If you want employees to actively become advocates of your company, asking them to do so is not enough. The best way to do it is to inform and engage them with the right content - branded and approved material that people can share through their social media accounts. That is the perspective Dynamic Signal shares. For the past three years, this leading social platform has dedicated itself to providing the best technology for employee advocacy. Today, they are working with large global enterprises such as IBM, Cisco, and SAP helping their staff members promote their organisation in a more authentic way.
But they recognise they have to go beyond the technology. Dynamic Signal understands the need to focus on organisational culture, people, processes and cross-functional activities.
"The organisations that have a clear digital vision and are socially forward-thinking do not see employee advocacy as an option. Rather they see it as an imperative and something that is mission critical," says Chief Marketing Officer Pavey Purewal (pictured right).
I spoke with Purewal to explore how Dynamic Signal works and what an organisation can do to improve their employee advocacy efforts.
Gloria Lombardi: What are the key elements of the Dynamic Signal platform?
Pavey Purewal: Our platform is designed for the employee. First of all, we are a mobile application – we have this philosophy that if you cannot make it easy for staff members to share and receive content, then they will not do it. Through the Dynamic Signal mobile app, people receive notifications whenever there is anything important that is coming from the company. In two clicks people can read and digest all the content and, if they want to, share it straightway.
Most importantly, they can add their personal comments - the authenticity that comes with sharing is really important. But the actual content being shared has already been approved at the back end by a social media manager or typically someone from Marketing.
Dynamic Signal is also very strong on analytics. You can measure almost everything on the platform – all the content you sent, how it performs, all the social media channels used by your employees, and all the gamification activities that an organisation may like to create.
Also, we provide integrations with many other tools - companies can not only share out but also track all the way down to their websites and see the overall business impact. In fact, it is not just about having your employees sharing a lot of content. Ultimately, you want to understand what all of that activity means to your business.
GL: Based on your experience with large corporations, who is typically responsible for employee advocacy inside the organisation?
PP: It depends on what the company is trying to achieve. If they are looking to grow brand awareness, it might be a CMO; if they want to get their best content into the hands of all employees, it might be a Director of Comms or Internal Comms, etc. Employee advocacy is something that anybody who is in Marketing should do. They should look at it as part of their portfolio.
That is because the internal and external silos do not exist anymore. In fact, they are blurring. So, the best approach to employee advocacy is cross-functional.
Moreover, it is becoming a C-level issue. It is not just Marketing, it is not just Communications, it is not just HR; it is the entire leadership that start asking themselves, ‘What’s the role of our employees? What’s the culture in our digital transformation? Who is responsible for that?’
Worth mentioning is that usually with large deployments there is a global hub and someone centrally responsible for the initiatives. But then there are local managers at a country level who look at what is coming from the global hub and supplement that content with more local, relevant, real language pieces.
GL: You mentioned the C-suite. Could you give me a concrete example of leadership being actively involved in employee advocacy?
PP: Agood example comes from the CEO of Lenovo, Yang Yuanqing. The way we started working with them was through a memo he sent to all the leadership team. He said that the next chapter of the company was going to be more social and if they wanted to be more social as a business the leaders themselves would become more social. When he implemented Dynamic Signal in 60+ offices around the world, he said he wanted everybody – from the top to the bottom no matter which country – to be able to share socially.
GL: What are the main challenges to employee advocacy?
PP: The main challenge is not the technology but the people and processes - from the way you are going to navigate through the organisation, to having leaders come together, figuring out the right social media policy and create the right training. All of those things can often become an issue.
Often, a big barrier is trusting employees, which is still difficult for many large organisations – sometimes they immediately worry about getting legal and compliance engaged, rather than focus on the benefit of the initiative.
But, the organisations that have a clear vision and are socially forward thinking do not see employee advocacy as an option. Rather they see it as an opportunity to build their brands, conduct social selling, more effectively communicate with current employees and find new ones.
GL: Do you see any trend in the type of content that employees are more likely to share?
PP: Mobile has given rise to visuals. Every single post that is put onto our platform has to have an image that accompanies the text. If you have a picture when you share on social media, people are more likely to look at it and engage.
In terms of the kind of content itself, user-generated material is becoming very important. For example, the Asian airline Cathay Pacific have created a hashtag called #lifewelltraveled where their staff share their experiences and joy of travelling. They also encourage people to submit pieces on the platform; the marketing team will read it, approve it and download it on Dynamic Signal.
IBM have the hashtag #newwaytowork to promote everything around social business. When their employees participated in the campaign last year they trended on Twitter and won an award at the 13th Annual American Business Awards for this effort.
The whole idea of user-generated content is part of authenticity and integrity as well.
Another good example is Humana. We are working with one of their most visionary leaders Jeff Ross, who is also very involved with the company enterprise social network. Humana is a healthcare insurance company. They work in a highly regulated industry and employees cannot actually talk about their product on social media; they cannot do social selling. So, they decided to use Dynamic Signal by going back to their brand values – wellness and healthy living lifestyle In fact, only 20% of the content on the platform is Humana branded content; people like to share more industry-based content. Currently, 500 Humana employees use the Dynamic Signal platform. The program is 5 months old and they are adding 100 employees per month.
GL: What final advice could we give to companies that want to maximise employee advocacy?
PP: Our recent research conducted with Mindshare NA found that two main things are preventing employees to advocate more. First, internal communication is failing - it is still done mainly through email or through the intranet. But, employees want mobile and social media.
So, if you want your people to be advocates, first focus on making the information going to your employees, rather than asking your employees to go to the information. Secondly, have them actually read the content, which means make it very easy for them to consume it. And make it relevant.