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June 27, 2018
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August 21, 2018

Advocates: Building Your Brands Army

In the latter part of my career, I focused on a lot of programs like influencer marketing and employee advocacy, that focused on empowering and enabling internal and external advocates.  The objective was pretty simple- scale a team by growing an army that can cover more ground than you could in a day, week or month.  Not your typical objective for programs like these, but that’s because I’m looking at it from a different and more realistic perspective. That is when an organization will not provide support or the budget that you need to scale programs like social customer support or influencer marketing.  It doesn’t matter how big or small you are. At some point, we are all plagued with having to prioritize profit margins over the sanity of a team or even yourself.  That’s why in order to scale you have to empower and enable others.  In this blog, I’d like to tackle employee advocacy first.

Employee advocacy is probably one of the easiest, dare I say, ‘lowest hanging fruit’ and probably the most impactful way to extends a company’s reach and brand presence.  An added bonus is that you eventually see that the employees digital behaviors have evolved.  It’s like those proud parenting moments as your kid grows up. By enabling your workforce you have also empowered them to have the courage to help the brand.  Having this kind of presence across the globe shows the community that the brand is more than just the CEO or the account manager that they deal with day in and day out.  Customers, partners, and prospects are now dealing with an army of advocates that have shown their genuine intent to help them through thick and thin.  So, let’s talk about how you can create an army of advocates.

You can start by making a ‘one size fits all’ training presentation.  In this presentation you will want to cover the following fundamentals:

  1. The evolved buyer: key stats that show digital trends amongst your buyers and how businesses need to adapt to be relevant during their purchase decision.
  2. Brands digital purpose and persona: Here you want to reference organizations mission, vision, and tone. The intent is to remind everyone that they are an extension of the brand and to keep that in mind as they engage in social.  In addition, we want to make sure that everyone understands that digital interaction plays an important role in building relationships.
  3. Brands current digital presence: Good to showcase where the brand digitally lives and the types of conversations on those mediums.  For instance, B2B IT community has the tendency to be more technical and hyperactive on Twitter because of the real-time nature of the channel versus LinkedIn where you tend to see less real-time banter.
  4. Social governance: Don’t shy away from this! Consider this topic a means of CYA and ensuring that employees are aware of corporate policies.  After all, these policies are intended to help us protect the brand and ourselves.
  5. Individual digital presence: This section covers what updates employees can make on their current social channels.  I also recommend providing guidance on selecting social channels that align with where their target audience lives and how that lines up with that employee’s role.  For instance, if you are a technical engineer and majority of technical conversations happen on Twitter or Reddit then you will want to build your presence there.  As these are the channels that you will have the highest impact.  Of course, it will always come down to the individuals’ comfort level.  Sometimes people prefer LinkedIn because it is relatively slower in nature and that’s ok.  Make sure to take baby steps with your audience as you guide them through their digital journey.
  6. Content Source: Big part of enablement is getting brand content into the hands of your advocates.  This can be done through employee advocacy tools like Dynamic Signal or XX.  However, if you don’t have the budgets then sometimes it can be something as simple as sharing Social Cheat Sheets that provide the user with the copy for each social channel and an image that they can use.  Another option would be to provide a second version of your social editorial calendar where the copy is adjusted to sound like it’s coming from a person.  For instance, you would replace pronouns us, our, etc. with the brand name.  (see below for example)
    • Check out our new blog on building your own digital army.
    • Check out @PegahKamal’s new blog on building your own digital army.
  7. Setting expectations: Whether it’s on a slide or something you point out, you will definitely need to do some expectation setting.  A lot of people have the misconception that as soon as they tweet they will get a mass following and be YouTube stars.  It’s your responsibility to identify benefits that they will reap over time and how you will be measuring their business impact.
  8. Summary: Now that this deck has covered some serious ground your audience might have the case of glossy eyes.  So make sure to highlight at 3 to 5 key points you want them to walk away with.
  9. Next Steps: List out action items that they can do either in the room or when they get back to their desk.  Encourage them to connect with you on LinkedIn or Twitter and that way you can see if they actually did their ‘homework’.

Next, you’ll want some kind of reward system and fun contests that will continue to encourage employees to participate.  The great thing about employee advocacy platforms is that they have the analytics and tools to help with this.  It is definitely a lot harder to execute a contest without a platform that has the ability to track performance.  I think we’ll save this topic for another blog, as we have just covered a lot of ground.

In the meantime, you should have a good place to start building your army.  To help get your training presentation started, I’ve created an easy to use template based on the outline provided above.  Remember as you go through this process you will need to continue to educate, encourage, and acknowledge your advocates as they embark on this journey with you.  There’s nothing like the feeling when an advocate shares a story of their most recent social engagement.  It’s definitely a proud ‘mama or papa’ moment.

Hope this blog was helpful.  Please share any questions, feedback or general thoughts in the comments below.  Would love to know what you think!

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