this is the 6th post in a series about employee brand advocates. it’s a look at what specifically about employee advocates makes them so powerful.
how much does an employee engagement survey cost?
what does your organization spend on employee engagement surveys every year, 80k? 120k? more?
imagine being able to approximate the results of an employee engagement survey, using an analysis of employees’ LinkedIn profiles. imagine being able to know immediately what company messages are really resonating with employees, what materials are effective at enabling sales, which managers are driving company loyalty, and which managers are building fiefdoms. imagine being able to adjust internal communication practices in real-time based on hard data rather than a gut feeling.
how much does messaging training cost for sales people?
identity work, branding, and copy writing are expensive… and after you make your marketing spend, you still need to spend again to train (and retrain) sales people on how to use all that messaging in their daily lives. I’m writing this from a sales conference, in fact: sales people from across the US have converged on a single city for three days to learn about their company’s brand, latest product information, and figure out how to integrate it into their daily lives.
but what if you could close the gap between marketing and sales? what if you could make company messaging personal? and not by slapping a client’s name on the front of a stock brochure. I mean by helping sales people choose the marketing message that’s most relevant to their clients and co-opting it?
how much does hiring quality talent cost?
the cost of a mis-hire is regularly pegged as being well into six figures, even for a rank and file employee. this factors in everything from the hard costs of terminating the employee and hiring his replacement to the opportunity cost of recruiters, managers, and coworkers who invested their irreplaceable time into a lost cause.
but what if you could screen people more effectively simply by making your organization more transparent? what if you could trade trusted information with candidates cheaply and quickly, and use interviews to validate information rather than discover it? (transparency and honesty in hiring? I sure hope people don’t think that’s crazy talk…)
these are some of the long-term benefits of Workforce Marketing. though the work itself (messaging & profile optimization!) is simple, it’s far from tactical.
a new employee/employer relationship
in the last few years, leading companies have already begun rethinking of the employer/employee relationship, factoring in the challenges and opportunities social media-based communication brings with it. this rethinking has led to changes in how these companies communicate, internally and externally.
ibm is a great example: they went from the epitome of the faceless conglomerate—literally, Big Blue—to social business practices that showcase individual employees. internally, ibm’s social network allow employees to make up their own titles, leveraging social norms to keep people’s choices reasonable.
as more and more companies follow their lead, Workforce Marketing will become more important because individual employees’ voices will become more important.
this post is about the end game of employee advocacy, so you can figure out if now’s the right time to look at a Workforce Marketing program.
where the benefits come from: the power of win-win through opt-in (or, should a company control how employees represent themselves on social media?)
when a company lets employees choose what to put on their LinkedIn profiles, the choices those employees make provide important feedback to the company about how engaged they are, including their potential to be company advocates.
here’s why it works: when people set up their LinkedIn profile, they realize that this one, single professional c.v. is insufficient for their needs. in real life, people put on different faces to their current employer, recruiters, colleagues, friends, clients, and even families. but with only one LinkedIn profile, they can’t replicate all those variations of themselves.
so they start making choices.
(at Ajax, we’ve gotten good at deducing what choices employees have made, either consciously or unconsciously, based on their profiles. this often fascinates people—and maybe scares them a little, too—which is why my previous post is about peeling back the curtain on our methodologies.)
once we start to look at the choices people make, we can also look for other trends at the team and company level as well, such as: a cluster of potential advocates who all work in the same department, which might be evidence of a strong manager. or the converse—a team that shows a noticeably higher degree of “résumé-like” profiles than their peers, which may be evidence of a bad manager.
when a company tries to use broadcast communication methods to control what employees say on social media, this type of feedback is lost. when a company focuses on sending out status updates and doesn’t give employees a chance to self-identify with the brand, this feedback is lost. when the company governs by dictate and policy, rather than with guidelines, this feedback is lost. in these cases, the only thing the company learns is whether employees are compliant. the only thing employees learn is that the company expects compliance.
an emphasis on compliance creates a delicate, ongoing cat-and-mouse game of rule breaking and rule enforcing… and on social media, this game does not end well. social media has done has shortened the time it takes for bad decisions to come to light, both for employees who mess up and for managers who push employees too far.
if you’re in an industry where control is necessary or preferable, then don’t worry about Workforce Marketing—but those industries are few and far between. and increasingly, sites like Glassdoor are making it harder and harder for bad managers to outrun their reputations.
in short, you may want to consider a Workforce Marketing solution for your company if…
- you have employees interacting with clients and prospects on a professional basis;
- you need your employees to exercise judgment day-to-day in their interactions with the outside world; or
- your best employees come from current employee referrals.
and that’s going to be most of you.
links to the whole series
links to the whole series
age of the employee advocate (almost) | enabling employee advocacy | finding your employee advocates | creating opt-in advocates | what employee advocates look like on LinkedIn | would your company benefit from employee advocates | maximizing the social spend: profile optimization vs. status updates