This is part 2 of a two-part post; check out Part I here.

How can you get buy-in for an employee advocacy program?

  1. In order to truly encourage employees to engage in an employee advocacy program, you must start with defining and demonstrating how actively engaging in the program will help them increase their visibility amongst customers, influential decision makers, colleagues and industry influencers. Yes, that’s right — I also said demonstrate. That means you’ll need to develop case studies / real examples for employees to reference to help them get the picture.
  2. Start by designing education and support materials around common questions and objections employees have. If not answered from a benefit or position of value, employees will not adopt.
  3. When you design the program with these objections/questions in mind, you’ll learn more about what employees are experiencing and you’ll be able to create a playbook. This in turn becomes a helpful reference as you extend the number of program managers and participants. You can evolve it over time. Consider deploying a learning hub with a forum component that allows you to gather feedback and field questions. If employees are heard and secure support when they ask for help, they’ll increase their engagement.
  4. Be sure to educate them so they understand how engagement will help them work more effectively, efficiently and last but not least – – how they’ll get recognized for their efforts. It truly is a critical foundation that many brands miss when designing employee advocacy or social selling programs, often thinking that gamification or leader boards are all it takes to drive engagement. While these may help, I’ve learned that the most important and highly regarded form of recognition employees seek is visibility, you can read more about that in this post: What’s the #1 incentive employees seek from an Employee Advocacy program?

What employee advocacy questions are employees likely to have?

  1. Why is engagement on social (for business/professional) something worth my time?
  2. Why me? Isn’t this kind of engagement for an intern who knows how to engage on social?
  3. Why should I focus my time on this when I have all these other pressing demands in my job role?

Which then leads into several other questions such as:

  1. How do you define “engagement?”
  2. What is expected of me?
  3. How will I be measured? Compensated?
  4. What are the guidelines?
  5. What training is provided?
  6. Will I be assessed for this?
  7. Is this mandatory?

Defining the employee advocacy value proposition

The key here is to define the value proposition from the vantage point of the employee who will in the end be the lynchpin of the programs adoption and engagement success. The answers must be defined as benefit statements for the adoption and engagement … such as the benefits of:

  • How sharing and receiving knowledge helps them access to new ways of thinking, access to answers for challenges they’re grappling with and learning from someone who’s already figured it out
  • The benefits of being positioned as a thought leader, networking and relationship development, and how they’ll tap into the intellect of influential prominent thought leaders that are paving the way

The program foundation must include guidance for employees, a playbook that anyone in your company can tap for engagement guidance, it includes such topics as:

  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Access to FAQs and directions for access to “go to contacts” for further help
  • Brand engagement guidelines
  • Safety and Security
  • Disclosure
  • Basic training portfolio

Tying employee advocacy adoption to existing trainings and skill development

Consider:

  1. Certification of completion is tied to learning/training objectives for all employees and is tied to skills development requirements, qualifications and assessment criteria used by HR and Management in the review, talent advancement and acquisition system.
  2. Focus on adoption and engagement for key segments of your employee population that will help achieve the highest priority business goals first, then expand from there.

What other challenges and tips/ideas have you seen in the employee advocacy space?

About Susan Emerick

Susan Emerick is recognized by industry leaders as the foremost authority on building, implementing, and measuring successful advocacy programs for leading brands.

Susan is the co-author of The Most Powerful Brand on Earth: How to Transform Teams, Empower Employees, Integrate Partners and Mobilize Customers to Beat the Competition in Digital and Social Media – A must read for anyone striving to build brand advocacy.

Prior Susan led global enterprise social business and digital marketing programs for IBM where she led the technology giant’s social media strategy including social media listening and planning, brand engagement guidelines, social media governance, policy and measurement standards.

She serves on the advisory board of Social Media Today and is an active member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association where she serves on the Research and Measurement Council, and in 2013 she co-authored the WOMMA Influencer Guidebook. In 2011, Susan was named to the elite iMedia Top 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators.

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