4 Common Employee Advocacy Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

4 Common Employee Advocacy Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

Overcoming employee advocacy challenges could determine the long-term success of your social media advocacy programme. Employee advocacy is a long-term process that aims to engage and influence employees within an organisation such that they acknowledge the need to advocate for their employers in an online setting. It is, therefore, not transactional or an “event” so you cannot do it once and move on.

 

Hence, at the centre of every employee advocacy programme is the need to continuously communicate why employee advocacy matters, and to overcome the challenges that prevent long-term success.

 

Do the rewards outweigh employee advocacy challenges?

With the increase in employee advocacy in recent years, companies have encountered a host of challenges that could limit success.

Companies that adopt employee advocacy as part of their overall strategy reap many benefits. A Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today survey reveals some of the benefits. Let’s start by enumerating some of the benefits to the company:

  • 79% of companies see an increase in brand visibility
  • 44.9% realise increased web traffic
  • 11% say that their sales cycle has shortened

And that’s not all. Employees of these companies report direct professional benefits because of taking part in employee advocacy programme:

  • 87.2% of employees expand their professional networks
  • 76% say that the programme helps them to keep up with industry trends
  • 47.2% have developed skills in high demand

With these benefits, it is no wonder that companies strive to overcome the barriers to success in employee advocacy. In this post, we identify the four common challenges in employee advocacy, and how companies might overcome them.

Employee Advocacy Challenges: We have no content to share

Generating content for employees to share is daunting for many companies. Part of the challenge might be about who will write, approve, curate and manage the content. A good content marketing strategy will support a lot of the effort that goes into developing engaging content. Have an owner for content management and a process for collecting and approving content. Remember that not all your content needs to be written by your company. Look out for other content by third parties and industry news feed that your customers will find relevant.

Employee Advocacy Challenges: Our leaders are not active on social media

It is difficult to sustain an employee advocacy programme without the buy-in of your leaders. The ideal situation is that your CEO and senior executive are active on social media, and advocate alongside employees. But the reality is that this is not always the case – and it’s a challenge! Whether or not your leaders are active on social media, leaders should openly support and recognise the value of employee advocacy. Drive engagement through middle managers who can be role models, and are closer to the day-to-day operations. Middle managers are often more visible to employees.

Employee Advocacy Challenges: Employees think being on social media is Marketing’s job

The Hinge and Social Media Today survey also reveals that 51.7% of employee advocacy programmes are owned by the Marketing department. While it is common for Marketing departments to own social media programmes, it is not the sole role of marketing. The benefits of social media transcend just marketing so it is important to help employees see why employee advocacy matters while keeping participation completely voluntary. This is arguably the greatest challenge to companies. The most impactful incentive for motivating employees is the continuous communication of the importance of social media as reported by over 40% of companies.

Employee Advocacy Challenges: Employees are worried that they will do the wrong thing

A social media policy and a set of guidelines are one of the first things a company needs to put in place before any employee advocacy programme. If your guidelines aren’t clear or they contradict what you are asking employees to do, you are unlikely to generate participate from your staff. Nobody wants to inadvertently do the wrong thing and risk disciplinary action or worse. Ensure those clear guidelines are easily accessible to employees looking for more information. Have a contact person that can answer any questions about the use of social media in an online business setting. This person should be visible, able to give or organise training at a basic and advanced level for all employees who intend to take part in employee advocacy.

Final words

You might look at the benefits of employee advocacy and think that there is probably just as much in it for the employees as there is for your company. That’s correct! Therefore, communicate why employee advocacy matters and equip your staff with training and guidelines. Ensure that everybody knows where to go to for resources and support. That way, common employee advocacy challenges will not hinder your success.

See our book on social media advocacy
 Feature Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
A version of this article was originally published on the Smarp blog on 13 June 2017.
10 Best LinkedIn Articles Every Tech Entrepreneur Can Learn From

10 Best LinkedIn Articles Every Tech Entrepreneur Can Learn From

YO! Marketing entrepreneur in marketing strategy in Aberdeen
Photo courtesy ofGarrhet Sampson

Last year, I compiled 10 LinkedIn articles that inspire me as a start-up founder and entrepreneur.

The topics covered span from intellectual property, organisational culture and self-disruption. I have added my key takeaways for 2017, a good reminder for me as the year reaches a halfway point.

