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Building Employee Advocacy Programs: How to Overcome Objections

By May 18, 2016Guru
Marketing guru Michael Brito discusses overcoming objections to participation marketing in the second installment of his four-part series, “The Employee Content Engine.”

Employee advocacy is still a relatively new concept. Marketers understand it, as they see a channel to reach new audiences. Internal comms can see the opportunity but take a more cautious approach. And, HR, well that depends on the level of the sophistication of the organization. Usually it’s a show stopper but that’s slowly changing.

Regardless of which industry you work in or where you work in the organization, here are five insights you can use as you prepare to overcome objections.

From the CEO

“Yeah, I think this is a good idea but do I have to participate?”

Trust in executives has been increasing over the last few years, and as much as we love our CEOs, they aren’t that critical to your program. As long as they will fund your program and support you organizationally and emotionally, you should be good. It is critical for you to enroll employees that are excited and inspired to participate in industry conversations. So no, he or she does not necessarily have to participate.

From Marketing

But what if employees aren’t on “message?”

There is definitely a balance here. While you want to ensure that employees find their own voice, they should have some general understanding of the principles of the brand and the value proposition. This can come with training and the development of a content strategy. After that, the best practice is to let employees find their way. It’ll work out, promise.

From PR

“So are these employees going to be official spokespeople for the brand?”

Not necessarily. But in some cases, there may be a few employees that should be media trained. This decision can be made on a case by case basis. As long as employees “disclose” that their ideas are “theirs and not necessary their employers,” you should be fine. It’s wise to remember that employee-driven content and thought leadership is highly credible and trusted, more so than marketing or a press release.

From Human Resources

“Wait, you want to let employees post on social media during work hours?”

Yes, and they are probably already doing so on their mobile devices. The key is ensuring you first have a social media policy and that employees are trained. Plus, studies continue to prove that “engaged employees” are happy with their jobs, stay with company longer and are more productive. Active employees are also great for sharing job postings to their network. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

From Unhappy Employees

“Do I have to do this and will I get paid more if I do?”

No and no. Truth is, you don’t want every employee to participate, especially the ones who have a bad attitude. At the same time, you want to ensure that participation is encouraged but not mandatory. The good news is that as long as you position it that way, the detractors won’t even ask the question.

There are always going to be barriers to building your own employee program. In my experience, there are usually more people in the organization that say “no” instead of collaborating and finding alternative solutions. The key thing to remember is to keep pushing and take one step at a time. My philosophy is that it’s better to “beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission.”

Good luck.

Author Michael Brito

Michael Brito is the Senior Vice President of the San Francisco office & Head of US Digital Marketing for LEWIS Global Communications. He’s is also an Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University and working on his latest book, "Participation Marketing: Mobilizing Employees to Participate and Tell the Brand Story” set to release in early 2017.

More posts by Michael Brito

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