Archive for the ‘social networking’ Category

Employee Advocacy starts with Passion

August 23, 2016

You have your EA program completely wrong!

Let’s start clarifying with a definition: “Employee advocacy” is a term used to describe the exposure that employees generate for brands using their own online assets. While social media is often the main medium for employee advocacy, these “online assets” include email, chat, forums, discussion boards and more.” (Source: Linkhumans).


Going through a  large number of post on how to start an Employee Advocacy Program, I found the following recurring elements.  Most include some kind of a mission; creating trust and freedom quickly followed by social media policy (of course);  a set of advocacy tools;  some kind of an incentive plan; company generated and focused content;  and finally possibly some training.

The focus of the program is on Reach and KPIs as measurement criteria.  Though this might make sense from a company’s point of view, it does not from the advocate’s point of view.


What is really needed to get to advocacy going is “Passion”.  Few (or no) programs are addressing this.  Let me dig a little deeper on what I mean by passion.

Passion for the company

Passionate employee are those that pay attention to the company’s strategies and tactics.  They follow every step the company is taking to be successful. Sometimes they might question these steps. They see their role in that success.  They defend their company every time without being asked and not because someone in the company ordered them.  Most importantly, they are not motivated by money.

Without that passion there is no employee advocacy.

Passion for the culture

Companies must have a passionate work culture that translates into devotion, recognition and long-term employment.  Open communications, honesty are key components that must exist within the company.  A lot of the times, you team culture springs to mind.  And as the expression goes: there is no I in Team!  And yes, EA is about creating trust and freedom!

Without that passion there is no employee advocacy.

Passion for products and services

The next level is that your employees need to be passionate about their products and services.  They see how these products make a difference and what their contribution to that success is.  It makes them proud!

Without that passion there is no employee advocacy.

Passion for helping

Yet another key element for advocacy is that you give freely without expecting any immediate return or otherwise stated the giver does not specify what should be given in return but rather accepts that the recipient is free might decide to give something  at some point.  As a giver you are trying to add value to your network and community.

Without that passion there is no employee advocacy.

Passion for social

Employees also have to have a passion for social media.  And I do not mean obsessed with constant updates but more about that internal fire to share and contribute without asking the ‘return’ questions.  So if they have no or limited social media accounts they will not suddenly create them and start sharing information because you ask them (via a amplification platform using gamification techniques).

Without that passion there is no employee advocacy.

Passion for personal branding

Finally, there must be a need/want of the employee to do personal branding and that using content that is either handed to them or they curated/created themselves.  The WIIIFM factor is and must be high and add value to the network of the individual.

i in team

And yes, there is an “I” in team when it comes to employee advocacy. Here is the magic formula:

                Employee Advocacy = Team + I

Without that passion there is no employee advocacy.

Remember that Passion and authenticity are hard to fake and people see through it easily.  Of course, this comes at a cost: the cost of failing and changing direction at some point. That’s okay because it lets you know it is time to move on and follow new passions.

passion 2

So when you set up an Employee Advocacy program release the passion first!

With that passion there is employee advocacy.

Why organizations fail at Employee Advocacy?

July 26, 2016

low-hanging-fruitThe low hanging fruit for ambassadorship is Employee Advocacy and yet many (not to say most) companies are failing miserably at it.


Why and what to get it on the rails of for many one of the burning questions on the table.

4 golden rules for Employee Advocacy and Sharing

When it comes to Employee Advocacy there are 4 golden and simple rules:

  1. You employees follow your company accounts
  2. There is a culture of sharing
  3. The WIIIFM factor (for the employees) of posts is high
  4. Content is generated by the employees

Let’s take a look at the above rules and answer the question of why and what

Employees follow corporate accounts


This seems so obvious but it is not.  Sometimes because companies have not asked, sometimes because of ignorance and even sometime because employee choose not to.  Few companies take the time to promote their own social accounts internally even though externally thousands of dollars/euros are spent to get followers/fans.  Companies assume employees will find and follow the accounts anyway.  But how do you expect your employees  to look for them and even going one step further to share from there.

Why not run an internal campaign to promote social media accounts and content as  first step to true Employee Advocacy?

Sharing culture


It must be said that some people and even nations share more than others.  Us Belgians are renounded for not sharing.  Sharing must be encouraged (via the social media policy) and done by example.  The management team and the social media lead by example for the rest of the organization to follow.  How do you expect employees to share what management and others do not share themselves.

Social media usage (also for private reasons during worktime) must be encouraged but forced upon your employees.

