Posts Tagged ‘social media policy’

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).

ea

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.

passion

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.

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.

Conclusion

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?

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.

Conclusion

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.

Social Media Policies in Belgium (Part 1) – Only 1 in 5 company has one!

December 8, 2012

Social Media Policies have found their entrance into large corporation but the small and especially the medium sized companies have not created and implemented  such social media policies.

Earlier this year PayScale released some results about the adoption of Social Media Policies in the USA (http://mashable.com/2012/06/10/employer-social-media/).  The conclusion was that over 50% of the companies had a formal social media policy.  But how do Belgian businesses match up to these numbers?

A recent survey (October 2012) done via Vanguard Leadership has revealed that only 1 company in 5 has a social media policy in Belgium.  And since Belgium is a country of Small and Medium sized business, we can conclude that the 20% of companies that have a social media policy are mainly  the larger companies.

SoMe IN BE

The same survey uncovered that  65% of the employees accessed Facebook, 52% LinkedIn and 53% Twitter daily during work hours.  You would think that social media policies would be more common since employers are worried about their employees wasting time or damaging the reputation of their company on social media.

SoME in BE 2

A first conclusion is that companies are not always aware that their employees are very active on social media.  Though these companies are aware that such a policy is a must they do not create or implement a policy or guidelines until they have an “accident” which leads to reputation loss.  Over the course of the year we have witnessed several of these examples (e.g. Ikea in Belgium – http://www.nieuwsblad.be/article/detail.aspx?articleid=GVB3M9AGE) where a social media policy is created after the reputation damage was detected.

More information to come about the results of this survey in next blog posts.

Notes about the survey:  Over 200 companies were surveyed.  About 50% have less than 50 employees, 30% have less than 250 employees and  and 20% were larger than 500 employees.

Who controls the social media policy creation?

May 29, 2012

We all know that control and social media are contradictory, but that is what people and companies think you achieve through a social media policy.

Where in the past social media was the exclusive playing field of marketing, today HR, sales and other departments are finding great benefits in social media.  These departments are discovering new platforms or uses for existing platforms to benefit their departments.  So with this expanding usage of social media, comes the awareness that a social media policy is needed.

Today I am seeing a new battle arise, namely who will create the social media policy.  A number of departments are trying to pull that creation of such a much needed policy to them.  However, there are 3 clear main drivers: HR, marketing and IT. They do this for different reasons.

But first, the creation of a social media policy is project that is done in a number of different ways today.   Some resort to an automated tool to create a policy.  It goes without saying that this can’t be the full answer.  Others will surf the internet for a policy and do a copy/paste, this is a better approach but the reality is that your social media policy is not the same as the one from any other company and thus requires a personal approach.

In order to reflect all requirements and wishes within the company, a number of departments must be included in the creation of such a policy.  Each department will bring their unique experience, skills and motivation for the policy to the table.  No department alone should be dominating this effort.  Here is some experience from real life why.

Marketing wants to control all messaging by being in charge while having free reign.  They will try to create either a minimalistic policy (“use your common sense” as only rule) or control the usage by a detailed “how to use social media handbook”.

HR wants to limit the risk, liability and time usage.  Though they do bring the skill of creating successful policies to the table, their angle will be focused on “do not …” rather than “do…” or “become…”.

IT will be concerned about bandwidth and IT security and their driver will be shut down as much as possible in terms of access to social media.

Legal will for liability reasons be trying to cross all the t’s and dot all the I’s in terms. Most of the time this achieved through complex wording that no one understands (cfr. Terms of services of most social media platforms).

Employee will either want as much as possible access to social media with nearly no rules or guidelines while others will want nothing to do with it.  The contributors will be giving the social media policy makers the real insight to the use of social media in the company and they should be considered valued contributors.

Unions are a much dreaded group of contributors.  Companies are afraid to involve them in the process.  However, since policies must also be reviewed, approved or endorsed by these unions, who by the way also use social media, they are critical to implementing social media policies successfully.

