In late 2017, Senior Marketing Manager of Social Media Lauren Cochran launched H&R Block's employee advocacy program, Block Talkers, as a pilot. This past year, she's helped expand Block Talkers into a full-fledged program across the organization.
The program originated from the need to give passionate employees a tool to promote the brand.
“We have over 80,000 associates across the U.S. who are really passionate and want to promote the brand via social,” Lauren said. “We were looking for a way to give them better tools to do it well.”
“We wanted to help our associates take their personal brand and expertise onto their personal social channels,” Lauren said.
Getting the pilot off the ground required a lot of planning and help from other teams within the organization.
Lauren created the pilot to prove the value of an employee advocacy program, with the longer-term intent to scale it across the organization.
“We worked with leadership to determine what would be a good test,” she said. “We identified what segments of the organization were most important to include in the pilot.”
As the pilot structure and participants were solidified, Lauren also worked with cross-organizational teams to set up the platform and content strategy.
Next her team had to develop content calendars and a content production process to ensure they would be able to deliver enough content every week.
The last key step in the launch was to execute an internal communication campaign.
“We used our internal intranet and email resources to help people understand what the program was, why they should join, and why it was valuable,” Lauren said.
This tactic resulted in a robust pilot that was also exclusive enough to create demand from other associates to join.
All of Lauren's work has been paying off — the program is yielding excellent results.
“At the start of the process, we established a KPI scorecard that we shared with the leadership team who sponsored our project. At the end of the pilot period we reported on that scorecard and across the board we met or exceeded all our benchmarks,” Lauren said.
The program is receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback internally as well. “Not only did we have great results data-wise, so many people were appreciative of the program, and they told us how much they love it,” Lauren said. “Hearing how valuable of a tool it is, especially for our retail associates, was great.”
Lauren said the biggest challenges she faced were producing content and navigating a completely new frontier.
“Planning and generating the content takes a lot of work; it's the heartbeat of the program,” Lauren said.
Because the program was a completely new endeavor for H&R Block, Lauren emphasized the challenge of learning and optimizing as they go.
And when the pilot launched a year ago, Lauren was essentially a one-woman shop. “Thankfully I've got somebody on my team now to help support the program, and I have a couple other team members helping with run-program things like content production,” she said.
“One of our goals in the pilot was to learn what it takes to run the program and make sure we had the right resources. And we learned it takes a lot.”
According to Lauren, this program went a long way for H&R Block; a historically conservative company.
“It's so great to provide a social program that is valuable to the associates,” Lauren said. “Not only did our employee advocacy program deliver external results, they also positively impacted the internal cultural of our company.”
“Our program really helps make people feel more comfortable promoting our brand in social media and gives them more ownership of the brand,” she said. “I love that we're able to help evolve our culture that way.”