7 Steps to Building a Solid Employee Advocacy Strategy
If you're just starting out or just doing your due diligence on employee advocacy, you're in the right place. Here, we present to you the basic step-by-step backbone of the planning you’re going to go through when you set out to build your employee advocacy strategy.
Let us start this article with a premise or a disclaimer if you will. Building a strong employee advocacy strategy that truly brings your company the massive benefits you want is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and there is no one-size-fits-all kind of solution. Every company is different, but even more specifically than that, every employee is different, which means that not everyone will react to the same things or behave the same way.
That said, what we want to do here is give you the basic step-by-step backbone of the planning you’re going to go through when you set out to build your employee advocacy strategy. If you’ve never approached the subject before or if you’re just thinking about getting started with it and want to have an overview of things, this is the right place for you.
How to build your employee advocacy strategy
Without further ado, let’s delve into the 7 pivotal stages you’re going to want to go through when planning and building an employee advocacy strategy for your business:
1. Setting goals
Let me start you off with the question, “What do you want to do with this employee advocacy strategy?”
Advocacy can do a number of things for your business, but you need to understand what it is that you're trying to achieve with it specifically. Are you trying to have a positive impact on your company's bottom line without putting up too much money? Are you trying to improve culture? Are you trying to do both at the same time? Are you trying to increase brand awareness on a much bigger scale? Are you trying to bring together your employees across different countries?
The first stage of planning your strategy for advocacy is this: you actually have to sit down and decide what it is that you want to achieve with it because everything else will rest upon this goal.
2. Setting KPIs
It's got to be measurable. As with everything, you know, if it's not measurable, how do you know it's working? A good business works on good, solid data because a good business will be making business decisions based on that.
Setting KPIs is something that is directly linked to goal setting. Depending on the goal(s) you want to work towards, you will be setting different KPIs and keeping an eye on those. Our suggestion is always to start small, then grow as you go, together with your ambassador community — in other words, start with realistic and attainable goals to then move into more ambitious objectives.
3. Getting stakeholders buy-in
Stakeholders are the people who are gonna make the program happen — that’s why their buy-in is a must.
And beware: stakeholders are up and down; we’re not only talking about your directives. Sure, you have your C-suite and your managers — namely, the big decision-makers — but you have your employees, too. They all got to come along for the journey for it to really work. This is why it’s essential also to get their approval and make sure they are on board.
4. Incentivizing participation
Gamification is going to be one of the main ways to incentivize participation in the long run, but there are other ways to make sure your activation rate stays stable (or rises) and your employees are engaged.
Getting employee buy-in will come in handy at this stage. Encouraging participation is a non-stop activity you’ll have to pay attention to. You want to do everything to encourage employees to stay active, stay engaged, and gamification is an essential tool here. Gamification and rewards will make the entire experience more pleasant and entertaining for your ambassadors and keep them coming back for more. What that does, in essence, is it might encourage the more nervous, the more reticent.
5. Encouraging authenticity
What you want from your employees is to use their authentic and individual brand voice on social media.
You're not asking for a copy-paste scenario when they're sharing content. What you're asking them is to advocate for the company using their own voices is so it starts to encourage them to think about how they want to represent themselves on public platforms.
6. Providing training
Training is such a huge element because not only does it involve finding your way around the platform but also finding your footing when it comes to how best to interact on that platform.
When is a good time to be casual in your captions? What hashtags to use? We can provide suggestions for our ambassadors, of course, but what you don't want is forty or a hundred people all saying the same thing at the same time. It looks like you are literally telling your team what to do, which defeats the whole purpose of being authentic and leveraging that unique voice. So, you want employees to grow their own wings and get familiar with their own voices.
7. Monitoring and evaluating
You've gotta have kind of a regular check-in to see that it's working, to fine-tune your approach, to see whether or not you need more involvement in certain aspects or what to take out or even in cadence, how often are you making your social media about employee advocacy.
Monitoring and tracking internal performance (activation rate, engagement, etc.) and external impact (social media engagement, shares, impressions, etc.) is an essential part of a solid employee advocacy strategy. And one that will ultimately prove if it’s delivering the right results.