In my personal experience, creating a 2 page or 20 page social media policy (guideline or handbook), you need to have all these people and departments involved in the project to create a personalized and integrated social media policy for your company.  To make the roll-out process a success you need to accompany this project with social media awareness sessions and/or training.

Do you have different views? I love to hear from you!

The anatomy of a good social media policy

March 7, 2012

Whether your company is active on social media, your employees probably are.  So you should have a policy.  Over the course of the last few years I have been involved in writing and reviewing a lot of social media policies around the world.  It is becoming clear that social media policies have some kind of anatomy.

Of course, there is not “one fits all” solution since every company has its own needs and wants.  I would like to share with you what I am seeing as best practice components in social media policies.

Here are the different section one could have in a policy

1. Why do you have a social media policy?

In general employees do not like policies.  But protecting the reputation of your company is every employee’s duty and that is what a policy should attempt to achieve.  You can carve your policy in such a way that your employees are your ambassadors

2. What is social media?

Most of your employees have a limited view of what social media really is.  It is more than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  A good definition of what you as company understand under social media will help you set the scene.

3. Which social media and networks are we talking about?

It is good idea to name the major different social media platforms, what they are best used for and what the benefits and dangers are.

4. To whom does the policy apply?

Different types of people are working in companies.  Of course you have employees of which some are spokespeople.  Many companies also employ contractors or free-lancers and you need to decide whether your policy will also apply to these people.  You might need a subtract for them.

5. How to get access of social media?

In some companies you still need to ask permission to access the internet and/or social media. We tend to think that this practice is becoming extinct but still many companies block access to social media for the majority of their employees under the umbrella of productivity loss.  That is what the social media policy is trying to address.

6. Definition of Terms

In this section you will define the difference between policy and guideline, personal vs professional use, employee vs spokesperson, etc.

7. Social Media Policy

It is clear that some items must be policy (use of logo’s, spokepeople, disclaimers, creation and ownership of accounts, etc.)

    1. For spokespeople
    2. For employees
    3. For contractors

8. Social Media guidelines

The social media guideline will help your employees protect their own reputation and thus also the reputation of the company.  In this section you will find items such as authenticity, correct errors, honesty, suggestion of identity and email addresses, etc.

9. Where can you your company on social media? And how are you using it?

Do not assume that your employees know what social media you are using as a company.  A lot of companies do not mention their accounts on website and leave it up to their employees to discover where they are.  This practice will make sure that all your employees know what the official accounts are.

It is also a best practice to tell your employees what you are using these social media accounts for.  Let’s call it leading by example.

10. How do you handle mentions (positive and negative)?

We all know that companies and people are talked about.  Many companies have some kind of social media monitoring but many more do not.  So if your employees who can be your eyes and ears in social media (provided they are your ambassadors) see any message, they need to know what the procedure is to handle these mentions or posts.

11. Where do you get help for your Social Media

As companies are gearing up for social media, it is also a good idea to setup a help desk or a social media help account (which could be any employee within the company).  Indicate in your policy who these people are and where you can get the necessary training.

12. Tips and tricks

Nothing works better to create ambassadors than provide tips and trick so you should include examples with tips and tricks.

I understand that including all these sections can lead to a long document that people might not read which brings me to a final point about a social media policy.  The key to success is the roll out phase. That’s the moment where you can create a simple hand-out or give-away that supports the introduction and announcement of the policy.  You can really get creative with this and get a lot of support for your policy.

I would love to hear your comments and feedback.

Why the political parties have no Social Media Policy?

December 25, 2011

2012 is an election year. This is not only the case in the US, but also in many other countries including my own, Belgium. There will be local elections and union elections this year. But I am looking forward, with a lot of anticipation, to how US politics will be using Social Media to rally to victory. Four years ago, Team Obama surprised everybody, but this year, many politicians and candidates will be fighting back and use the same weapons.

