Begin your employee advocacy program on the best foot by choosing the right advocates from your team.
So, you want your business to join the third of high growth firms who have enabled an employee advocacy program (Hinge Marketing). Smart move and there’s plenty of great advice out there on how and why your program will work for you – check out our own article here on creating a program that’s built to scale. At the heart of your advocacy engine are your employees, and you’ve got to pick the right ones to help build and eventually grow your program.
Which employees make the best advocates?
All of your employees can become valuable ambassadors for your brand online, especially as you probably expect them to be so everywhere else. But the reality is that everybody is different. Depending on the size of your team or company, your employees may come from a wide spectrum of ‘savvy-social-sellers’ to ‘technophobes’ who haven’t looked at their LinkedIn page since they created in in 2010.
So, it’s not necessarily a case of finding out which ones make the best advocates, it’s about prioritising which ones will be best to start with. In this free infographic that we released on our blog, we highlighted four key traits of a social employee. Take a look at them now and if you can think of anyone in your team(s) with any of these traits then you’ve just found your first recruits to your advocacy program. If you know somebody with all four, then you’ve probably already got yourself an advocacy champion!
People with these traits are already on a good footing, which will help them understand what it is you want to achieve from your own program and also how it will benefit them. To put it simply, these people just get it. Employee advocacy isn’t just a marketing tool or a tactic, you need to think of it more as a culture that casts its light on many areas in your business. Cultures can’t be taught the same way as a skill, because it requires someone to understand the ‘why’ more than the ‘how’. So, it makes sense to first enrol anyone who is already immersed in that social culture, and worry about the how in your next steps.
Which employees won’t make the best candidates?
With every ‘Ying’ there is a ‘Yang’ and for every yea-sayer there is likely to be one or two nay-sayer too. The fact that a small or even large proportion of employees don’t understand or agree with being asked to share company content has been enough to put some businesses off of the idea completely. Don’t let this be the case with you! Trust us, even without these people, your advocacy program can enjoy success. In fact, it’ll probably enjoy more.
For some quick candidate-weeding, I’ll mention the name of someone who can be found in just about every office… ‘Negative Nigel’. Does your office have one, that person who immediately says ‘no’ to everything? If you can think of one (or more), cross them off your list completely, at least to start with anyway.
Our own studies have shown that 60% of employees who aren’t currently enrolled in an advocacy program, wish they were. These are the people you should be targeting your focus on. Don’t waste time trying to win over the Negative Nigel’s of this world as it will slow down your progress, not to mention you’ll feel like banging your head against your desk.
If you have a group of willing candidates that don’t quite fit the skillset, don’t rule them out. Spending a lunch-hour or a coffee morning doing some social media training can be hugely worthwhile to your business. Especially when you consider that each advocate enjoys twice the engagement on a post than their company’s own account.
While they may not be the right advocates to kick off your program, once your advocacy leaders are up and running it’ll be even easier to bring them aboard. Let’s not forget that social media and online communications have become an essential skill in most jobs now, so you’ll be doing them and your brand a huge service in enrolling them.
We usually end these sorts of articles with next steps but assuming you’re at the beginning of your advocacy journey, we’ll just revise that first important point we made. Look around your team to make a list of those shining-social-stars. Present them to your idea and the benefits to them, you'll start building your program with just them in the beginning.
The more trust and value you put into them now, the more influential they’ll be when the program is up and running. Try to include them in demo calls if you’re looking to enable specific software or call on their council for creating rules for your program.