Oh by-the-way, the corporate account might want to share some of the content posted by its employees and this without being told to do so.



People share if the content they share makes them look good of entertaining to their audience, friends, fans and followers.  As a company post creator you should keep that in mind and not the promotion of company products and/or services.  Most company post do not hold the potential for people to share and look good!

User-Generated Content

content-people-01Sharing is a 2-way process and successful posts have a high level of human factor embedded in them.  Showing off your employees (and no, they will not be stolen away from you) and their content will make sharing so much more attractive.  One step further is using content from your employees on your corporate account will dramatically increase even more the level of sharing.  See it as a pat on the back and recognition for having great content.

And then there are tools

Since Employee Advocacy is seen as the golden egg, companies are looking for ways to make it hatch faster.  Here come the tools to help (aka“force”) the sharing actions.  These tools even come with incentive programs (gamification) to make sharing even more attractive. But gamification will only work so long.  In my humble opinion no longer than 3 to 6 months.  And yes, internal promotion will be required.   Let me clear these tools have their role to play and are a good way to kick start social sharing of company posts but they are no longtime cure.  There are a lot of great tools out there to help you with social sharing and employee advocacy.

However, the real cure lies in adhering to the above 4 rules to make Employee Advocacy a success!

Feel free to agree of disagree with me and sharing this in the comment field below.

Put your social media Sombrero on!

January 31, 2016

You will probably recognize the following scenario.  You enroll for a training or webinar to learn new things.  During the session there are a lot’s of tips and tricks you think you should implement but as you are keeping up with the pace, they get lost.  And then we all suffer from the “I will do it tomorrow” syndrome.  However, the next day we either forget or fall victim to our hectic business-as-usual where other fires have to be put out. Finally, we only implement less than 10% of what we learned.

I see this happening to too when people who learn all about LinkedIn or Social Media in trainings.  As a trainer it is frustrating that all your good tips & tricks were no implemented (in the spur on the moment).

sombreroRecently, I came across an interesting app called Sombrero which actually starts where you left of in your social media training.  This app acts as you guide and teacher but in small bits on a daily basis.  I tried the app myself first and then spoke with the people from Sotrender, the company behind this app.


Getting started is simple!

Installing the app is easy and so is setting it up.  Register your social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the small tasks start rolling in.  The nice thing is that the app takes babysteps as the task are simple and take very short time to complete.  The app gives you a real sense of accomplishment but still you are moving forward to professionalizing your social media presence.  True, if you are already active the first days/week might be boring but it provides some good benchmarking on where you are.

sombrero app

As you move along the timeline, tasks become a bit more challenging but reflect how you should be running your social media.  I found a great complement to my training program.

It is not all sunshine, of course!

What caught my attention is that there is bit of confusion around the target profiles: personal vs company profiles.  The app wants to serve both and it is not always clear which way it tilts.

Since I mostly focus on B2B, LinkedIn is a major component.  Unfortunately, this bit is missing today.   I understand it will be coming in next versions.

Another little drawback is the fact that it is an English-only version and my feeling tells me that the audience best served is not always used to work in English.


Since this app is free (and there is no catch) and very educational, I think you try it on your smartphone or tablet.  I am convinced that you will learn a thing or two even if you have some experience.  The app really delivers when it comes pushing your boundaries and boosting your online performance.

Let me know what you think!


Employee Advocacy in 9 questions?

November 27, 2015

I recently organized an event together with “ADM – Where Business meets ICT” on the subject of Employee Advocacy.  It is a hot topic for many companies as the low hanging fruit for brand ambassadors has not been picked yet.

Here is what members of ADM taught us.  The full list of questions are below in the appendix

Q1: What words come to mind when you hear the word “Employee Advocacy”?

Here is what the audience thought….

EA - 11

We all know that Employee advocacy” is a term used to describe the exposure that employees generate for brands & company using both their own online and offline assets.

Q2 – Q4 pertained to current Employee Advocacy

About 2 out 3 companies that took part in the on line survey during the event had a program in shape or form for EA.  Most of the Advocacy seemed to happen on LinkedIn (45%) while Twitter and Facebook came in 2nd with about 23%.   In most companies between 15% and 25% of employees are being advocates.

Q5: What Employee Advocacy programs do you know?

One thing that is clear is that even though there are many platforms out there, people seem to know few of them.

EA - 12

Q6 – Q8 pertained to who drives the EA initiative

Though marketing seems to be the biggest driver (46%), HR and communications are close seconds.  Even though we seem to hear that incentives are the key to successful EA, most of the companies in the survey disagreed.  Less than 30% offer incentives to their employees.

