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Let's evolve the conversation about employee advocacy

All of us, including me, have been saying this for years – that companies need to empower their employees to engage externally in social media for a variety of reasons. Employee advocacy is the way to do that.

I’ll name a few:

  • They are trusted as external spokespersons

  • It increases morale when employees feel empowered, trusted

  • Using social tools can also increase productivity internally

I think it’s time to move beyond the “brands need to join the conversation” and that “they need to be transparent and open up the firewall for their employees” types of conversations. These are things that we all know intuitively and there are hundreds if not thousands of blog posts, articles, and infographics that convince us of this fact.

Let’s talk about the “how.”

For companies that believe and trust in their employees; how do they strategically enable them with the tools, training, content and “best practices” to engage successfully on the social web?

Here are 5 thought starters to get you on the right path:

  • Start small: Don’t think you can just open the floodgates and have everyone start blogging, tweeting or participating in the community. Pick 5 or 10 employees that already have some level of social proficiency and ask them if they would like to participate. You can’t change the organization over night. Start small, get some wins, establish a model that works and build.

  • Training/Governance: Create social media curriculum or better yet an internal certification program. Some topics can include platform best practices (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, communities, etc.), how to be more conversational, following and engaging with influencers and brand advocates and what to do if they come across a potential crisis or customer support issue. Lastly, recurring meetings should be scheduled to share best practices, content sharing, editorial focus, etc.)

  • Implement Tools: Find a platform that can scale employee participation. I wish a tool like this existed but it’s not quite there yet. Some platforms to consider would be Sprinklr, Spredfast, Hearsay Social, Kapost and Vitrue.

  • Manage content: This is by far one of the biggest challenges that face the enterprise today. There needs to be a strong operational plan that manages the content creation, distribution and publishing process. Here are some tips that might help.

  • Make it fun: Gamification should not just be used externally to drive fan/community engagement and participation. The same methodology can be used internally as well. Rewarding employees for their participation achieves two things (1) they will create and share more externally and (2) there will certainly be an increase in morale.

Note: this post was originally written on August 23, 2012.


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