5 Step Social Media Training Program For Employees

You’ve been thinking about employee advocacy for some time.  Your company is ready.  Your employees are ready.  But how do you pull a social media training program together for your employees?  Which topics should be included?  Where do you start?

The magic mix for any B2B employee advocacy program includes a combination of training, tools and content.  Once you understand this, you can set about building the foundation for a program that will have legs for the future.

Training is an essential part of employee advocacy.  If you’re prepared to enable your employees to shine on social media, they need to understand basic social media etiquette in the context of business.  It reduces the risk of something going wrong and increases the likelihood of the program being successful.

5 step social media training program

Over the years, I’ve literally trained thousands of employees on this very topic and in my experience I’ve found that employees that have experienced some level of social media training…

  • Are 3x more likely to start sharing brand content via an employee advocacy tool than those not trained
  • Share, on average, double the amount of content than those not trained
  • Yield 3x as many impressions on the content they shared compared those not trained
  • Generate 50% more clicks than those not trained

Why the difference?   Because trained employees have spent time building a quality network, they understand the importance of relevant content…not just any content.  They gain credibility through active engagement and participation.

Planning Your Program 

So, how do you go about structuring a program?  According to a report from Altimeter, a Prophet Group

Nolan Carleton at AT&T told us, “People are so fearful of getting out there in social media, but once they do it, and they get comfortable, it’s amazing the pivot they make. Make sure whatever materials you have about your program are fun and engaging. Don’t make your program any scarier than it needs to be.”

Don’t Confuse Employees With Social Media Jargon

If you assume an employee is entering the program with zero professional social branding experience, then start with the basics.  Design a program that takes them on a staged learning journey so you don’t overwhelm employees with too much technical jargon early on.

Set Realistic Expectations

It’s also important to set your expectations at the right level.  Not all your employees will want to develop their professional brand and that’s fine!  The same Altimeter study interviewed many organisations already running advocacy programs and found that you should expect somewhere between 10 -40% of your employees to participate.

Every Employee Is Individual

Finally, recognise that employees will only participate to a level they feel most comfortable with.   Don’t expect them all to be industry thought leaders and blogging several times a week.  Recognise that different employees will learn at different paces via different methods.

The 5 Step Social Media Training Program

At Tribal Impact, we’ve built a simple 4 step program called The Social Impact Program designed to take employees from “social zero” to “social hero” and everything in between.

Here’s how we structure it:

5 step social media training program model.jpg




And here’s the detail:

Social Participator:

social practitioner iconIt’s my view that every employee needs to understand of the role of social media within the workplace and how it impacts them and their employer.

This often takes the form of a social media policy document sat somewhere on the intranet, but I believe that employees really need to demonstrate they understand the impact, not just read the policy document and tick a box.

Participating on social media can be very subjective.  Where possible make the training interactive so that employees are shown examples of online situations and asked to judge what their reaction would be.

This training is about enabling your employees to make the right judgements online – not providing rules on what should/shouldn’t be done.  Keep the rules of engagement in your company Code of Conduct document.

Social Impact Taster:

conversation2This is a great way to measure the level of social appetite within your employee community.  You can either run a webinar or a “Social Day” hiring a photographer to take professional photographs that employees can then use on their LinkedIn profile.

The objective is to explain to employees why maintaining a professional brand online is important in today’s digital workplace environment.  Help them to understand why investing in their brand is good for their career as well as for the company. 

Be transparent about why you’re launching a social advocacy program, the stages employees can go through and perhaps share some of the social listening insights you already have on the brand social channels.

Help them to feel part of a bigger journey with the brand.

Social Apprentice:

social apprentice icon.jpgFollowing the Social Impact Taster, you’ll identify some employees that will be interested in developing their professional brand further.  It’s quite likely that they’ll sit on different levels of the Tribal Impact Social Media Maturity Model so you may need to target your training accordingly.

Assuming your employees are starting from “social zero” the next logical step is to help them establish their professional brand online, build their network and help them create a personalised social listening dashboard to get them used to listening and reading around their area of expertise.

Give them tips on how to keyword optimise their profile, how to create a headline with impact, show them around the Privacy Settings on LinkedIn (which have recently been revised), advise on what makes a good professional photo.  All these basic steps are necessary before progressing further.

