Zealous Wiley on Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s employee advocacy program

For this interview, we sat down with Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Web and Social, Zealous Wiley to talk about Hewlett Packard Enterprise's employee advocacy program supporting the enterprise software business, its goals, the platform, and rolling it out to the business. Zealous has been a member of SocialMedia.org since January 2014.

“Employee advocacy isn't just a marketing strategy, it's a business strategy.”

Zealous Wiley, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Web and Social at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, says that with 86 percent of IT buyers using social media to make purchase decisions, their employees' involvement in social media is no longer optional.

“Our enterprise software employees have very strong networks that extend far beyond the corporate channels,” explains Zealous.

In fact, studies have shown there's only an eight percent overlap between a company's Twitter followers and the people who follow that company's employees.

Plus, Zealous says, “Our employees' networks are more likely to engage with and trust content when it comes from them.”

With an employee advocacy program, they plan to increase awareness, gain share of voice, influence, and accelerate purchasing decisions, as well as generate preference for their enterprise software products and services.

To get started, they chose EveryoneSocial as their employee advocacy platform.

The Hewlett Packard Enterprise software business looked for a platform that was easy for users (as well as admins) to use, could accommodate their complex business structure, and would scale quickly. They also needed a mobile component.

“We wanted a platform that could support all of our different business units and that advocates could use to share content from anywhere at any time.”

Zealous says a successful employee advocacy program has three components: Executive support, training, and activation.

“At Hewlett Packard Enterprise, we're lucky to have executive support that embraces the convergence of employee branding and corporate marketing. That's very important.”

To roll it out, they started by recruiting employees who were already active bloggers or had strong social presences. Then, he says, they began onboarding hand-raisers from other teams interested in the program.

But simply asking employees to become social marketers doesn't work. Training is important not only for the platform, but also for best practices when it comes to engagement across social channels.”

“We make training about the employee.”

Zealous says they start with the teams closest to the end-user, like the sales teams and product marketing teams, who talk to customers and prospects. Zealous and his team might give the sales team a LinkedIn optimization workshop showing them how to improve their profiles and social selling, for example.

“By helping employees understand the why and the how of using social media in a professional setting, we've found at Hewlett Packard Enterprise that many will be willing to advocate for the company,” he explains.

In the future, they're considering offering certification, badges, and increased gamification. They're also reaching out to experts within specific areas of Hewlett Packard Enterprise to have deeper conversations about building their personal brand in social media.

He says one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the demand.

“As our software employees saw how easy it was to share Hewlett Packard Enterprise content, we have had more employees from across the organization who want to join.”

He explains it's just a matter of getting them on the platform, trained, and activated, and they're working on it team-by-team. From there, Zealous says Hewlett Packard Enterprise wants to take the program global.

“We have a huge opportunity to grow in different countries around the world where we do business. There's a huge appetite for localized content in a local language. So taking the program to new regions is one of our big pushes.

Follow Zealous on Twitter and ask about his experience planning and hosting Hewlett Packard Enterprise's first-ever hackathon for the software business.