5 Barriers Holding Back Your Employee Advocacy Program

Many companies are relying on employee advocacy programs to build brand awareness, engage their buyers, and drive sales on social media. Unfortunately, many companies mistakenly think that implementing an advocacy program will be simple. You simply ask your employees to be active on social media, and voilà, you have an employee advocacy program, right?

In actuality, the path to implementation contains several barriers. But don’t worry! These barriers are surmountable – as long as you’re prepared for them. So, with no further ado, here are five common barriers holding back your employee advocacy program – with tips on overcoming them.

1. Poor Timing

Before you launch an employee advocacy program, identify any competing company initiatives. Let’s say that you want your salespeople to be active on social media, but you plan to implement a new CRM in Q1. Since you’ll have to train your salespeople on the new technology, Q1 probably would not be the best time to implement an employee advocacy program with your sales team.

In addition to identifying any competing initiatives, take the time to create your timeline for implementation. And make sure that your timeline is realistic! If you plan on onboarding 100 employees over the course of 9 months, that’s way too slow. But if you plan on onboarding 1,000 employees by tomorrow, that’s far too aggressive.

2. Lack of Content, Especially 3rd-Party Content

For an employee advocacy program to work, you need content for employees to share on social media. Without content, your advocacy program will never take off.

But here’s the thing: You have to give your employees content that they want to share, and research shows that they want very specific types of content. They want to share a mixture of 3rd-party and company-created content.

Why third-party content? Employees don’t want to feel like company spam bots, who just share company press releases and blog posts. Instead, they want to build their personal brands and supply their followers with a wide range of insights. They’re particularly interested in industry news:

A good employee advocacy platform will make it easy to find third-party content, especially industry news.

3. Unclear Objectives

Before you can successfully launch your advocacy program, you need to understand your objectives. You need to know where you want to go and how quickly you want to get there.

Keep in mind that your objectives will change as your program matures. In the early stages of your program, our customers look at participation rates. Are the employees you’ve invited actually participating?

Later on, our customers typically want to look at engagement metrics: likes, clicks, retweets, favorites, reach, etc. These numbers are good indicators of whether their content and messaging are resonating with their employees’ followers. Does their audience care about what their employees are saying?

Finally, our customers focus on converting those likes into leads. Once they’ve reached “ROI Nirvana,” they know how to connect their content strategy to leads and ultimately to revenue.

4. Divergent Employee Interests

How an engineer wants to use social media is different from how a salesperson wants to use social media, which is different from how a recruiter wants to use social media.

As you can imagine, launching an interdepartmental employee advocacy program is extremely differently. Each department has different professional goals.

As a result, our customers find that their employee advocacy programs are more successful when they empower one department before adding more departments. Often times, it’s best to start with your customer-facing departments.

For example, you might start by empowering your marketers to build brand awareness on social media. Then, help your salespeople engage in social selling. Next, you might help your recruiters build an employer brand.

But avoid trying to do everything all at once. You will spread yourself too thin.

5. Complex Technology

Your social media managers have built domain expertise on social media. As a result, they need powerful tools to build your brand across social channels.

The average employee, however, does not have the same expertise as a social media manager, and as a result, giving the average employee a high-powered social media management tool will be overwhelming.

To get your employees to use social media, you need to select the right tool. It needs to be advanced enough for your socially savvy employees, yet simple enough for newbies on social networks. It should make finding and distributing content easy, and it should provide employees with easy-to-understand stats that help them track their performance.

Launching a Successful Employee Advocacy Program

Building an employee advocacy program takes careful planning. Program managers must consider the timing of the launch, their content strategy, their objectives, their technology requirements, and their “land and expand” strategy within individual departments.

If you’d like more help launching your employee advocacy program, check out Employee Advocacy 101: The Rise of the Employee Marketer.

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