Word of caution:  Only engage employees that WANT to take part in the social advocacy program.  Enforced employee advocacy will be like pushing water up hill.  It won’t work so don’t waste your time.  This process takes time and works only when employees are engaged in the program.  Focus on engaged employees first…the rest will follow.

Social Expert:

social expert iconOnce you’ve established a core group of Social Apprentices, some may express an interest in developing further.

Having established a profile, built a core network and listening out for relevant content, our Social Expert program helps employees develop the skill of engagement and sharing.

Engagement is about understanding the reciprocal nature of social networking, helping employees appreciate the value in engagement before sharing including constructive comments, how to identify opportunities for engagement and how engagements can build relationships.

This is also the stage where employee advocacy tools come into their own.  Many employees are nervous about sharing content for fear of saying something wrong.  Use employee advocacy tools to help remove the scary factor from sharing.

Provide a mix of branded and non-branded content that your employees can take, customise and share to their networks at a time that suits them best.  Good for the brand and good for keeping their professional profile front-of-mind with their network – perfect for people in sales roles.

It’s at this point where we offer overlay programs for Social Selling, Social Marketing and Social HR.  Whilst the base level Social Apprentice course is the same, the Expert levels can be customised to suit the function an employee sits in.

We also introduce Twitter at this stage, helping employees to create a profile, build their network and understand the value Twitter brings to business.

Social Master:

social master iconThe final advocacy level in The Social Impact Program is Social Master.  It takes a while to get to this stage, but if an employee feels comfortable with their profile, network, engagements and sharing, the next logical step is to start creating content.

Encouraging employees to share opinions, expertise and knowledge through content creation.

From a training perspective, help employees understand the value of content creation.

Help them identify topics to write about, offer advice on optimising their posts, provide tips of how to optimise their social activity using tools that enable multi-channel management and introduce levels of automation.  Teach them how to best manage their community of followers and collaborate for content generation.

From the brands perspective, employee generated content holds a whole new level of credibility with audiences.  Suddenly you humanise the brand…personalities behind the logo!

For the employee, this kind of activity sets them on a journey towards influence and thought leadership.  They’ll be invited to speak at conferences or judge awards…all under the employer brand.

A Social Master is someone you need to look after within the business.  They hold influence, often large networks and have a unique perspective on the business.  They are ambassadors as well as evangelists.

Don’t alienate them from the business because they’re crafting a brand that could stand up next to the employer brand…integrate them into the business.  Give them access to leadership, involve them in strategic projects and invite them to corporate events.  Often these people don’t want rewards…they want to be heard…so listen.  They could be your most valuable change catalysts.


If you’re building a social advocacy program for your employees, partners or customers, I hope this structure has helped you some way towards figuring out a curriculum.  If you need any other advice, feel free to contact me on sarah@tribalimpact.com – happy to help!


Know Your Advocates. Focus Your Social Training

Last Sunday saw the 36th London marathon take place and as an aspiring marathon runner (I’ve only ever managed a half marathon – a funny story if you have time) I watched in awe as thousands of runners take to the road after months of training, dedication and endurance.

Each marathon runner sets their own training plan to suit their time schedules, ability and level of fitness.  Everyone runs at their own pace with their own motivations.

It’s a personal experience.

Find your advocates focus your training

Employee levels of social media maturity

The same came be said for employee advocacy.  Each employee will be at a different stage of their journey.  Some will be comfortable with using social media and will have a routine working for them.  Others will be reluctant to engage on social media because they don’t know where to start.

The tricky part comes when you try to understand which employees are at which level.

How do you know who is already advocating your brand?  How do you find the detractors?  Who has the strongest network?  Who has the potential to become an influencer?

Last November I wrote a blog post summarising the 9 stages of employee social media maturity.   I recognised early in my time leading social business EMEA at SAP that employees are at varying levels of maturity when it comes to social media expertise.

Employee Social Maturity Model

The model I developed struck a chord with many (thank you to those who have commented and shared the post) and since that time I’ve been working on the comments and suggestions left by readers.  They helped me explore the model further.

Social advocacy takes time to nurture.  It takes a careful blend of training, tools and content in order to make the magic happen.

The problem is, not every employee is starting at the same time.  To use the marathon analogy again, some are further around the course than others and your training needs to reflect that.

