Before Sarah Manning began an employee advocacy program at ServiceNow, she was the only employee working in social.
The key is to communicate how much it can benefit the individual's personal brand on top of the company's social presence.
But why go at it alone when you've got thousands of employees — many of whom are already talking about their jobs on social media. Sarah, who's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2015, says she noticed the need for an employee advocacy program when she began monitoring her brand's share of voice.
“I not only saw the desire with our employee base to get involved, but I also knew the value it could bring our company. Because it was just me working in social at the time, we were under-resourced — so I knew getting our employees involved could make a big impact.”
She began with a weekly email newsletter sent to a handful of employees, but the list quickly grew through word of mouth.
The emails were a digest of content for the week and included pieces of collateral from the past month and suggested posts written for LinkedIn and Twitter. Sarah says she made sure these emails were “opt out” and only sent them to employees who asked for them.
But then, employees began forwarding these emails to their co-workers and recommended people for Sarah to add to the list. Their CMO requested that she send it to the whole Marketing department.
Sarah also presented at weekly new hire orientations and plugged the social media digest as a way to stay up to date on content and participate in growing the company's social presence.
As the email list grew, Sarah knew she needed to evolve the advocacy program into something more sophisticated.
From the initial 25 members Sarah had hand-picked, the list had grown to around 400 employees. But with just a weekly email, Sarah didn't have any insight into if employees actually took action.
“I wanted to put some numbers behind what we were doing and start to prove the value with metrics,” she says.
So she chose an online portal to make it easier for employees to manage and schedule their posts and measure their own effectiveness.
Sarah invests much of her time into advocacy training.
I wanted to put some numbers behind what we were doing and start to prove the value with metrics.
While she made sure to choose a vendor with a simple interface, it's still important to not only get employees on the portal, but also active, and that takes some encouragement. Sarah held a live, 15-minute training and recorded it so that the video is required watching for anyone who signs up for the first time.
She also takes the time to have 15- to 30-minute one-on-one sessions with anyone who asks.
“That can take a lot of time with thousands of employees who may be knocking on your door, but I really believe in teaching people how to fish. Once you teach one person, perhaps they can teach one of their colleagues, and they can be self-sufficient. That's why I take the the time to train employees one-on-one whenever I can.”
Their employee advocacy program has had the best response from the sales field.
She's had invitations from several sales groups to their regional staff sales calls so she can train all of them at once. Now, Sarah looks forward to developing a formal social selling program.
“I think the future of social advocacy is putting more rigor around tracking top-of-funnel leads from the program and showing a real business impact.”
But the program has also been a resource for career development. For example, one solutions consultant created a Twitter account and started live-tweeting from an event on the same day. Sarah says he now has a couple thousand followers and has become somewhat of a thought-leader in their area.
“The key is to communicate how much it can benefit the individual's personal brand on top of the company's social presence.”