There's a revolution afoot in social media, and there are a few solid generals like Heather Dopson, manager of social strategy at Infusionsoft, in Phoenix, Arizona, who are carrying the flag.
Granted, Infusionsoft, which sells CRM and marketing software to small companies, had solid roots in social media before it began. The company also recently acquired GroSocial, of Lehi, Utah, as a means of helping its clients build their Facebook and Twitter pages and followings with greater effectiveness and speed.
But when it comes to developing employee advocates within a company, Dopson is likely second to none.
When Dopson joined Infusionsoft a little more than a year ago she noticed something interesting about the company's blog posts. Nobody was reading them. Not even the employees themselves. But this was about to change.
Recognizing that an employee advocacy program requires education and strategy, she created a small pilot group of participants. Then she got them immersed. She had them read the company posts. They helped to make them interesting, and they joined with her in helping ensure the employees were consuming the content.
Then she added gamification. Even the ability to see the leaderboard and to know who was sharing the relevant material most effectively served to advance her ultimate plans.
Then she helped the participants understand that to be thought leaders and advocates they also needed to share OPC (Other People's Content) and that they needed to do it with thoughtfulness and care.
To ensure success, she brought in an outsourced social media platform. Employees used the platform to create their own individual streams. They adhere to consistency guidelines for the brand voice and message of the company information they share, but they take the opportunity to express and share their personalities and personal interests as well. They are genuine. They are real people with real interests -- not just bots that are spewing the company's news.
Those who participate well gain personal followings and authority that:
- makes them more promotable.
- makes them more hireable.
- creates personal brands around their skills and abilities that leads to community following that will continue to follow them wherever they go.
Participation is a privilege as well. If employees don't use the platform they are provided, it is taken away.
Is the program effective? Here's a clue. After less than a year of participation, Infusionsoft's onboarding process now looks like this: Upon its second day of employment, employees are introduced to the employee advocacy program and Heather informs them they are not only invited, they are expected to participate in the training and education that will allow them to give employee advocacy a good solid try.
At the end of Q2, there were approximately 60 employees participating in the program. Dopson's goal is to create 150 advocates by the end of this year.
In a future column, I will report on her progress. And if you haven't met Heather Dopson yet, I can fairly well guarantee, you will be hearing her name.
How about your company? What are your plans to put your own employee advocacy program into action this year?
Eric Roach is co-founder and CEO at EveryoneSocial.
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