How do you find your social employees?

SociaLook is an innovative company that works to analyse, filter and present Twitter data in a way that can help organisations identify their employee advocates.

Their methodology is quite simple – they check the bio’s of Twitter accounts for mentions of the employer brand – but they use proprietary technology to analyse the data to create leader boards for each industry – a benchmark if you like.

They then analyse the tweets for mentions of the brand so you can quickly see which are accounts are already advocating and to what extent.

Adobe recognised the need for an employee advocacy program a few years ago and this effort has clearly paid off.  Analysis from SociaLook showed that more than 15% of Adobe’s employees had identified themselves in their Twitter bio and collectively they have almost 1.5 million followers and posted almost 4000 tweets about the brand in January alone.

The analysis further explores the kind of content that gets the most engagement and the platforms used most for engaging on Twitter.  This kind of data allows organisations to quickly identify who needs to focus on growing their network.

 employee advocacy leaderboard socialook.jpg

Mapping to find social media maturity levels

In recent months, I’ve been working with SociaLook to map their data to the Tribal Impact Employee Social Media Maturity Model.  By setting thresholds within the model, the data is mapped according to Followers (vertical axis) and Social Activity (horizontal axis).

In the example below we took the data from SAP (a company close to my heart) and mapped the employee data across the model using publicly available data via the Twitter API.

SAP is fairly mature when it comes to social business so it came as no surprise to me that over 5,000 employees were found on Twitter.  That’s just over 6% of the workforce.  Analysis focused on the 4,700 that had public accounts.

The “Followers” axis is simple to define and can be altered for each business/industry if necessary.  In this case we set the first vertical threshold at 500 followers and the second threshold at 2000 followers.

The “Social Activity” axis is set differently looking at level of engagement as a measure of maturity.  It’s great having 4,700 employees tweeting but if no-one is engaging with the content, it’s just noise.

For this axis we measured number of tweets and added it to a multiple number of engagements (retweets, likes) so that the weighting is skewed more towards engagement results than just the number of tweets published.

This means that even though an employee may be active (publishing 100 tweets a day), if there’s no engagement the score is plotted more to the left of the chart than to the right.

The resulting chart looks something like this:

Twitter Social Employee Mapping.jpg

The data allows the company, in this case SAP, to quickly visualise the engagement of their employees on Twitter and more importantly, focus the training to specific groups saving time, money and not frustrating employees who already know the basics.

For example, the largest section of employees (3,941) sit in the Inactive box.  It’s fair to assume that this group have previously shown some interest in being social.  They’ve secured their Twitter account and dabbled a little, but they may need support in building their activity level, finding content, sharing techniques etc.

On the flip side, you have Enthusiasts (68 of them) who are yielding good engagement on Twitter.  They almost certainly understand how to use Twitter but may need training on how to build their following.

Broadcasters (119), Collaborators (15) and Thought Leaders (52) hold the most potential to drive influence.  They have sizeable networks and share engaging content.  The next logical step for them is to start creating content.  Find those that are interested in developing further and offer them support to move to the next stage.

Finally, Connectors (43) are low hanging fruit.  They have a sizeable network but aren’t using it to it’s full potential.  It may be that they don’t want to – that’s fine – but give this group the option to develop their social brand.  Their reach is quite significant.

Twitter Is Great…But What About LinkedIn?

No one can beat the intelligence LinkedIn has about its user base and this particularly is true when it comes to employee advocacy.

As Daniel Roth, Executive Editor at LinkedIn, explains “employees have 10x the social following that their company has and those voices have much higher engagement. While only about 2% of employees re-share the content their companies share, they’re responsible for 20% of the overall engagement (views, likes, comments, and shares) that content receives.”

LinkedIn has what no other company has…the ability to benchmark employee shares on its platform vs brand shares – hence the reason they launched their advocacy tool, Elevate.

Using the openly available Social Selling Index (SSI), it is possible to plot employees to the same chart using Connections as the vertical axis and SSI score as the horizontal axis.

Here’s an example below using dummy data.

LinkedIn Social Employee Mapping.jpg
By and large, the same rules apply.  Focus the training to develop employees in the right skills.  Inactives in this case may have established a network over time but need to optimise their profile.

