This week the PM Forum hosted a fantastic session with Yvonne Boateng, employee advocacy expert and Director of Social Media Advocacy at Standard Chartered Bank on how to implement a successful employee advocacy programme.

In simple terms, Employee Advocacy is the promotion of an organisation by its staff - and when done correctly employees become brand ambassadors and can play a key part in promoting the values of a firm, driving new business, attracting new talent.

Yvonne talked about a H2H, or Human-to-Human approach, rather than a B2B. Business buyers buy into your people and your approach, so perhaps it is not surprising that content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by corporate social accounts (Social Media Today). 

How to make your Employee Advocacy programme a success

Yvonne highlighted that "Content is at the heart of a programme - without it, there is nothing to share". This is perhaps where employee advocacy programmes have fallen down in the past. 

Content, at a minimum, should be of genuine interest to your employees' connections otherwise they will not share it. Or worse, if they do share, it'll waste your clients' time. 

One way to ensure content is authentic and on point is to have your employees involved in creating it. Subject Matter Experts are the most trusted individuals within an organisation (see here from Edelman), so if you can empower them to create and share their own content, you can be fairly certain it will resonate with the intended audience.

The collective social reach of employees is enormous, and as Yvonne pointed out, engagement is also 8x higher, so with helpful relevant content first and an effect way to distribute it, you are on to a winner. 

Yvonne's top tips

  1. Set clear Social Media Guidelines - Let people know what they can and can't do. This should be to support and encourage the use of social media, not to restrict it.
  2. Establish goals and objectives - Define what you want to achieve from the employee advocacy programme, these objectives could focus on Brand Awareness, Sales/Lead, or Recruitment. 
  3. Assemble a task force - You will need Leaders, to set the EA strategy, Admin, to run the day to day task, Champions, who will promote the programme to their teams and colleagues and finally Executive Stakeholders, for sponsorship, buy-in and budget sign off.
  4. Decide the needs of your organisation when selecting the best tool.
  5. Create a content strategy - Work out your ideal mix of Thought Leadership, Employee generate and brand content. Segment, Tag, Catergorise content so users can find what they want to share
  6. Brand your programme - Give it a name/identity of its own. A few real-world examples Social Circle, Social Media Ninja Programme, #GoingSocial
  7. Onboard your people - In every organisation there will be people who are already active of social media, this is a great place to start. Highlight these individual and give them the tools and support to do even better. It's important to stress ( and keep reiterating) the What, Why, What's in it for me? 
  8. Post-launch, have ongoing communications to engage users. Provide updates, milestones example of good news or success stories from users on the programme.
  9. Gamification helps drive adoption. Recognise and reward your advocates
  10. Analyse and evaluate your result against your objectives. Communicate these result with key stakeholders. Report and revise, adjust and optimise going forward.