AT&T: Activating Employees as Social Advocates — Live from Member Meeting 30

Coverage of this session by Evan Perkins of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

1:31 —'s Erin McDaniel introduces AT&T's Senior Manager of Emerging Communications, Lee Diaz.

1:32 — Lee: The AT&T Social Circle is AT&T’s brand advocate initiative. It started as a pilot program in 2009, and now has 1,500 employees sharing information on their own channels.

1:33 — Lee: Really, the program is about keeping a very personalized and customized focus on the content.

1:35 — Why use employees as advocates? They are an amazing resource. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family. 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a product when they hear about it from someone they trust.

1:36 — Lee: You need to provide your employees with the tools and information they need to get participation. Many won't be comfortable from the get go, so they need the tools and information to get them started.

1:37 — Employees are an amazing resource. You need to tap into the existing knowledge, networks, enthusiasm of our most social employees. Start by recruiting and mobilizing a small and effective group to give real voices to your company.

1:39 — Start with informing your employees on how they can expand their personal reach. Give them tools but also give them a sense of belonging. You also need to train realizing that people have various levels of experience. AT&T built one-sheeters to help train employees on commonly asked questions.

1:40 — Lee: AT&T realized that most people don't need the “why” behind social, but instead need to know how to get started!

1:41 — AT&T has over 250K employees, so they needed to decide to who could participate in the program based on some requirements. First, they decided to reach out only to exempt employees. The second requirement stated that the employee needed to be active on platforms for at a least 90 days (they ended up ditching this requirement because they can start with employees from day 1).

1:43 –Lee: The biggest change they've had is the inclusion of their employee advocate hub. Prior to that, they were doing everything by email which did not prove effective.

1:44 — AT&T added a hub to centralize the content and the employee advocates. It allowed their advocates to explore all of the content in total and decide, for themselves, when and how they would share. This gives lots of freedom!

1:46 — Lee: The centralized hub allows AT&T to share content immediately, make announcements, etc. It was important that the employees can access the hub from any device. They used SocialChorus for the hub, which includes the embedded hashtag.

1:47 — Your advocates need to be able to able to customize the content to match their own voice, style, etc.

1:48 — Lee: It is also key for your employee advocates to engage with one another, too. Help them connect to one another. AT&T has an internal platform called tSpace which is available only to their advocates. It's a great resource and open forum to connect.

1:48 — They use tSpace to ask their advocates, “What do you want more information on?” — this makes them better advocates because they can grow in spaces that are personally valuable to them.

1:49 — Lee: AT&T also likes to Spotlight and Award Excellence. This is a great way to surprise and delight your employee advocates. Lee says they also work with legal to make sure the proper policies are in place.

1:50 — The results of AT&T's program: They have over 1,500 advocates that have done over 20K posts and generated over 400K audience engagements.


Q: Does the social hub allow you to do calculations from within or do you need to do them manually?

A: Lee: Yes, SocialChorus does the math for you. It is also highly customizable.

Q: Can you tell us how large your social media group is?

A: Lee says that this program is run by two people, him and a content writer. He runs member on-boarding and management and she runs all the content.

Q: How do you differentiate from BtoB to BtoB?

A: Lee: They identity their own content on their hub by starting it with brackets outlining their intended audience. They do less BtoB with their advocates.

Q: Is tSpace proprietary?

A: Lee: They use IBM Connections for tSpace. It is highly-customizable but the functionality is out of the box.

Q: Is their an alert system attached?

A: Lee: Yes, we send alerts that hit our employees email box.

Q: How did you assign values to the media value?

A: Lee: SocialChorus has standardized the value based on various data points. We really just go with these and they seem to match up.

Q: Have you done any research about how this program helps employee retention or morale, generally?

A: Lee: We do a feedback study annually to check on how their people are enjoying the program. Many employees love it because their follower count grows tremendously.

Q: How did you find your employees who were already active in social?

A: Lee: We were doing read-outs on who mentioned AT&T in their social profiles. It was manual in the beginning, but now we just reach out to everyone and announce the content that we’re sharing. From there, our employees can decide if they want to join.