Companies that use employee advocacy tools may find they have many Broadcasters and Participators.  Employees that are sharing content are yielding reasonable engagement but perhaps aren’t sharing content that resonates best with their network.  This is where contextual training is just as important as training on the tools.

Find Your Success Stories & Share Them

Knowing who your success stories are really can help support an employee advocacy or social selling program.  This model allows you to easily identify them.

Once you know who they are, help them share their experiences.  Find your Collaborators, Influencers and Thought Leaders and get them to tell their story – short videos where they explain their journey, what it’s helped them achieve in their role and one top tip they would share with others who want to succeed.


The Many Questions To Ask Before Investing In An Employee Advocacy Tool


This is my third and final post in a series around employee advocacy tools.  The first addressed 19 employee advocacy tools worth checking out, the second went on to list 7 smart employee advocacy features that could save both time and money.


If you’re a little further down the line with employee advocacy and already talking to a number of vendors then perhaps this post is for you.  I’ve listed and categorised questions (and there are many) that you should ask about from user interface and tool functionality through to data protection and compliance.

Let me know if you feel something should be added.  I’m more than happy to extend the list as we learn from experience.

the many questions to ask before investing in an employee advocacy tool.jpg

User Interface

  • Can employees easily use the application via mobile and tablet devices?
  • What does the employee dashboard look like on all devices?  E.g. Mobile, laptop, tablet
  • Which languages does the tool support?
  • Do employees have the ability to customise posts before publishing?
  • How do users add content to the platform?  Do they have to log in and copy/paste a URL into the system or can they install a Chrome Extension where they can suggest content via their browsing experience?
  • Can employees set up an auto-schedule feature so they can build a backlog of posts to share within the tool?
  • Can the auto-schedule feature be tailored for each social channel?  E.g. Publish 5x a day for Twitter but only 2x a day for LinkedIn
  • What gamification do you include in the platform?  e.g. Leaderboard
  • How are incentives (if any) awarded?  Third party reward company ?
  • How do we ensure that we comply with local employee incentive/award legislations?
  • Is it possible to alter the reward mechanism so we provide incentives on engagements or clicks generated, not just posts shared?


  • How do you charge for the tool?  E.g. License based, pay per engagement, flat fee
  • How do we scale up the program?  E.g. Blocks of licenses, performance based licensing
  • How do we extend the advocacy tool out to business partners and perhaps even customers?
  • What are the contract conditions?  E.g. sign up for a year, 3 month notice period
  • What happens to the data should we terminate the contract?


  • How long would it typically take to launch the program to a small pilot group?
  • What kind of internal communication plan would you advise we put together?
  • What invitation/registration ratio should we expect?
  • Do you have an automated email nurturing system in place?  E.g. we set up pre-written emails to prompt invited users to register before their license is reallocated
  • Do you have automated trigger alerts in place?  E.g. Users who haven’t logged in for more than 2 months receive notification that their license will be revoked and reallocated within 14 days
  • How many administrators can manage the tool?
  • Can we alter the permissions of different administrators within the tool?


  • What reporting capabilities do you have within the platform?
  • Can we customise report layouts?
  • Can we set up reports to be emailed on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
  • Are we able to export the raw data to extract further value?
  • Are we able to add UTM tracking links so we can monitor inbound traffic to our website via Google Analytics
  • How do we identify our best performing content?  E.g. Most shared, most engaged, most clicked
  • How do we identify our top influencers generating the most engagement?
  • How do we calculate the Earned Media Value of employee shares?


  • What automated feeds can we set up to bring content into the tool via external sources?  E.g. RSS feeds – Forbes, HBR
  • Is there AI learning capability built-in so the tool learns from the content shared and only pulls in relevant content going forward?
  • How do we feed content into the tool via internal sources?
  • How can we categorise content within the platform?
  • How can we categorise our users?
  • Can we pre-categorise users before we invite them to the platform?
  • Can we prioritise content within the tool so that highlighted content features towards the top of an individual employees dashboard?
  • What processes/workflows are in place for content approval within the tool?
  • Can we archive content after a set period of time?  Can we set that period of time?
  • What experience do you have in highly regulated industries around content workflows/processes?
  • Can we distribute and allow employees to interact with internal only content via the tool?
  • Can we setup one-off campaigns within the platform that run for a specific time period?  E.g. Event campaigns
  • What language filters can we set up within the system so that translated articles are only made available to specific country users?