EA - 14

Now with Employee Advocacy comes the danger of having things go wrong so having a clear up to date social media policy is key.  As my other research has shown about 50% of companies are not paying attention and have no or an outdated social media policy.

Q9: Who is responsible for the content that will be shared through Employee Advocacy?

The obvious answer seems to be marketing but stories from and by employees seem to be the trick to successful EA.


If your company want to start with an Employee advocacy plan a few steps need to taken:

  1. Make sure you have a culture of sharing and openness
  2. Update your social media policy
  3. Have your employee create content
  4. Implement an employee advocacy platform
  5. Encourage sharing through a smart incentive plan

What are your thoughts, feedback and experiences? Love to hear from you

EA - 13

Appendix: questions asked to about 70 companies during the event

  1. What words come to mind when you hear the word “Employee Advocacy”?
  2. Does your company have an Employee Advocacy program?
  3. On what platforms is your advocacy happing?
  4. What % of your employees participate in advocacy?
  5. What EA platform are you using or know of?
  6. Which department drives EA?
  7. Are people incentivized for being an advocate?
  8. Do you have an updated social media policy?
  9. Who is responsible for creating content to be shared via EA?

When the whale washes up on the beach…

November 5, 2015

The last few weeks it has been raining negative messages around Twitter.  But what if the Twitter whale really washed up on the beach what would the consequences?

twitter whale

Loss of employment

The first group of people impacted are those companies that make tools to slice and dice Twitter.  There will be a lot of blood flowing on the floor.  From monitoring platforms to posting platform and tools of all other kinds.  I see you thinking: “It is only startups and who cares? But it is not only a large number of startups that would go out of business overnight but also some of the big players would get hurt and have to let go of people.  Not to mention companies using these tools.


OMG! The Klout score could really disappear for real.

Companies and Organizations

Twitter has been the tool that many companies have used to provide customer service and/or get close to the r customers.  All of a sudden they would lose their eyes and ears on their community,  Back to phone canvassing or trying to move the communities to one of the remaining platforms.  Let’s be honest, you don’t want the twitter type conversations on LinkedIn or even Facebook as a company.

Twitter users

people tweetingAnd how about the users of Twitter.  They would have so much time on their hands.  No more checking their influencers (an retweeting or pressing like), no more content curation, no more personal branding tweets to be sent, no more customer service complaints, etc. just to name a few.  What would they do with all this regained time?

Let’s be real, Twitter washing up on the beach would mean that we are left with only 2 real networks.  Google+ has been catching rays on the beach for a while now.  Would Tweeps really move to LinkedIn and/or Facebook with their content and messages?

What a nightmare that would be for both the platforms, companies and users.  I can’t image what messages on LinkedIn will look like or how the amount of spam in LinkedIn groups will spiral as the (professional) influencers from Twitter flock to LinkedIn.  What if more people started to complain about company services  and products on Facebook (or LinkedIn for that matter)…  Could customer service really move to Facebook? I guess Not!


twoogleThe long and short is that Twitter is likely not to disappear, so stop whining and spreading negative news.  I kind of want to  come back to my predictions for 2015 in the sense that if Google with Google+ (They have the users) and Twitter (they have the content) should team up (Twoogle?) they can be a counterweight to the two protagonists.  I wonder…

The Renaissance of the social media policy

October 15, 2015

Let’s start in 2009

2009 is the year that social media breaks through on a large scale.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the likes are adding members quickly.  I would like to call this the age of “consumersation of Social Media”.

social media errorsBut 2009 is also the year that we start seeing how naif people are.  They post anything and everything on social media.  They tarnish not only their own reputation but also that of the companies they work for.  Some even get fired for their behavior.  But also companies make mistakes with this young and new medium.  And then companies do what companies do best: the lock down and lockout social media on the work floor!

They did however not count on the fact that mobile was also becoming a  commodity. People creative as they are fled to these mobile devices to take part in social media during work hours.   Companies had to do something: The social media policy was born!

2011 – 2012

one in fiveWhen I did my survey about social media policies in companies, I found that only 1 in 5 companies had one.  Even worse: within those companies less than 10% of the employees knew about it.  This still holds true today.  Social Media policies were merely a tick in the box.

Companies only made one when disaster struck.  They created them as insurance policies.

2015:  Time for a social media policy renaissance

We are now 2015 and there 3 important reasons why companies should revisit their social media policy or create one.

