market now, the key feature of your campaigns? You know, we didn’t do enough of that, I think, and it’s the kind of thing you really realize by doing.

But also, I think it’s a sign of the relative sophistication of our new approach to advocacy. Our goals are quite ambitious, in terms of being able to change perceptions. And so we kind of underestimated or didn’t appreciate how much of a change, behavioral change program this is, and the willingness to share, to be open, and step out of the shadow of the branded account, and put it into the hands of other people.

That can seem like a quite risky thing to do. So this is something that we’re working to address. We’ve built documentation guidelines that cover why this is a good thing for you; we have spent a bit of time to establish that, okay, these are the four key values, they add to you as an individual by participating in the program. So we have our official narrative around that. And yeah, we are investing quite a bit of time in documentation, presentations and so on, and for making sure that those are tailored to different audiences, different seniorities, different roles as well. So it’s really important to spend a bit of time doing that.


MOC: So you just talked about the guidelines that you’ve implemented and the four key values that you’ve added. Maybe you can give us an example of what those key values are. And then also, how do you ensure that the content that will be shared or is shared by the employee is on brand and aligned with company values?

CAPGEMINI: So. Four values. One is about being connected, connecting with your audience, being plugged in as part of being a digital media leader. The importance of leadership, but also the digital component of it, demonstrating that you understand how social media works because this is how an awful lot of the world communicates today.

And especially with younger generations, it’s super important to be able to demonstrate to them that you get it. Not saying that means you have to suddenly start sharing TikToks, but that is really important. Being plugged in to what’s going on, plugged in to your network, you know, being able to listen to what your audience is saying, what your clients are saying, what influences the same thought leaders. Super important.

Related to that is just about being informed at a basic level. What are the conversations that are happening around, you know, say generative AI, for instance? And social media is a great place to read those. So again, it’s part of listening to your network and understanding what are the trends, what are the hot topics right now?

I mentioned digital leadership. Leadership generally is people, I mean, forget the number, but an awful lot of candidates look at, well, is the CEO active and what kinds of things are they saying? And for us, it’s important, with a CEO as a kind of grand ambassador in chief, that he or she is visible on the platforms, is active, is talking about the things that are important to the business. What values are priorities, where do we think the world is going? But also, that they are engaging with their community. They are part of the community. It’s not just a broadcast channel for them; they are using it as a way to listen as well as talk.

And then the fourth one really is opportunity. You know, just on a very personal level, being active on social can bring you attention. People start to understand, see you as a thought leader on a particular topic as a go-to person to ask questions, you know, whether it’s driverless vehicles or machine learning, or whatever it is, right? And that can bring opportunities. You might get invited onto a podcast like this one, or even speaking events.

MOC: Great. Those are great key values. And so how do you ensure that the content that is shared by your employees is on brand and aligned with those values and the company’s messaging?

CAPGEMINI: By ruling with an iron fist! No, I think the very first step is to ensure that people understand where the guardrails are; you’re doing your employees a disservice if you don’t tell them that. You know, if you do this kind of stuff on social media, you’re going to get into trouble. So first of all, make sure everybody’s clear on what not to say.

So don’t give away state secrets. Don’t share photos of your access ID for the office. Basics, basic security stuff like that. But then also, you know, don’t be irresponsible. Don’t be rude. Don’t be stupid. Be respectful. Be positive. Be a positive member of your community. And it’s all about ultimately being able to use social media safely and securely.

You know, we want to give employees the confidence: is it okay to share this? To know whether it is or not. So we spent a lot of time building a new code of conduct for social media and then training people on it, making sure that people have done the training, and that our key advocates have done the training, so that we can feel secure and so can they.

So that’s really important. And then in terms of content, we give guidelines, training. What’s the right mix? If you’re sharing content on LinkedIn, in other words, don’t share just Capgemini content because nobody’s really going to want to read that. And to be honest, they can just get that from the company page if they really want to.

Anyway, it’s about having a good balanced mix of personal content, because I mean, now LinkedIn is much more; it’s not Facebook, thankfully, but it is becoming more and more a forum for people to share personal stories and it makes absolute sense because, you know, what do you do in the office?

Do you talk about your weekends? When you’re getting a cup of coffee, do you share important milestones and things like that? And if it’s appropriate to share with your colleagues in the office, then why not share with the audience? Because it’s a core part of getting to know somebody.

And like I said before, we see social is all about relationships, it’s all about intimacy. So yeah, training on the mix, but then also we have everyone divided into communities, communities of practice, if you like, in terms of topics. And each community has a community manager and they are responsible for sharing content, the branded content and third-party content suggestions.

Those community managers are pretty well schooled in what is okay and what is not okay to share. And what does a good post look like, and stuff like that. And it’s also about educating the advocates themselves directly on what does do well on LinkedIn, the algorithm, right? What does the algorithm look like today? It changes all the time. So we invest in staying on top of that and making sure that our employees understand it as well.

MOC: That’s great feedback. And from an organization that’s had more than 10 years of experience in this area, being that you launched in 2013, maybe you could talk about what strategies you put in place to ensure your engagement program would last for the long term?

CAPGEMINI: That’s a tough question. I think the key thing is being agile, nimble in your approach, so it’s the same thing as the algorithm training, right? It’s understanding what works today, and what does not. We spend an awful lot of time looking at what is working.