  • Can we set up triggers and alerts around keywords to notify us when users submit content that does not comply with our policies?
  • What’s your policy around employee data protection?
  • Can we have different user agreements for different countries where employee contracts are different?

Integration & Support

  • Do you have single sign-on integration?
  • How does the tool integrate with CRM tools?
  • How does the tool integrate with marketing automation tools?
  • What training do you provide around the tool?
  • What’s your support SLA?
  • Do you have a local team in my country that I can talk to if needed?
  • How do we handle end-user queries e.g. log-in issues?  Do you have a help desk they can directly contact?

Additional Questions

  • Do you have a reference customer in my industry that I can speak to?
  • We would like to run a 3 month pilot – is this possible?
  • How do we keep employees engaged within the platform?

Any to add?

7 Smart Employee Advocacy Features That Could Save You Time (& Money)

In my last post, I listed 19 of the most recognized employee social advocacy tools on the market but watch this space –  I’m sure new ones will be added to the list.

I’ve been lucky enough to view demonstrations and even use many of the tools first hand.

As a result, I’ve collated what I feel are some of the best features to watch out for that, in all honesty, will save you time and ultimately money when it comes to selecting an employee advocacy tool.



1.  Integrate Your Internal Communications

It’s easy to mistake employee advocacy as just a way of getting content into the hands of employees to share to their social networks, but recent research from Altimeter, a Prophet company (via @EdTerpening) shows the impact goes way beyond just amplification of content.

When asked how employees felt after sharing content, the top two answers were “I feel more connected and enthusiastic about the company I work for” and “I better understand my employer’s business”.

employees motivated by shared benefits of employee advocacy.jpg

Employee advocacy is a great way to keep employees informed of business updates.  As such, one of the vendors (Dynamic Signal) have broadened their suite of offerings to incorporate a stronger internal communications focus allowing internal only content to be shared with employees.  What’s more, employees can engage with the “internal only” content within the platform reducing email traffic around the business.


2.  Calculate Earned Media Value

Truth be known, most of the advocacy tools incorporate a strong set of analytics including most engaged employees, leader boards, impressions, clicks, engagements – all the typical social metrics you would come to expect from a social management tool.

The ability to slice and dice the information is where you’ll start to extract value from the data so it’s important that you can export the data for further analysis.  According to the Altimeter, a Prophet company study, only 11% of brands report “Reduction in social advertising spend” as a metric their capture and I feel organisations are really missing an opportunity here.

blog - altimeter financial metrics.jpg

Some tools address this opportunity quite well.  SmarpShare will allow you to see the Earned Media Value of the clicks generated from your employees – a metric that marketing will be interested to benchmark against existing paid media spend.

3.  Connect Your Inbound Sales & Marketing Efforts

In addition to the base level analytics above, you may also want to consider integrating Google tracking links.  If your business uses Google Analytics to measure website impact, some employee advocacy tools will allow you to add UTM parameters to the end of your links so that you can tally the impact of employee shares with your marketing efforts.

If you were to share a blog post via your advocacy tool including a UTM code attached to the end of the URL, you should be able to track the path of any generated traffic through your website and even to conversion/download.

If your marketing automation system is connected with your CRM system, you could even track this through to pipeline.  Imagine that…calculating the value of referral marketing and #socialselling.

4.  Save Time With Intelligent Content Curation

Content can fast become an administrative headache for anyone managing an employee advocacy tool. Finding content, approving content, archiving content – it can become a full time job unless you have it set up correctly. 

In fact, providing content to share (53%) and keeping employees engaged in the program (49%) lead the list of challenges brands faced when driving employee advocacy programs (Source: Altimeter, a Prophet company)

blog - altimeter advocacy challenges.jpg

What I like about the offering from TrapIt is the intelligent learning capability that’s built into the platform.  It will track the kind of content an employee shares and will start to customise their individual experience based on sharing preferences.

This approach provides a better user experience for the employee but can also reduce a lot of the admin hassle associated with correctly tagging and categorising content.

5.  Tailor The Employee Experience

Some platforms such as Grapevine 6 Publisher go one step further and provide the content customisation ability up front.