What I can not stop wondering about is whether the Democratic or Republican party has a Social Media Policy. I do not think so and in all honesty I am not sure they can make one that sticks. In reviewing the database of social media policies (http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php), there are a number of elements that always show up in such a policy. Maybe this is a good time to benchmark some paragraphs of these policies versus the political world. It will become apparent why it would be close to impossible to create a Social Media Policy (that would stick to) for any political party: Here are some clauses and further meaning:

  • Respect your Audience: One should show proper consideration for other’s privacy and topics considered inflammatory.
  • It is a Conversation: it is supposed to be a two-way conversation and not just shouting out to the audience.
  • Respect your competition, do not pick fights or launch personal attacks: Seems very obvious and does not really require any further explanation.
  • Be honest and transparent: do not be sneaky or devious. Do not have others go out there and say good things about you and bad things about others. Stay away from ghostwriters.
  • Be yourself and respectful: Voters will see through your marketing tricks and talk. Be passionate and let that show through your personality.
  • Get your facts right: Separate your opinions from your facts. How often is this not forgotten?
  • Admit mistakes, apologize and correct your mistakes: do not be afraid to say that you were wrong. Admit to those mistakes and correct them.
  • Think twice about posting: Before you post think about how it will be perceived since that is what people will see as the reality. The internet does not forget easy. Make sure you are allowed to post this content.
  • Do not lie: Obviously since you are personally responsible for “speaking” on a public platform.
  • Add Value: People’s time is valuable so do not waste it with.
  • Aim for Quality and not Quantity: Offer your contribution with content and in context.
  • Do not spam your audience: Respect people’s time.

As most companies and organizations are urged to create good social media guidelines and policies, I think politicians should set the example. However, I know that politicians stand on the barricade when they see these types of policies, but just like marketers they feel that their hands are tied. So I wonder if any of the political parties are even giving this any thought and would love to hear from them. Any thoughts?

The Social Media Policy undercover

December 5, 2011

Social Media Policy is more than a document; it is a process and an attitude.

More and more but still too few companies are thinking about creating a social media policy. This however only the beginning. From experience I can say that within companies that have a social media policy less than 10% of all employees know about its existence. Even worse, earlier this year I even encountered HR managers (from ICT companies) that were unaware of their own policy even though it is publicly available on the internet. So there is a need for more than just a document.

The implementation of social media must be seen as an implementation of an ICT application. Remember, social media platforms are true Cloud Computing applications and require thus a good implementation plan. The creation of the policy document is only a little step in this process. Additionally, you can use the social media policy to create the necessary awareness of social media for all your employees. They can learn about the who, the what, the benefits and the dangers of social media. It is important to show them that the individual’s behavior cannot only influence the perception about them but also the company in both positive and negative sense. The guidelines mentioned in the policy will enlist your employees to be your best ambassadors. A benefit that is too often forgotten.

Every policy contains both traditional guidelines and policies about the use of social media during and after working hours. It is also good to include the different platforms and profiles where the company can be found. This often forgotten and leads to employees making all kinds of groups and profiles without any coordination or approvals. Another benefit of your social media policy is that you clearly state what training (platforms where the company is active sounds like a good rule) is made available to all employees to make the most of the platforms. Let’s be honest, who reads a book on how to set your facebook privacy settings?

And then there is the distribution of the policy within your organization. Do not just send an email or put it on the intranet. This is the quickest way to go into hiding and thus not to be understood or known by the employees. A personal presentation or creative approach will reap benefits and create excitement. Creating a video (Ministry of Justice of the state Victoria), a commented PowerPoint (Salesforce.com) or a cartoon strip (Adidas). Reaching the employees individually is key especially since you are handing them useful guidelines to protect their (and the company’s) reputation.


