One thing to think about before you embark on an Employee Advocacy Program

From time time, we have marketers contacting us about Employee Advocacy programs and asking whether/how we can help.

I am usually offering them this short story.  “The Secret Life of a Standard Employee Advocacy Program”

===========    beginning of story ===========


1-  A Manager in a PR/marketing group (maybe back from SXSW) decides it is a critical program.

2- 10s,100s of employees are named ambassadors. A solution is purchased with content distribution, leader boards …

Everybody is highly energized and ready to go for it!

Early problems

3- “Ambassadors” have a job to do and they have difficulties keeping up with the amount of content and the time commitment. Some were not really using “social” in the first place. The ones that were already good at social don’t really feel like spreading marketing content to their contacts will help the company … and their personal reputation.
4- Corp Marketing pushes on training, content and rewards.

5- Since “productivity” is the issue, the centralized program automates more and more, sometimes even it takes over the social identity of the employees and tweet/engage in their names.

It can be automated so it can scale.


6- The audience of the employees who used to perform decently in social is turned off by the corporate spamming (same message every other day …) and they quit listening.


7- The problem is diagnosed as a lack of motivation from the ambassadors and the conclusion is either “social does not work”, “social does not work for us”, or “our employees can’t figure out social.”

=============    end of story ==========

If they don’t like the story, then I try to setup a meeting 6 months later.

If they do like it, then we start discussing an alternative approach to thought leadership / social selling: The grass roots one.

1) It starts by mapping the company and identifying employees who are already successful at social — usually executives and top performing sales reps.
2) The we build a “STAR” program, i.e giving “de facto” ambassadors more intelligence about the audience and better real time content. This way they can be strategic and more effective at social. They can also measure their progress and learn from their successes and failures.
3) Leveraging on the initial success, the program grows from few to more to many more.
As with many processes where change management is critical, grass roots is the way to go !

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