Interestingly, they’ve built their entire platform around the individual employee rather than a centrally managed corporate hub.  When employees align their social accounts to the tool, it will scan the content they’ve already shared and make suggestions as to what might interest them.

This gives employees a kick-start in the right direction.  They’re not bamboozled by a screen full of content that isn’t relevant to them.  As such they’re more likely to engage and participate from that first login experience.

6.  Make It Easy For Employees To Contribute

They key to driving a successful content hub is to quickly move it from being a ‘managed’ hub to a ‘self-fuelling’ system.

Either way, a well-managed advocacy program will have a healthy mix of branded and non-branded content.  Encouraging employees to feed content into the system is a great way of exchanging knowledge around the company and across the network.

blog - altimeter advocacy content shares.jpg

Tools like PostBeyond and Dynamic Signal allow employees to add a Chrome Extension to their browser so they can easily post content to the advocacy tool without copying and pasting URLs.  By altering the incentive formula, it’s possible to shift the weighting of awarded points – participants are awarded more for contributing than just sharing.

7.  Think Big:  Include The Eco-system

Finally, I believe it’s important to recognise that advocacy goes beyond the employee network.  There is no reason why the entire business eco-system cannot get involved in an advocacy program including partners and even customers.  Having a tool that is flexible enough to grow with the social advocacy program is an advantage.

This is what I appreciate about Influitive.  These guys have come from the customer advocacy end of the spectrum and worked it back into the employee advocacy space.  They understand the value of referral marketing and focus heavily on community building and the advocate experience.

Training + Tools + Content = Social Advocacy Success

It’s important to recognise the learning journey that employees go through when they start to build their professional brand online.  Sharing content comes later in that journey – they first need to build their profile, build their network, listen to the industry and start engaging with others first.

For those that embark on sharing, the next logical step is content creation and this is where I believe it gets really interesting.

Encouraging employee generated content has to be the most engaging and authentic social strategy a business can lead.  Empowering employees to have a voice and then have the brand amplify their employees voice just tips the whole advocacy proposition on its head.

It’s not just about getting content to employees – it’s about facilitating the process whereby employees can share peer-generated content.  A more credible and authentic content strategy.

5 Componenets Employee Advocacy Strategy

I currently don’t see any of the advocacy vendors stepping into this space.  Newscred have done a lot of work around content creation workflows and publishing but not via advocacy channels – just branded channels.  It’ll be interesting to see whether this part of the tool evolves with time.


In the third and final part of this blog post series I’ll list out some questions you might want to ask yourself and the advocacy tool vendors.

Let me know if there’s  a topic you’d like me to cover – feel free to suggest it in the comments section below.

19 Employee Advocacy Tools Worth Checking Out

“Did I miss the whole “Employee Advocacy” thing?  It seems to have just…appeared”

Last week I had 3 separate conversations about the sudden emergence of employee advocacy and how this new phenomenon is starting to blast its way onto the scene in 2016.

With it comes questions and often confusion.

What tools are available?  How are they different?  When is the right time to buy a tool?  Do I really need a tool?  Does it serve my specific requirements?

employee advocacy tools worth checking out.jpg

Recent research from Altimeter, a Prophet company has shown that 90% of brands are either planning employee advocacy programs or are already active so chances are you have already experienced employee advocacy but just didn’t realise it.

What makes it especially tricky is that advocacy is often driven by different functions within different business e.g. Internal Communications, Marketing, Sales or even HR

If you’ve heard the concept of social selling you are already experiencing employee advocacy…just the sales focused version of it.

Employee advocacy is way bigger than Social Selling

I’ve always believed and championed that every employee has the potential to influence a sale no matter where they sit in the organisation.

The receptionist that greets your customer, the marketing executive that manages your customers event registration, the telephone operator who will direct your customers call – everyone influences the customer experience and has the ability to connect people.

A true social business will recognize the customer experience value that comes with enabling the entire workforce to build their professional brands online, provide content guidance and support them in creating content if they wish to do so.

Look who’s talking about Employee Advocacy

Most of the folks out there leading the Employee Advocacy message are the companies that offer the tools to help the whole process run smoother.  They do this by making it easy for employees to share pre-approved content to their social networks.

This is great for the employer because they get to maintain some control through a centrally administered content distribution system as well as all the analytics behind it.

