4 Steps to Start an Advocate Community

4 Steps to Start an Advocate Community

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Are you thinking about turning your employees into brand ambassadors? Do you want your employees to advocate and represent your brand online? If your answer to these questions was a big, resounding yes, then you'll find the answers you seek in here!
You'll get some unique insights into how to start your first advocate community: from identifying the right employees for the job, to the launch!

Building a community is an awesome way to engage your most loyal followers within your company: your employees. They are your most trusted people, they know the ins and outs of your company, and in most cases, they will be proud to talk about their company on social media.

A community usually targets only a small group of employees, those who you know could be the best ambassadors. But where to start?

In this article, we'll share with you some tips, insights, and the little know-hows we’ve learned from and recommended to our customers.

1. Identify the right employees

When you want to build an advocate community, it's important to first start with a small-ish group of employees. The reason why is that you can easily keep an eye on how everyone is doing, gauge their response, easily collect feedback from them, and prepare the community to be the best possible for when the rest of your workforce will be invited to join in. 

So, who should be the lucky pilots of this endeavor?

Our suggestion is to take a field trip to the IT department or the Marketing team and identify those employees who are used to handling software and new technology.

The Social Media Team would be our very first choice here, since it's usually packed with tech-savvy employees, some Gen-Xers and Gen-Zers who'll be more than happy to take you up on the use of a new platform and be the stars of your new community. But think also Communications, Sales, etc. those people probably already know the power of word of mouth and will jump gladly on board. But, anyway, you know your employees better than us, you get the hang of who you should be looking for.

A person who in the past was willing to share content or vote on questions relevant to your business is advocate material. After all, these are the kind of actions that will result in added value for your brand.

With these people on your pilot team, you'll be able to create a basic community where they can play around and interact with your content, and start representing your brand online.

2. Start with a pilot community

The idea here is to provide your pilot employees with an experience that resembles the one your entire advocate base will be getting once they are invited to join the community, too.

The advantage for you here is that it's much easier to get continuous feedback, make small tweaks, collaborate with them in setting up several kinds of challenges and create a community that truly meets their needs.

To make sure people quickly familiarize themselves with the tool and with the type of experience you're going for, at Ambassify, we usually recommend publishing a combination of polls, voting, and sharing challenges. This allows your pilot employees to test interact with different kinds of content and allows you to test their reaction against a subset of the content that will be available in their community.

The value you attach to each of these individual challenges depends — now but also in the actual community — on the qualities you are looking for in your advocates and in the overall goal of your advocate community. 

If you are looking to create a retweet army, you are most likely going to attach more value to the Twitter sharing challenge. While a brand that is looking for input from its advocates might be giving more importance to feedback-gathering ones, such as polls.

3. Define and align your goals

The first thing that should be said here, is that everything takes time. Especially something like an advocate community where you're introducing a new piece of technology and a business strategy to go along with it.

Our suggestion is to start small with easily attainable goals (onboarding a certain number of ambassadors, for example) and then expand into something bigger as your ambassadors become more and more accustomed to the community, start feeling more engaged, and begin to deliver the first actionable results.

What you want is to gradually build a habit: with time, it will be almost a reflex for your employees to consult the community and see what kind of content shows up.

One thing to bear in mind at this point is that not all advocates give you access to the same audience, and not all advocates will be as interactive. For this reason, it is very important to align your goals with the segment of users who will be included in your community and tune your expectations accordingly.

Depending on the overall goal of your community, you will want to create different kinds of campaigns and challenges for employees to interact with, and different content for them to share. Say that your goal is to enhance your online presence and improve your employer branding, you will most likely create lots of personalized campaigns for your employees to share with their networks why they love having you as an employer, etc.

4. Launch the community

Once you've perfected your community together with your pilots, defined the goals of your advocate community, and you've prepared a small library of challenge ideas for them to participate in, you are ready to launch your community to the broad public — aka, your entire employee base.

This part can be tricky, granted. But think of fun ways to promote this within your company, spread the word about the initiative, and make it easy for your employees to want to be your brand ambassadors. Now, if you'd like to see some more specific tips on this, feel free to check out our blog article on How to ace the onboarding of an advocacy platform!

You will find your ambassadors are much more willing and eager to interact with your content when you take the time to customize it. So, try to include a variety of content so that everyone can find something that resonates with them, switch up the requests you make, and try to really turn them into your collaborators. You can find a concrete example in the story of one of our customers, Helan, and how they leveraged in-house creativity to enhance their employer branding!

A community is not only meant to provide value to you, your advocates will need things from you as well. Make it clear to them that they do have advantages (for example, you can think about installing gamification and rewards to make their whole experience a whole lot more fun), show them how they can truly benefit from it, and make sure to listen to their needs and feedback. 

There you go, here are the 4 essential steps to start your first advocate community!

Are you ready to start?

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