Beyond Employee Advocacy: Fostering Thought Leadership

September 14, 2017

There are several stages of maturity in employee advocacy. It starts with infancy, when employees are informally posting on social media on the brand’s behalf. The next stage—call it adolescence—involves taking a strategic approach. That means creating an official employee advocacy program with support from upper management.

After that, the focus shifts to sustainability. Once sustainability is achieved, your program is ready to move out and get a job.

However, in employee advocacy (as in life), maturity isn’t a destination. It’s an ongoing journey. Your development as a person didn’t stop when you moved out of your parent’s house. So you shouldn’t stop maturing your program once it becomes self-sustaining.

One extremely effective way to make your program more sophisticated is to turn employees from content sharers to content creators. It’s a logical next step: With your employee advocacy program, you have a dedicated network of employees ready to share content. Some of your program’s goals are to raise brand awareness, promote corporate culture, and contribute to participants’ professional development. When your employees are generating their own thought leadership content, you can hit all three of those goals at once.

Here’s how to nurture the potential content creators in your organization.

1. Keep them Fueled with Great Content

As Stephen King famously said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Compelling writing comes from reading—it both expands your knowledge of the subject matter and helps improve writing skills.

Keeping your employees stocked with fresh content to share is a big part of a successful employee advocacy program. But take special care that what you’re curating is interesting, thought-provoking and well-written. Then, make sure to encourage employees to read what they’re sharing, instead of just passing it along. Give them permission to spend work time consuming and digesting the source material they need to be great communicators.

2. Promote Role Models Internal and External

Show your employees that you don’t have to be in the marketing department to write content. If your C-suite posts on the company blog or on LinkedIn, make sure to call attention to that fact. Look for other people in your industry who post regularly and share that with employees as well. Highlight the results these posts get—shares, likes, comments and connections.

Of course, if you have employees who are already rocking a professional blog or regularly publishing on LinkedIn, make sure the whole organization knows. These role models will help introduce the idea that writing is for everyone, that it can be done, and that it’s worth doing.

3. Provide Opportunities

If your company has a corporate blog or an internal newsletter, adding a diverse set of voices from throughout the company can only improve it.

Ask team managers to point out likely candidates in different departments, and encourage them to create a guest post. You may need to coach the process along and provide some editorial oversight, but it’s worth the effort. Your blog will get a new perspective, and you’ll have an employee who feels empowered to create more content.

In addition to your company’s content outlets, encourage employees to publish on LinkedIn. It’s easy; it’s free; and every post becomes a new stand-out feature on their LinkedIn Profile. These reasons to publish on LinkedIn can help you make the case. For those who are reluctant to try, these guidelines can get them started.

4. Praise and Promote

When employees publish stellar content, don’t hold back on the praise and recognition. Share it on your LinkedIn Company Page. Send the link company-wide and encourage everyone to read, share, and comment.

Most importantly, add their content to the queue on your employee advocacy platform. Let everyone in your program know that they can create content, too. Show them how much reach their own thought leadership content can get, and what that can do for the company and their personal brand.

From Sharing to Creating

The idea of writing content may be daunting—even frightening—for people in non-creative roles. People tend to think of writing as something only a select few can do. It’s important to show that with a little effort, everyone can participate. Not everyone’s first draft will be ready for primetime, but with a little effort and support, anyone can help contribute to your organization’s thought leadership.

These contributions will take your employee advocacy to the next level of maturity—call it “married with two kids and a big savings account.” In addition to “People who work at X company share great content,” your audience will know, “People who work at X company have great ideas.”

 

LinkedIn Elevate is the smarter employee advocacy solution built to optimize your program every step of the way. Learn more about LinkedIn Elevate.

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