1. GUIDE TO TECHNICAL SUCCESS FOR A STARTUP – VARUN BATRA

Varun Batra discusses the pitfalls of choosing the wrong tech-stack at the onset of your tech startup. He explains that the focus of an entrepreneur should be getting an MVP out in the shortest possible time. Two ways to work smarter: Stick with one or two technologies or Start with one or two technologies. Reading time: 3-5 minutes

2. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY BEHAVIOUR: THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR IP – AKEEM FAMUYIWA

This is an insightful article for any entrepreneur with an idea. Intellectual property (IP) can appear complex but Akeem Famuyiwa does a good job of explaining the different kinds of IP, licensing and how structuring a licensing deal can have significant impact on long term business growth. Reading time: 5-7 minutes

3. MINIMUM VIABLE TECHNOLOGY (MVT) – MOVE FAST & KEEP SHIPPING – AJAY SHRIVASTAVA

Talk about a timely article! This article came up in my feed at a time when I was making decisions about building a minimum viable product. Ajay Shrivastava talks about speed, technology and agility. Must read if you’re building anything for customers. Reading time: 7-10 minutes

4. HOW DO YOU CROSS THE CHASM & THE TIPPING POINT? PART 2 – HANS PETER BECH

I failed to save the part one of this article but you can find it here. The second part of the article follows on to discuss how to pass the tipping point. Passing the tipping point is crucial for market growth. Hans Peter Bech gives great insight into how to increase market share using techniques like customer segmentation and facilitating your buyers’ journey. Great read as you make inroads into your target market. Reading time: 7-10 minutes

5. 6 WAYS BUSINESSES CAN ADOPT A GROWTH MINDSET CULTURE – SARAH GOODALL

Sarah Goodall wrote this article in November 2016, and it is one of my favourites. I’m a huge fan of enabling organisational culture because I think too many companies leave culture to chance. Sarah discusses how organisations can develop a ‘growth’ mindset (and move away from a ‘fixed’ mindset). She touches on learning through failure, continuous feedback and flatter organisational structures. Reading time: 5-7 minutes

6. OILFIELD ENTREPRENEURSHIP – IS SPE READY FOR A ‘STARTUP VILLAGE’ AT ATCE? – JANEEN JUDAH

Janeen Judah is the 2017 SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) President. In this article, she called for a Startup Village/Fair at conferences such as ATCE. The oil and gas industry is overdue for innovative disruption. Therefore, this is exactly the kind of idea that should be getting overwhelming support. Reading time: 3-5 minutes

7. STOP WASTING TIME DEFINING YOUR ORGANISATION’S VALUES – STEFAN NORRVALL

Following on from my love for great organisational cultures, this article challenges the idea of value statements, an approach that Stefan Norrvall notes is ineffective if they are not linked to the behaviours, systems and symbols within an organisation. Particularly in cases where values change often. What’s the point? I agree, Stefan! Leaders must walk-the-talk for the talk to be real. Reading time: 5-7 minutes

8. WHO ARE PRODUCT MANAGERS AND WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER HIRE A GOOD PRODUCT MANAGER FOR YOUR COMPANY – SUHAAS KAUL

This intriguing title engaged people like me, people who are developing products that will eventually need a product manager. Suhaas Kaul discusses the difference between a good product manager and a great one. You want a great product manager as a merely good one is simply not good enough. Reading time: 7-10 minutes

9. BUILDING INSANELY GREAT PRODUCTS BY DAVID FRADIN – UDAY KUMAR

On the topic of products and what makes great ones, David Fradin’s book appears insightful. The book is on my reading list for this year (I will get to it). According to Uday Kumar, the book is dedicated to enhancing the chances of product success and reducing product failure. Reading time: 3-5 minutes

10. HOW TO DISRUPT YOURSELF – 5 LESSONS FROM PEOPLE WHO’VE DONE IT THEMSELVES – WHITNEY JOHNSON

I recently came across Whitney Johnson, a leading management thinker, author and host. This article is fantastic if you are an entrepreneur who wants to make a real difference. Whitney’s examples are inspiring. Do you want to fill a niche with your strengths? Do you learn from failure? Then read this, oh, and follow her podcast, ‘Disrupt Yourself Podcast’. It promises brilliance! Reading time: 7-10 minutes

Key takeaways for 2017
  1. Start with the minimum until you have find what your customers want.
  2. Look for a niche market where you can gain market share using your distinctive strengths.
  3. As an entrepreneur, always be thinking about your company’s culture from day one and ensure your systems, behaviours, processes and leadership team align.
  4. Your product or technology is the core of your business so get advice on the right IP to protect it.
  5. Innovation will keep you ahead in the market, regardless of industry. Be ready to disrupt even yourself.
A version of this article was originally published on LinkedIn on 31 December 2016

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