This week, Wing Digital Marketing‘s fifth, #InfluenceNow Twitter Chat saw us ask the question, do your employees advocate on your behalf?
The chat takes part weekly, Thursdays, 4pm UK time, 12pm Central USA, and allows participants to drop-in and out of the chat as they please.
As the questions are posted onto our founder’s Twitter account, we simultaneously share the questions on the Wing Digital Instagram account in the form of Stories, and also, in a trial, as a video round-up on TikTok.
This week we hosted InfluenceNow alongside Andrew Seel. Andrew is the Cofounder & CEO of Togethr: UK’s leading employee advocacy marketing platform.
Hear what the informed and the experts had to day on the topic of employee advocacy.
Q1: Can you define Employee Advocacy?
“Employee Advocacy means that a company workforce (employees) decide to promote and make other people aware of a company, its products and services This only happens when employees are really satisfied/happy with the company they work for” Eva Caletkova
“Well then, there you have it, if employees sign-up, it means they’re seeing the mutual benefits and in turn, your business is doing something right” David Wing
“Employee Advocacy is often seen as the promotion of a company by its employees. The aim is to engage customers/prospects and potential recruits. But it can – and should – be so much more than that. It is not simply sharing a brand message or brand content.
The goal of Employee Advocacy is for an employee to inform, educate and engage people online (be that customers, prospects or talented potential hires) with their own personal expertise and personality.
Employee Advocacy works when employees are empowered to share *their* voice. When they actively go out and help/educate customers/prospects. This is when it begins to grow a brand” Andrew Seel
“IMM, Employee Advocacy is enabling your employee population to share their views and perspectives on corporate and technology topics through social and P2P interactions” Paul Dobson
Q2: With your employees working tirelessly for you already, what are the benefits of employee advocacy for them?
“That’s often the 1st question I’m asked – what’s in it for employees? Shouldn’t it be marketing doing that job? To be successful, Employee Advocacy needs to make it about the employee. Don’t ask them to promote your brand – ask them to promote themselves.
EA should shine a spotlight on employees by allowing them to become go-to sources of information online. It should enable them to grow their personal brands. It’s a win-win for the brand and employees.” Andrew Seel
“Nice point. Just telling them they should do it, won’t work” Tom Augenthaler
“When we talk about employee advocacy internally, we tell team members that it’s an opportunity to grow your network, show your subject matter expertise in a broader network and engage with other experts in the field. There has to be something in it for them too” Paul Dobson
“Programmes such as these might have frightened employers in the past – fear of their employees jumping ship after gaining notoriety” David Wing
“Maybe a lot of that. I think it’s more linked to ego though. Some execs don’t like the idea of rank and file employees having a larger social audience. Petty, yes” Tom Augenthaler
“It’s a common fear that people will leave – but unfounded in my experience. Better to have a fully engaged employee than not”
“Main advice: Instead of asking employees to promote your brand, ask them to promote themselves.
Customers aren’t usually interested if an employee keeps sharing brand content. Employees should share expertise with customers & building authentic relationships.
“Done right, EA helps grow an employee’s career. It helps them stand out internally and externally. It helps them build a better understanding and confidence in their own purpose” Andrew Seel
Q3: Where does an employee advocacy programme begin?
“There’s a number of answers to this. Most importantly, you need senior management buy- in – or they never get off the ground. Beyond that, you need to start with a small group and learn how it works for your company before expanding out.
The most important success factor in launching an employee advocacy programme is the support and training you give your employees…
… so start with a pilot and build on your own learnings. Test the water. Watch for ripples Test & learn, scale up from there. – Gather info specific to your company – Who should be part of it – What motivates them to post – What do customers engage with? Andrew Seel
“I agree with Andrew, that the impetus/buy-in needs to come from the top. In terms of content, then focus on the strategy and ensure that you give everyone the room to be as authentic as poss. Building a program built on a thick rule book is destined to fail” Paul Dobson
“It has to begin and end on benefits / value for the employees. It can’t be one sided” Evan Kirstel
Q4: Can you highlight a successful, ongoing programme wherein employees have made a significant difference to a brand?