Great for employee because they can step into content sharing without any fear of sharing something that is potentially damaging for them or their employer.

But remember that starting the tool is just part of the solution – not the only solution!


19 Employee/Social Advocacy Tools

This is my first post in a mini-series about employee advocacy tools and I’m starting with the basics and answering the first question at the start – what tools are available?

In this post I’ll list the tools that are out there to help you understand the options available. The second post will explore the features I love about some of these tools. The final post will suggest some questions you should ask before buying.

So what’s available?

Here’s a list I’ve collated so far in alphabetical order…

Go check them out.  Most will offer a demo.  For in-depth analysis on these tools (and more) it’s worth checking out this post (Buyer Guide:  Social Employee Advocacy Software) from Chris Boudreaux as he explores different insights that may impact the purchasing decision.

All have their merits – some are new to the market, others have been established for many years.  Some are more suitable to enterprise budgets and others more to SME budgets.

To my knowledge all operate in the cloud and/or via mobile apps so no hefty investments or programming skills needed.

Intuitive design and cloud technology make these purchases scalable, flexible and relatively quick and easy to implement.

The choice of tool will depend on your requirements, the stage you’re at and of course the budget you have available.

Coming up in part 2…

In the next post I’ll explore the features I like from some of the products.

If you’re in the middle of a project or looking to start an employee advocacy project in 2016, let me know how you’re getting on and if there’s  a topic you’d like me to cover then feel free to suggest it in the comments below.

20 Must-Have Guidelines For Employee Social Media

My 4 year old daughter is learning to ride a bike.  It’s a whole new chapter for us as a family.  Wobbles, falls, tears and then back on the bike.

It’s hard to watch but you know that learning a life skill comes from experience and providing guidance…not by handing her a manual on “how to ride a bike”.

In my last post “Time To Rethink Your Social Media Policy?” I discussed the reasons why organisations should look at their social media policy again and think more about “guidelines”.

Times have changed and more organisations are recognising the productivity value of employees using social media, especially when it comes to social selling.

20 must have guidelines for employee social media.jpg

It’s really important in this digital age that employees understand the risks – both personally and professionally – when conducting themselves on social media.

Social media guidelines not only protect the organisation (e.g if an employee shares something that damages the reputation of the brand) but should also protect the employee.

Guidance around etiquette and improper usage of social media will help the employee embrace the technology for their professional brand in a safer environment whilst potentially advocating on behalf of the company brand.

So what should be included in a set of Social Media Guidelines?

Here goes…

Opening paragraph – Outline why you’re encouraging employees to actively participate in social media.  Reinforce that these guidelines are there to help protect them as employees and the brand as the employer.

If you’re building a wider employee advocacy program, explain why the brand is helping employees to develop their professional brand online – how it assists them and how their participation can support the brand.

At this point you should introduce the levels of program participation and point them to where they can get training so they can take their first step into social networking.

I would encourage you to make your guidelines conversational in tone and straight forward in approach – no social media jargon that may confuse or cause ambiguity.

Often employees are scared to mention their employer for fear of doing something wrong, so avoid scaring your employees further.  Keep the guidelines informal perhaps even “tongue in cheek”.  Focus on actively encouraging employees to be transparent and enthused ambassadors of the brand.

