Employee’s Advocacy: fine line between Chaos and Propaganda
I often have “discussions” with Social Media Marketers regarding “Employee Advocacy”.
Employee Advocacy is clearly the buzzword of the moment (or maybe it is Content) and it looks like every company is embracing this – as social media monitoring a few years back, without much of a plan/ strategy.
Don’t take me wrong. Employee praising their companies in Social is a great thing. However, it is naive to believe that any conversation/tweet/exchange between an employee and someone outside is a good thing, provided that the employee is positive.
Here are situations where this would actually hurt.
- Your sales team is in a middle of a fierce negotiation with a prospect and an employee with no knowledge of the context or authority on the deal is jumping in, and engages with prospect’s employees, creating noise.
- A junior employee engaging with a competitor CXO’s, an analyst although not qualify to comment on behalf of the company.
- An employee soliciting people from another firm publicly.
- An employee engaging conversation with an exclusive client who has a dedicated account manager.
- In short, employee engaging in conversations where they don’t have the expertise/knowledge.
These are just examples.
I remember when working for HP, being quite confused when someone would ask me to fix problem with his/her printer or provide discounts to buy tablets. ( my track record with printer is VERY bad).
I always attempted to redirect them to people who could really help but this was frequently felt as an avoidance strategy.
There is no such a thing as a one size fits all “Employee Advocacy program” or “Employee Engagement Program”. Sales, Marketers, Engineers, Evangelists. Execs, Legal, … all should use Social a different way and engage with people outside that are relevant for them and (sometimes) for the company.
As Jim Fields (SAP) – @fieldsjj – puts it
“Look at how to enable each of our employees to become an ambassador for the company and an ambassador for the brand in a way that is true to their role in the organization and their ability to be a voice for us within their various networks and with their social constituents.” ( http://www.convinceandconvert.com/podcasts/episodes/make-your-employees-your-greatest-social-asset/)
Employee Engagement cannot be: let everybody be on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram and talk to anyone on behalf on the company and go for it or (which is the same), let’s deploy an Advocacy solution, train the people and make sure they use it.
Going the other way round and establishing PR lead and “Official accounts” as the only voices of the company does not work either.
I see many companies, including private banks & exclusive brands !! using generic Twitter accounts to engage with dissatisfied clients and it is usually a pretty bad move. These clients are worth $100K’s and have dedicated account managers. They should be the one to jump in.
So what is the right approach?
The right approach start with strategy and mapping.
It requires structuring the engagement so that every team is lined up with its appropriate target audience/tribe and we recommend the following steps:
- Define roles, responsibilities, objectives and metrics
- Specs policies
- Map audiences and align audiences to roles in the company.
- Train employees
- Deploy starting with the employees who are the most Social Savvy