Now your policy is effective! Successful companies are those where the social media policy promotes ambassadorship and people are made aware through training and induction programs. If you have any questions or comments, please react via the comments field in this blog!

Trade Unions and Social Media Policies: an explosive mixture

February 20, 2011

I am looking with a lot of interest at the actions of trade unions when it comes to social media policies in companies.  Over the last months several court cases, which I do not care to mention (just Google “social media policy union”), have made the news and have spread via different media across the world.  It is true that currently most of the controversy is coming out of the US but I am sure in time we will have similar discussions in Europe.

There are 2 points that intrigue me:

  • Trade Unions about Social Media policies
  • Social Media policy in Trade Unions

I know that I am touching on very sensitive points.  So I think we need to face this topic before more discussions end up as social media cases.

Trade Unions about Social Media Policies

As more and more companies are seriously beginning to look at creating and implementing a Social Media Policy to control their employees, it raises more attention with the trade unions.  We all know that controlling social media is impossible!  So what am I seeing?

  • Some companies have realized that rather than creating a strict policy it is better (for company ambassadorship) to provide guidelines to the employees.
  • More and more companies are involving different functions and departments during the creation phase of a policy. We see HR, marketing and IT collaborate on such policies.

My recommendation, however, is that you make the trade unions part of your project team to create the company social media policy.  Daring?  Impossible?  Not!  Speaking from experience, it can be done!

Social Media Policies in Trade Unions

Source: Alexwhite.org

Trade Union members are active on social media, let’s not deny this.  While most are there from a personal point of view, some are their as a trade union member.  This brings me to wonder if trade unions have their own social media policy or even social media guidelines since they are a brand too. What guidelines or policies are in place for trade union members to react via social media?  Just imaging how much damage the trade union brand and reputation could suffer from not having these guidelines. So far, I have not found one trade union that has published a policy but it would be interesting to see what their guidelines/policy looks like.

My recommendation is that Trade Unions should create, implement, communicate and publish their social media policy so their members do not hang out the trade union’s dirty laundry.

Conclusion

My business mantra is that you can complain about a problem but you need to come up with at least one solution.  So if trade unions are going to fight social media policies, they need to have one themselves and companies must include the trade unions in their social media project creation and delivery teams.

I would love to hear your comments and feedback.

Social Media Policy unites Social Media initiatives

January 30, 2011

As social media is being used by different departments in larger companies, we tend to see that all the efforts are undertaken in somewhat isolation of each other. Call it social media chaos. Marketing uses it for brand awareness; HR for recruitment; Sales for lead generation; etc. All might be using different media, different approaches, and different rules. Sounds familiar?

The ultimate solution, of course, is that companies hire a social media manager. Hopefully, this person can sit at a corporate level as to not be driven by one type of function but we all know better, right! However, we all know that few companies are willing to invest in an FTE for social media because of cost, lack of strategy and no real view on time and effort needed. So why not use the social media policy to unify the different social media initiatives within the company.

How? One of the key building blocks in the acceptance of a social media policy is that is created by multiple departments otherwise you end up with a unilateral policy. Marketing will make it as minimalistic as possible as to not have any limitations, HR will make it restrictive in line with the other policies, IT will close down as much as possible, legal will have it so unreadable, etc.

Putting together a team to create your social media policy is more than a good idea. The first step in the creation of a social media policy is to raise the awareness of the topic to the same level for all the participants. So in this step of the every department makes an inventory of what it is using, why and how. By presenting this to the team, it will not only create a better understanding of what social media means to everyone, but also where the company is active (you will be surprised to see the results). It will also reveal possible synergies. Why evaluate and set up 2 different monitoring systems (one for marketing and one for customer service, and yes, it happens!).

By understanding everyone’s efforts (call it their social media goals), the policy can be created with the necessary flexibility and more importantly, it be will be endorsed by everyone in the organization which is another stumbling block when implementing such a policy.

Or how the social media policy unites company social media efforts!