It's been about one and a half years since Melisa Chung helped launch Molson Coors' employee advocacy program.
As the Global Corporate Social Media and Digital Manager for the company, Melisa oversees social and digital components for Molson Coors' corporate brands. She works with each social lead as a governance council, providing thought leadership as well as standardizing processes, policies for global tools, and crisis management.
The employee advocacy program she manages, Beer Post, was originally started as a way to give employees better access to content they could share. She says it was a more authentic way to not only share resources from the company and the beer business, but also to more authentically engage with their employees.
To launch it, Melisa did what most social leads would do: Start with a pilot program.
First, Melisa's team used social listening to find their most socially savvy employees. Then, once those people were onboarded, they reached out to a broader audience from various disciplines and comfort-levels with social.
“We wanted to make sure this was a tool that every employee could use — not just someone in marketing, or sales, or someone who really loves social media,” Melisa says.
But to earn buy-in, Melisa spread awareness for the program from the bottom-up.
I told them that even if we do nothing today, our employees are already talking about our brands and sharing our stuff on social.
She says that while that approach was time consuming, it helped her earn cheerleaders and organic chatter for the program. By the time she brought the program to some leadership, they had already heard about it from their teams.
“It was about making sure we socialized the program throughout the organization. We wanted something sustainable, so we tried to share it with as many different people as we could early on to get them involved.”
Melisa says that helped her team work out the kinks in the program and address initial skepticism with a small group before bringing it to leadership.
Molson Coors' legal team was the first to raise a few flags.
But Melisa says she tried to explain the program from a risk mitigation standpoint.
“I told them that even if we do nothing today, our employees are already talking about our brands and sharing our stuff on social. Some people are doing it well, some people not so well. We want to make sure we're showing them how to do it properly.”
She explains that their employee advocacy program would be more than just another tool, it would also serve as a training tool to spread the word about their best practices and policies.
“We thought really carefully about the ‘what's in it for you' bit.”
Melisa explains that to make the case to employees outside of the marketing, PR, and talent acquisition world, they focused on two key value drivers:
- Personal growth and skill development: Learn more about social media and communication tools
- Providing a new, more engaging way to consume and interact with content: Learn more about the company, the community, and the industry
She says that with Beer Post hosted on an owned channel, it was also a challenge to integrate their communication.
It was about making sure we socialized the program throughout the organization.
Instead of making their employee advocacy program conform to a third-party platform, Melisa's team chose to create an owned channel for Beer Post. That way, they had more control over user management, tweaking the tool to their needs, and avoiding other pitfalls that come with handing the reins over to say, Facebook.
But with that control came the challenge of getting employees to adopt yet another channel they had to learn to use. Melisa says that's got them thinking about ways to integrate communications from a broader perspective.
“Our employee advocacy program started from making things more socially accessible, but it's merged into a holistic way of thinking about how we communicate and engage with our employees in general.”
Since launching, they've well exceeded their initial goals.
Their target expectation was to get 30 percent of their office staff participating. But in nine months, two out of three business units had surpassed that goal, with the other third not far behind.
- Start small.
- Work hard to clearly define your objectives.
- Develop a strong content strategy.
- Work out kinks you find in the pilot.
- Most importantly, spend time to socialize your vision and program.
Follow Melisa on Twitter and ask about her favorite summertime beer. She's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014.