Why has this group of people not responded? Why are they not active? What’s gone wrong? How do we need to change it? So we have a model, but that model is a living, breathing thing. It changes, evolves, it grows. And I think that’s the key thing, really, because in terms of the actual people, the individuals, of course, those people are going to change over time, over a 10-year period, right?

Some of them are going to leave, some of them are going to change roles. So you can’t pin it all on long-term, working long-term with those people necessarily. Although, obviously, that is the ideal and one thing that’s super important for people to understand is that this is a long-term thing.

You can’t suddenly switch advocacy on and suddenly there are thousands of likes and tens of thousands of followers. It takes time to build up credibility and an audience. So it’s really about making sure that your model can adjust as the environment you’re working in adjusts.

MOC: Great information to know, and I think you were talking about metrics just a minute ago. So what metrics did you use to measure the success of your program? And is there any technology that plays a role in the management or measurement of employee participation and the success of this initiative?

CAPGEMINI: That’s a great question. And one that we have spent a lot of time considering how to measure in the old version of the program. It was relatively simple because it was measured on how many people were active, how much content was being shared, you know, how many clicks, that kind of stuff.

Simple, very simple metrics today because our ambitions have changed a little bit. So the metrics need to change and our understanding of what they should actually look like. In an ideal world, we would be focused on one metric, which is revenue, and you generate it, right? Because ultimately, that’s why we’re in business, to generate revenue.

But for one, it’s not that simple. And two, if that number goes up or down, you need to understand why. And so that requires us to look at lots of other factors as well, while taking into account the fact that it’s not that easy to get a holistic picture, you know, and that makes life very difficult for everybody.

How do you measure the success? One thing we ended up with is that we have a kind of a tool, a visual aid to help us. Because for us, as I mentioned, it’s long-term. It is about a journey.

It’s about putting our employees on a journey to a kind of influence, which doesn’t mean we’re expecting everybody to end up with, you know, half a million followers, but we call it a maturity grid. It’s basically a scatter chart where we’re able to plot people’s activity and see it over time, and it’s really about plotting behaviors. So are they behaving in an influencer-like fashion? That’s looking at things like, obviously, network size, but then network growth, engagement rates, activity levels, you know, are they commenting on other people’s content, stuff like that. I think we have a pretty good way of understanding what the data is showing us now.

But it’s tough and I feel like it is a necessary evil to understand, because you can’t just start posting and suddenly your network’s going to grow. So for those community managers, it’s about giving them the tools they need, the insight they need, to be able to tell somebody: well, yes, you’re publishing consistently. That’s great. But your network’s not growing. Why do you think that is? Well, if you look at your activity, that’s all you’re doing, you’re just posting content. You’re not engaging with your audience. You’re not responding to comments. You’re not liking other people’s content. You’re not commenting on other people’s content.

So you’re not being a good community member. And yes, when you’ve got scale, you can’t expect everyone to just spend time going through everybody’s LinkedIn profile feeds, for instance. So it’s about giving them the metrics and being able to show them. And I know that our advocates really appreciate this sort of visual aspect to it, so that they can see literally this sort of journey for them, going up to the top right corner.

So that’s been really useful. And then, well, how many people are active and understanding why those people are active? Why have they not logged onto the platform recently? We’re not sharing content, that kind of stuff.

MOC: Maybe you could talk about what advice you would give other companies out there that are looking to scale their own employee advocacy program to a global level. Or maybe you have three key recommendations that you could provide them so that they can implement something today.

CAPGEMINI: I would say the main thing is kind of what I said towards the beginning about segmenting, you know, if you have a scale similar to ours or greater; if you talk about rolling out a program for all of them, that’s a big mountain to climb. Advocacy is not easy because you are fundamentally dealing with people and emotions, and that one thing about advocacy is that for some people, the idea of sharing content on LinkedIn is intimidating, right? That’s putting yourself out there and it doesn’t come naturally to some people to say, “Hey, I’m an expert on this topic,” and it makes you vulnerable, right?

There is a very emotional element to all of this. So to try and treat all your employees as one isn’t practical or possible. The more that you can segment, the better. And one thing we’ve really learned is about core, really key things about picking the people that you focus on and that you invest in, because somebody can be a great candidate on paper, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to do it.

And no amount of emails and conference calls and training sessions or whatever will make them do that, will make them sacrifice a bit of their time every day to spend on this. They just won’t. And so it’s “pick your people carefully.” I would start with leaders, start with leadership.

Because that for us has been a big thing, that once you see your leadership is active, then they are highly visible within the company. Of course, that attracts more people who say, “Oh, that looks good. I think I will do that, too.” And then after that, it’s about, okay, what are your priority areas? Or particular roles, you know, do you want to focus on sales, social selling? Is it about talent acquisition and so on with all of this? It’s the community approach, I think it’s the one that works best. So you focus on a community of people, with a community manager there to be a cheerleader for the program, to answer questions, to share great content, and get people enthused about it and able to talk about success.

MOC: Okay. So segment, pick your people, start with leadership, and I’ll go with community approach. Would you agree with that?

CAPGEMINI: That sounds good to me. Of course, there is content as well. You know, content is king, but I would say actually people are king really, in an advocacy conversation. But of course, they have to have good content to share.

MOC: Got it. Great. Well, Joe, thank you so much.

Here concludes this episode of “Masters of Comms.” If you’d like to listen to the entire interview, it’s available for download here. And don’t hesitate to join for future episodes of the podcast, where you can get transformative communication techniques, straight from the pros. Thanks for tuning in!

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