3 reasons socmedpol

Reason #1: We all know that 2015 is the year of the video more specifically live-streaming.  Apps such as Meerkat, Periscope or even Blab give every employee a live camera in their hand.  What if they start live streaming your production process?  What if they stream paying events?  And this is just the beginning.

Reason #2: For years companies have been looking for ambassadors.  They kept looking outside the company and forgot their biggest assets, the employees.  Today Employee Advocacy is stepping into the limelight.  Employees can amplify company approved content and get a higher organic reach.  Today companies are using a number of tools from rFactr, over GaggleAmp to Sociabble or Smarpshare just to name a few.  But what if your employee add comments to post that are not appropriate?

Reason #3: More and more companies are embracing Social Selling (aka the use of social media by sales to find leads and build relationships).  We all know how disciplined sales people are and things can go wrong very quickly (and yes, this is black & white).  You really need a policy to help this people with their social media.

And finally, people are still naif in this day and age.  They are still being fired for posting stupid stuff.

So time for the renaissance of the social media policy.  If yours is more than 2 years old, it is time for a revision.


From my current research, it looks like about 50% of the companies have as policy of which some are more than 2 years old.  With social election in many companies coming up, it might be a good idea to include some paragraphs about union behavior and use  of social within your enterprise.

In my next article I will focus on the how you make/update your current social media policy.

Sloppy programming or no respect to the users?

June 30, 2015

Open letter to LinkedIn

Time to vent!  I will abuse my own blog to vent some of my frustrations with LinkedIn.  However, some of my readers might be suffering from the shortcomings below

Let me start out by saying that I am a very big supporter and user of LinkedIn but as a professional you bring me a lot of frustration.  As a social media professional, I try and teach people the good use of LinkedIn but time after time you, LinkedIn, brings my and its reputation down.

I am not sure what kind of quality control you have in place when it comes to English and Non-English versions but the interface really looks sloppy and it seems that complaints are not taken seriously thus giving us the impression you do not care what 350 million people suffer from daily.

Let me explain what I mean.

English versions

It starts on the home page where some people have the Long Form publishing button and others not.  While in the past you provided the option to request, this is no longer possible thus 2 different versions without a clear explanation when user will get access to Long Form Publishing.

While I love the new contact sheet, I still regularly people with the old contact screen.  And yes, there might be a button asking change the lay-out, people do not always see or get it.  Thus here too 2 different versions (and they have nothing to do with the one above versions it seems).

When it comes to personal contacts, some people have the button to add relationship details while other not.  No clear explanation why.

There are some conflicting messages like in posting a job.  On the start screen you mention 3 easy step while on the job posting itself only.

job 1

VSjob 2

And then there are the paying versions of LinkedIn.  It seems there are ways to get a paying subscription:

  • Upgrade your profile from your personal account settings page
  • Upgrade via the Business Services button

Did you notice that the job seeker solution has been dropped in the Business Services?  And then there is the myriad of pricing schemes that are floating around.  Most of them no longer featured anywhere.

Non-english versions

Since I regularly teach classes in Dutch and French, I change the language on LinkedIn.  From a functionality point of view there are differences.  Here a few examples:

  • Under the “who viewed your profile” the options of ranking and post views does not appear
  • Endorsements are no longer triggered when you view a 1st degree contact
  • Removing contact button sometimes disappears

And then there is the mix between the local language and English like in sections such as “Keep in touch”.  And yes, this could be a cookie issue but when I change my UI I expect all of it to be updated.

li langs

There are many instances where this seem to happen.  I would categorize this under sloppy programming and poor Quality Assurance.

Call to Action

Though I understand LinkedIn is constantly adding (and removing) features to make it more attractive, this is no excuse to provide so many different UI’s (User Interfaces) and active versions.  I am seeing 5 to 10 different UI’s on a regular basis.  I think the roll up of profiles and version needs to be quicker and smoother.

It might actually make sense to involve non-english trainers and professionals in your Quality Assurance process as well as provide clear timelines when functionality is available to all users in any language. And yes, I would love to be included!

What you always wanted to know about when to post on Facebook and LinkedIn

April 9, 2015

One of the biggest challenges on social media is when to post  to get maximum reach.  There is maybe one simple trick that will tell you when your connections and contacts are online: your birthday!  Or better, when people wish you a happy birthday which means they are online.  Time for me to do an experiment…


A few days ago (April 7th) it was my birthday. I took this opportunity to get an insight into when my contacts, friends and followers posted and mailed their best wishes.  The sample size is a few hundred messages (about a third of my complete network) which is representative for my network on LinkedIn and Facebook.  Twitter is the odd one out.

