The Ultimate Checklist for Launching Your Employee Advocacy Program
When you’re starting an employee advocacy program, there are many moving parts, and it can be overwhelming. While the scope of an advocacy program may differ from company to company, there are a few fundamental activities that just about everyone needs to tackle.
Check them out below.
Define Your Objectives
Without clearly defined objectives, your employee advocacy program will never take off. You have to ask yourself: Why do you want your employees on social media? What do you hope to accomplish?
As you answer those questions, you may have qualitative objectives, which may involve creating better conversations with customers. Also, you may have quantitative objectives. For example, empower 500 employees to have a presence on Twitter by the end of Q4.
Regardless of what your objectives are, here’s the process that you’ll have to walk through.
Identify the key groups/departments that will participate in your program.
Sit down with the key stakeholders from each department. Discuss what your audiences have in common. Why would your audiences want to hear from your employees?
Now that you understand your audience, brainstorm qualitative objectives for your program
Also, create a list of quantitative objectives for your program
For your quantifiable objectives, identify the metrics by which you will measure your success (e.g. leads, clicks, etc.).
Assign numeric values to each of those metrics. For example, we will generate 100 leads from our employees in the first two months.
Make sure that your key stakeholders agree on the objectives.
Choose Your Technology
Depending on your business objectives, there are different solutions available to meet your needs. Use the process below to find and buy an employee advocacy platform that is right for your company.
Write down your goals for the project – What are you hoping to accomplish by implementing employee advocacy software?
Create a list of potential vendors.
Create an evaluation timeline – How long will you take to evaluate the solutions?
Establish feature requirements – What are your must-have features?
Establish evaluation criteria – What type of scale will you use to score each vendor?
Assemble a team that will manage the solution, and run your evaluation criteria past them.
With your team, demo and score the vendors.
Talk to references about your vendors.
Choose a platform.
Work with vendor to create a deployment strategy.
Work with vendor on platform training timeline.
Need more help? Here are 20 questions you can ask when evaluating employee advocacy platforms.
Create a Social Media Policy
Before you jump into an employee advocacy program, you’ll want to create a social media policy for your company. This resource will ensure that your employees comply with your program, and it will outline the rules of what employees should and should not do on social media.
Read over state and national laws about social media policy. (Here’s the latest from the FTC.)
Brainstorm rules and guidelines about what employees should do and what employees shouldn’t do.
Review and refine your ideas.
Finalize your list of guidelines.
Format your list in a visually appealing way.
Share the social media policy with key stakeholders for their review.
Receive your legal team’s approval.
Get Executive Buy-in
You need to articulate your vision to your executive team. Why? Because every project needs a visible and vocal champion in a leadership position.
This person advocates for your project in disputes, planning meetings, and review sessions. She will take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that your project is completed successfully.
Here’s how to find your executive champion.
Identify the person who initiated this project and find out why the project was started.
If the project initiator is not in a leadership position, brainstorm executives who can reap benefits from the project and who will lead by example (i.e. already use social media).
Pitch the program to your top candidates.
Assess how interested your candidates are and how much help they’re willing to provide.
Choose your top candidate.
Speak with your sponsor and reaffirm your project’s objectives.
Develop specific plans for involving your project champion throughout the project and keeping her informed of your program’s progress.
Make your sponsor visible. Draft a letter or create a video script for your project champion to read. Share with your advocates.
If you need help convincing your executive team of the merits of employee advocacy, here are two resources you can use:
Create a Content Plan
Content is a key ingredient for any employee advocacy program. Without educational blogs, white papers, infographics, survey reports, and videos, your advocates will not be able to spark conversations and build trust with buyers.
Familiarize yourself with the 4-1-1 rule so that your advocates share content that won’t annoy their followers.
Identify broad themes that will interest your employees and their followers.
Indicate which types of content you want to promote (e.g. blog posts, videos, infographics, mainstream news, etc.).
Determine how you will organize your content distribution internally.
Consult with the marketing department to align your content initiatives with their calendar.
Identify the individuals who will curate content and sample messages for your advocates.
Create a hashtag that your employees can use when sharing content about your company and its products and services. (See the FTC’s latest rules.)
Recruit Your First Advocates
Without advocates, you don’t have a program. So, how do you go about recruiting them? Here are the steps that you need to take:
Start your program with customer-facing departments like Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success.
Identify your advocates who are already active on social media.
Determine the size of your group. Usually, you want to keep it small at the beginning – perhaps 25-50 people.
Create incentives for participants, like an ongoing rewards program or company-wide recognition.
Personally invite your advocates to participate.
Avoid the term “employee advocacy” as you recruit. Your employees won’t know what the term means. Instead, stress the idea of using social media to achieve personal business objectives.
Stress that this program is voluntary.
Looking for more help with the recruitment phase? Here are two great resources:
Train Your Advocates
If you want to see results, you’ll have to train your employees and standardize best practices across the enterprise. As you think about training, consider two types of training. First, training on social media. Second, training on your employee advocacy platform.
Identify who will be in charge of enablement.
Assess your employees’ social media skills.
Identify common areas of improvement.
Offer skills-based training sessions on social media (e.g. How to use LinkedIn to prepare for a sales discovery call).
Offer training classes on the employee advocacy platform.
You made it! Pat yourself on the back! There was a lot to get done. You’ve settled on your business objectives, chosen a platform, written your social media policy, created a content strategy, found an executive sponsor, recruited your first group of advocates, and trained them.
Now, you’re ready to launch!
Need help launching your program? Feel free to contact us. We’d love to discuss your specific needs!