“At the centre of great programmes is an employee entertaining or educating others – customers, prospects, potential hires. This is the case whether its B2B or B2C.
John Lewis – retail giant in the UK launched put their expert personal stylists at the centre of their programme. They share their expertise with customers via a team of insiders and personal stylists – they’ve been making waves on social for a few years now2 Andrew Seel
“The best ones revolve around a relationship between internal comms, social media and execs – when you’re launching a new product, you need to get the (sales) employees excited about it, because customers/prospects are more likely to trust their contacts than corp accounts” Paul Dobson
Q5: Are there limits to employee advocacy in terms of the size of a business activating such efforts?
“Absolutely not – the more the merrier, providing unique perspectives increase the relatability of your content, and help start convos, whether you’re in a Chamber of Commerce or in a larger broader public forum” Paul Dobson
“Nope! Turning your employees into your biggest advocates works for a business of 10 or 10,000!” Evan Kirstel
Q6: How does a brand manage a programme that allows for employees to speak on their behalf?
“The old way was to focus on brand promo – asking employees to amplify & reshare brand content. It doesn’t inspire readers or employees. The new way is to focus on helping others. Give employees the skills to create their own content & grow an authentic voice.
Start by finding champions, show what’s possible. But then you need to build employee confidence step by step. Initially they can reshare content but quickly move them to commenting and engaging with others.
You’re looking to build human relationships through conversation & comments.
Empowered employees on social = brand growth.
Key things for success: – Get management involved – Set boundaries – Train staff – Give them ongoing feedback – Give them time. Andrew Seel
“Time is a great provision. Especially when setting goals or setting employees off on a new path” David Wing
“We have clients who give their top advocates specific time to create content – makes a huge difference” Andrew Seel
“People make a lot of money answering this question :-).
Too controlled, it defeats the purpose; too lax, it goes off message – providing guidance around messages and some potential copy helps, but authenticity and personal perspective is king” Paul Dobson
Q7: How might we incentivise participation in an employee advocacy programme?
“Simple. DON’T focus on directly incentivising participation – it can get wrong results. If only reason employees get involved is for incentives – unlikely to keep going for long A successful programme ultimately comes from a culture which empowers employee’s.
There’s 2 things you can do: Make it fun and Make it easy. Make it FUN. Make it a community activity. Make sure they know what others are doing within the company. Share the best examples with the group. Set challenges.Make it EASY:
Give specific permission for them to take time to be active on social; Give ongoing coaching; Build confidence with personalised feedback; Provide regular templates to speed up writing. Remind them to share” Andrew Seel
‘Remind them to share’…yes!!!! David Wing
“Completely! – seems like a small thing – but makes such a difference” Andrew Seel
“I agree with Seelpod – incentivizing people means the focus is on the reward rather than on what you are trying to achieve. If there are incentives (not a fan), make sure they aren’t related to the number of messages, rather the conversations that are being had” Paul Dobson
Q8: How can employee advocacy encourage recruitment within a business?
“Employee Advocacy is one of the key drivers for recruitment – volunteer days, employee meetings, above and beyond the core run of business all contributed to a fuller and more believable picture of what a company is actually like” Paul Dobson
“It’s one of the first things people do when looking for a new job – check out employees on social.
One of THE key benefits of #EmployeeAdvocacy is attracting quality talent to the business. But this only works if the content shared by employees feels natural and authentic. Polished videos about what a great place it is to work don’t really cut it.
But a powerful culture of empowered employees sharing their knowledge and expertise…that’s something special. Employees becoming a leading voice in their community of peers is a powerful way of attracting quality talent to your business.
It signals that great people work at your company… you understand your customers; you have passion for your work!” Andrew Seel
Thank for reading our week 5, #InfluenceNow twitter chat review.
If you found this blog post useful, let us know in the comments and don’t forget to tune-in for Week 6 #InfluenceNow @djwing_wing where we’ll be discussing how Marketing in the Metaverse with special guest expert, Dudley Nevill-Spencer.