It is very easy for businesses to become seduced by the power and influence of social media as a way to project brands; and the idea of using employees as storytellers is a real and authentic way to bring you brand to life. Employee advocacy or amplification is a growing trend in organisations, there is huge value to be had in using your employees to tell your story through social.

But there are some key things to consider when looking at employee advocacy, jumping feet first into the world of social present both opportunities and risks. An employee advocacy strategy should be built on the back of a strong foundation of engagement – if you are going to ask your employees to tell your story, you want to be confident that they understand what it is and buy into it.

Some of the key considerations for an Employee Advocacy strategy could include:

Culture

One key thing to consider is that your culture is aligned to a ‘social way of doing things’ before you embark on an Employee Advocacy journey. If you aren’t using (enterprise) social tools inside your organisation, it is unlikely that you are culturally set to start looking outside.

Enterprise social is a powerful and authentic way to give employees a voice in an organisation; it helps connect together communities of common interest, and enables employees to build internal networks. It is also a very credible mechanism to drive engagement as it drives your storytelling from the bottom up, rather than the top down.

A social culture is a key to looking towards employee advocacy as a way to amplify your brand. Often you will find that the content and campaigns you are pushing inside your business will also have relevance outside. It also gives you a safe place test ideas before asking your employees to start engaging with campaigns where you have limited or no control over content.

Content & Campaigns

If you are looking at Employee Advocacy it is important that you have a clear idea about the stories you are looking for your employees to tell. A good way to regulate this is to use campaign led storytelling with a social hashtag.

An example might be that you want to run a campaign that brings to life your organisations commitment to the customer. By creating a hashtag led campaign (e.g. #youmatter) you can ask your employees to identify great examples of customer service to share through social channels. This is the type of campaign that can cut across both internal and external boundaries.

If you have a thriving enterprise social network inside your organisation you can also use this as a source to mine great content for external social. It is sometimes difficult to source employee stories in big organisations, so have a tool that gives you reach into the business is a huge asset.

Employee Advocacy can take on different levels of maturity. In the early stages, it is worth regulating the stories you share – mining your content from inside your organisation to amplify the stories that are a real fit with your brand. As you progress on the maturity model, you can then begin to find ways that employees can use individual networks and social accounts to share stories.

Channels & Education

One of the biggest traps you can fall into with social is to take a scattergun approach to channels. There are so many options, and the landscape is always evolving. Think long and hard about your audience before signposting to a channel. Every social channel has its own very unique USP and caters to different populations of people. Just because an employee might have a snapchat account doesn’t mean that is the right channel to share content.

If you want to develop a socially enabled business with employees as social advocates then it is worth encouraging your employees to understand the landscape. As the workforce demographic begins to change in the next decade, the understanding of social in organisations will continue to grow as the social generation begin to influence the future of business.

Regular masterclasses can be a good way for employees to keep up to date with channels and what is happening in the social landscape. It is also worth helping your employees understand social personas and the influence of different social channels can have in your networks.

If you are going to get the value you are looking for with Employee Advocacy then it is worth investing in education. Another effective way to provide support is to mobilise your network of Digital Champions to provide guidance at a local level – this group will be the population in your organisation that have a real passion for social and digital.

Summary

Although there is some key considerations to make when starting on an Employee Advocacy journey it is also important not to over engineer your approach. Social is real time and instinctive, and that is often where its power lies.

The single, biggest thing to consider with Employee Advocacy is your baseline of Engagement. If you want your employees to tell great stories about your business, it is important that they think and feel it is a great place to work.

Although it is tempting to dive feet first into the world of Employee Advocacy (as it is sometimes easier to do than fix problems inside) just make sure you and your employees are ready before taking the plunge!

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