Identify the right employee advocates to get the most out of your social media advocacy programmes.
Social media advocacy has become a key mechanism in B2B marketing. Allowing employees to promote your brand, products and services could significantly shorten your sales cycle and improve employee engagement. It is also a relatively low-cost way to increase your brand reach.
However, engaging on social media isn’t for every employee. Participation must be optional, empowering employees who have a combination of skill, interest and credibility.
Social media advocacy, who will do it?
A good first step to selecting employee advocates is to develop a sound understanding of the appetite for social media participation within your organisation. One useful approach is to create a survey that asks employees key questions about their social media activity. The survey should find out some of the following things:
- Social media platforms used
- Frequency of use
- Mode of engagement i.e. whether they create, engage or just skim content
- Willingness to share content on behalf of your organisation
Keep the survey anonymous, identifying respondents by department/level, e.g. sales, customer service or team leader, manager etc. and by office location for instance. You can create your own questions or use existing ones.
Here are five ways to select employee advocates:
1. Credibility and influence
Employees who already have a strong presence on social media could be highly valuable to your social media advocacy programme. Such employees are probably well respected by their peers, and regularly engage online in a professional way. Moreover, they are likely to be not just content sharers but also content creators. This is a highly valuable characteristic as research has shown only 1% of social media users will fall into this category.
2. Involve senior leaders
You might find that the best advocates are your senior leaders. Whether you are bringing a new product to market or reinforcing your brand values, senior leaders as employee advocates could provide real impact online. Their participation also motivates employees, giving them role models that walk-the-talk. However, be mindful that getting senior leaders to actively engage online requires active support in areas such as time management.
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3. Some functions have more appetite
When it comes to social media advocacy, you can assume that employees in marketing, sales and customer support services will have more of an interest in getting involved. Therefore, engage these departments as advocates, at least to get the programme started. Depending on your industry, employee advocates in technical functions might be extremely valuable to engage. But don’t worry if technical employees e.g. engineers aren’t keen. There are several ways employees can get involved in social media e.g. “listening” in on online customer conversations and finding solutions to their challenges.
4. Engage where your customers are
Sometimes, it will come down to location. If your business strategy is to increase market penetration in a specific region, it might make sense to get mass social media participation in that region. The web is global, but there is value in a customer knowing that they can contact an employee who has shared some useful information about a product – knowing that the employee is local, and more likely to be able to meet them in person to discuss their needs. This might be just what a customer needs to make a final decision on a purchase.
5. Train existing social media users
Employee advocates should be social media users. Trying to convince employees to get on social media, solely for the purpose of becoming advocates doesn’t work. But not any social media user will do. Ensure that the employees have appropriate guidelines and training for how you want them to conduct themselves on social media. Also, consider focusing on one platform at a time e.g. LinkedIn or Twitter, providing not just education around social media policies but education on the idiosyncrasies of each platform.
You don’t need an army of a 100 employees to begin your social media advocacy programme. Ultimately, you should start with a few early adopters – then grow!
This blog was written by Yekemi Otaru and originally published on the Smarp blog con 28th March 2017