Here is what I observed:


On LinkedIn messages started as of 2.21AM (A late night worker?).  However the real stream started at 5.54 AM but with a first peak between 8AM and 9AM.  The next burst came between 10 AM and noon.  As of lunch the mails dropped down considerably but evened out over the afternoon and evening.

linkedin posts

2 conclusions from these statistics and the fact that my network is evenly spread between Europe and the USA,

  • I can conclude that far more Belgians and Europeans than Americans use the tab “Keep in Touch”.
  • Also, my European network is stronger than my US network.


On Facebook it started at 1AM (okay, that was someone who was up late😉 ) but the real postings in Belgium started at 6AM.  The first strong push was between 7AM  and 8 AM slowly dropping down towards 9AM. However, my Spanish contacts got active at after 9AM.

facebook post

The highest activity was measured in the afternoon starting at noon and going up from there.  Things slowed down after 5PM.  Here, I must admit, my network is more Belgian based than internationally.


Amazingly enough, twitter only started at 9AM but that is because Twitter does not send people messages when it is your birthday.  Here too the biggest number (how few those were) happened in the 2PM -5PM timeslot. But the number of messages is too small to make any real statement about when to post.


It is clear that if I want to reach my target audience posting between 7AM and 8AM (before work) and/or Noon – 5PM (at work?) are good times on Facebook.  LinkedIn seems to be used by my contacts in the morning  between 8 and noon.  As far as Twitter is concerned I have no conclusive data to make any recommendation.

What do you think? Does this hold true for you too?  How do you really know?

Will Live-streaming throw our privacy completely overboard?

April 2, 2015

The world of social media is changing at a quick pace and some innovations make it even shake in its foundations.  It has been touted that 2015 was going to be the year of the video.  But what is happening now is just mind boggling.  Personally, I love it! Live-streaming has just gone personal!  Meerkat and Periscope are among the shakers in this field.


What is meerkat or Periscope?

Live-streaming is nothing new but personal live-streaming surely is.  Meerkat and Periscope are personal live-streaming video apps using a twitter account to rally viewers and share live video content.  We are even more at the point of being a reporter with camera in hand (our smartphone) than with pictures.  And yes, today the service is only available for Iphone users.  Below is an infographic comparing the 2 main players.

infographic meerkat

Meerkat was the first to jump the gun and soon had many followers (over 100K in less than a month).  But then came along Periscope (by Twitter) and the steep rise stopped in favor of Periscope.  Who will be the winner?  I guess the app that gets soonest on Android/Microsoft, I think!

The potential of live video streaming is huge.  Creative marketers will be able to feast on new things they can do starting with streaming product launches, product demonstration, events, interviews, promotions and much more.

However, the biggest issue still has to be tackled.  Privacy is hitting yet another tilting point.

What privacy?

Privacy and the internet are an oxymoron and contradiction anyway.  But these apps hold the potential for many more breaches.  It could be a nightmare in the waiting.  Looking at the terms of use of both platforms (MeerkatPeriscope) they are dodging all responsibility and beyond.

Here is an interesting paragraph from Meerkat

All Content, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted, is the sole responsibility of the person who originated such Content. We may, but are not required to monitor or control the Content posted via the Services and we cannot take responsibility for such Content. Any use or reliance on any Content or materials posted via the Services or obtained by you through the Services is at your own risk.”

But beware and please read carefully the section after the word “reproduce”:

You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. In order to make the Services available to you and other users, Meerkat needs a license from you. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).”

The service claims not to store the video but are you really sure?  I would suggest you read these Terms of Service agreements carefully.

But again, you will ask me “Where is the privacy issue?”

stopWell, what if people start streaming live video from a paying event? Of from a soccer game where a TV station has paid the screening rights?  What if you are filmed and have not given your consent?  What if people start streaming video from places where disasters have happened?  These are all situations that will raise the bar in the privacy game.  And yes, the first events where Meerkat was banned are a fact.  But how can you stop this?  You can’t ask people to check in their smartphone when they come to your event.  Interesting times ahead!

Finally a last thought. If this service would have been offered by Facebook, the world would have been up in arms around the privacy issues but for now people focus on meerkat-in-carthe gadget level of these apps as if there is no issue.  We hear a lot of speak about using your common sense or like Meerkat puts in its rules “Be Kind”.  We all know where that road leads to.

Let me be clear that I am very excited to see these evolutions and technology appear. I will be a supporter from day 1 but will keep a close eye on the dark side of this technology.  I wonder what you think about this technology and the privacy issues that it entails.