How to Gain Internal Support for Your Employee Advocacy Program
As Director of Customer Success at PostBeyond, I’m used to receiving lots of questions around the value of employee advocacy, one of the most common of which is around gaining executive sponsorship and buy-in from the rest of your team.
Picture it this way: you’re a digital marketing manager at an enterprise company. You’ve been hearing a lot about employee advocacy and how it can help with brand recognition, social media metrics, or earned media value. And on top of that, adopting an employee advocacy program puts you ahead of your competitors. It would position your enterprise as a leader in digital transformation. Seems like a good idea, right?
Absolutely. But convincing the rest of your company might be a bit of an uphill battle. Different departments have different needs, and your executive leadership are guaranteed to ask the tough questions.
But there are definitely some approaches that we’ve found to be successful when speaking with all of the different internal stakeholders, and we’d love to share them with you.
Gaining Executive Sponsorship
As the leader of digital change, you might face a lot of pushback from executives. After all, there are tons of new tools and platforms – why should we invest money in this one specifically?
This is a perfectly valid concern. Fortunately, employee advocacy isn’t exclusively beneficial for the marketing team. There are tons of use cases that span across the entire company, so it’s best to position the platform as a business-wide initiative. (Our Top 10 Use Cases for Employee Advocacy eBook does a great job of compiling the different applications our platform has throughout the enterprise. Give it a read here if you need some inspiration!)
Executive buy-in is critical to the success of the program. I think the best way for your employees to see the value in the program is to see their leadership team engaging in it, too.
My advice is to hold executives to the same standards as you would your employee advocates. This means asking them to share regularly and encouraging certain behaviours (like editing the post captions.)
The idea here is to get their honest feedback. They’ll have a good understanding of how the platform works from a user level, and then they can give you their thoughts. Criticism is necessary! Your executive team’s top priorities are the wellbeing of employees and customers, so if they express concern over how employee advocacy will benefit those parties, this is perfectly reasonable. The most you can do is gather all of your research, approach the situation from a factual POV, and offer the best proof you can.
Remember: no is an answer. Procurement can often be an issue of timing, so if you receive a no, that’s perfectly fine! Employee advocacy is a pretty big shift for a company to undertake, so try to remember that what’s happening behind the scenes may prevent such a large change from being possible at the moment.
Support from Content Creators
On the note of this being a big undertaking, I have one piece of advice for content creators: make use of the team you have!
This can be social media managers, content writers, digital marketing managers, or even your content agency! If you have a robust team at your disposal, you should absolutely involve them in the implementation and management of your employee advocacy program. Building a content engine is not a one-person job.
In fact, we suggest involving all department heads that have a stake in communications. This means Corporate Communications, Internal Comms and HR, too. Find out what KPI’s would matter to them (Earned Media Value? Increased employee engagement?) and share how plan on measuring those throughout the program.
Getting the support from other business units is invaluable to you, because it gives a larger scope of communications efforts at your enterprise. It’s a great way to make sure that your employee advocacy program isn’t being measured according to one business goal.
Onboarding Your Employees
Remember that feedback you collected from your executive leadership team?
This will definitely come in handy when you’re positioning the platform to your staff. All of those questions about usage and value – you might hear them again from employees. The best approach here is to find out what matters to them and highlight that value. Will your staff care about Earned Media Value?
But will they care about sharing content about the cool stuff your company is doing? Like a charitable initiative? Maybe so. And this is what will pique their interest. Be sure that you can answer the “what’s in it for me?” questions with value that resonates with them.
The tricky part here is that everyone will be coming with different skill levels. There are usually four areas of skills that will sometimes intersect:
What’s important to remember when speaking to your team of staff is that everyone is coming from different skill levels. Someone may have a high degree of social media experience from their personal life, but may be a bit disconnected from industry knowledge. And if we combine that with new team members who are still learning the ins and outs of your branding, it’s easy to see how content sharing can get a bit confusing.
So what I recommend is creating awesome training material that covers all of your bases. Assume that everyone is starting from 0 in all of the categories listed above, and walk them through how to use the platform in the simplest terms.
Videos are especially helpful here. They’re easy to distribute, and they’re easy for employees to learn from.
You’ll want to have a casual tone when creating these types of training materials, and humour never hurts either. Social media is meant to be fun after all!
These training materials should be included in every new hire’s onboarding, too. Your company’s social media policy should clearly outline what’s appropriate to share on social, and of course, this document should be updated as new channels or policies emerge. If you’d like to give your existing social media policy a quick audit, check out our guide on How to Create an Employee Social Media Policy to see where you stand.
Leading the Change
Employee advocacy is an exciting new idea that comes with a shift in attitudes toward social media and the workplace. If you’re considering it for your enterprise – you’re already ahead of the curve!
Sharing your excitement about the program with your colleagues is a great way to get the program off the ground, but it’s important to remember that support from internal stakeholders may not be immediate. You’ll have to prove the value of employee advocacy to them in a language they understand.
This can be bottom line ROI metrics, department-specific growth metrics, or even personal motivators like making social media sharing more intuitive.
It’s no small task, but it can definitely be done. And we’d love to help make it happen for your enterprise 🙂