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.
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