  1. Sshhhhh – Always make sure employees are aware of confidentiality when it comes to company and customer related information. You wouldn’t share confidential content at a networking event and so you wouldn’t share confidential content by social media.  No different.
  2. Haven’t I Seen That Before? – Be sure employees understand image using rights, copyright and other legal constraints that may restrict their social media usage.
  3. Be Nice – Make sure employees understand that they must respect their audiences and they must not be dishonourable in terms of racial, ethnic, religious or sexual slurs that may offend – their professional brand will be tied to their personal brand and such commentary isn’t acceptable in the office…nor on social networking.  It’s not nice.
  4. Leave It To The Legal Eagles – Don’t disclose financial or legal information around customers or clients.  Be sure that employees understand the boundaries of what they should and shouldn’t be sharing. Remind them of their contractual obligations to the business when they became an employee and just emphasise that social media is no different to what they’re already doing.
  5. Passion Is Healthy. Anger Is Not – Emotions can run at a high when you’re on social media, especially if you feel something or someone has been mis-represented.  Spirited discussions are good. All out fights are not.  We’ve all been there – that email that that winds you up on Friday night so you respond by hitting the keyboard with all your anger…then you walk away, return and re-write it.  Same with social networking.
  6. No Pseudo Identities – Social is about conversations and people like to know they are conversing with someone genuine and credible.  Be human, be proud and declare who you work for.  Identifying yourself and that you connect to the employer brand as an employee is good in terms of transparency and credibility.  At the end of the day people are your brand.  Encourage them to be proud of that association.
  7. It’s All About Me – Encourage employees to talk in the first person on social media. Social networking is what it says…social.  A channel for discussions, conversations and networking. People don’t have conversations with logos – they have conversations with people.
  8. Be Helpful – Encourage employees to think about their audience and serve their audience. Building a community by adding value and encouraging their community members to engage is the right kind of usage for social media.  No-one wants to convert employees into marketing megaphones.  Teach them to learn and share.
  9. Oops…Now What? – Tell employees to be the first person to respond to mistakes. Don’t leave it and wait. Tell them that if they’ve made a mistake on social media make some headway towards fixing it and setting the record straight.  Still not happy?  Contact the social media team.
  10. What’s Said On Social Stays On Social – This might be a good time to remind employees that the Internet remembers: always pause and think before posting. The Internet remembers what you do and it records it.  If you delete that tweet the chances are someone has retweeted it or shared it. You deleting it from your twitter profile will not delete the shares that have already taken place.
  11. Use Common Sense – No one is perfect but if you use your best judgement and common sense when engaging on social media you won’t go far wrong – remind employees that this is how they already operate day-to-day.
  12. Respect The Offline Rule – Not everyone wants to have their photo shared all over social media.  Give some thought into the conversations that you have offline with your colleagues or customers and give guidance around maintaining the privacy of those conversations. For example if you go to an event and you take a photo it is only polite to ask permission of the people in the photo if you can post it to social media.
  13. Follow Us – Encourage your employees to follow your branded social channels. It is a great place for employees to start engaging in content that is “safe”.  Employees will know that content from their employer is going to be branded and ready for sharing.  They can start engaging with easy content that will help them ease into social networking.
  14. We’re Here To Help – Provide a point of contact. Employees may come across conversations that they won’t be able to participate in e.g. a journalist has contacted them. In such cases make it easy for your employees to contact someone internally so they can easily step out of the discussion.
  15. Monitoring Feeds – Be sure that you tell your employees that any activity they participate in on social media may appear in the brands social monitoring feeds (assuming you have them!)  and that it is likely that their participation may feature in the monitoring feed.
  16.  Social Etiquette – Many organisations will have a code of conduct already in place. When employees sign the contract to join the company, a code of conduct is often used to inform employees on how the company expects them to behave. Remind employees that the code of conduct is also relevant to online activity.
  17. Move It Offline – Explain to employees that they should never commit the company to resolution – take it offline. It’s not right nor reasonable to expect employees to commit the brand to follow up on something specific without doing due diligence or further investigation. Just remind the employees of customer service protocols for dealing with complaints.
  18.  Take Care – Remind employees to think about what they post before they post it.  Help them realise that they not only need to take care of the potential risk to themselves but also the risk to the brand. Stop, pause and think before posting.
  19. Remember The Day Job – It’s easy to get swallowed up in social networking so just remind folks that it’s there to assist their role.
  20. Enjoy It – Employees that activate their professional brand online will open up new opportunities e.g. speaking opportunities, new customers, learning from others.  It’s a great way to connect and build their own network…for them!


All that said, the proof is in the execution.

Don’t write the document, host it on the intranet and hope folks find it.  Encourage employees to collaborate in building the guidelines.  Have a launch party.  Do a desk drop.

Use the re-launch as an excuse to find your social superstars and potentially your best advocates.  Combine guideline training with “personal brand” training to engage the audience in something that helps them develop.

For more inspiration, check out these:

  • Ford:  A bit dated but a great example of how to get your guidelines to fit on one page.
  • IBM:  Lengthy and wordy but probably the most comprehensive you’ll find.
  • GAP:  Straight talking with humour – EVERYONE will understand
  • SAP:  Shout-out to my previous employer – bit dated but it got us all started!
  • Coca-Cola:  Bit formal but easy to read and not too long
  • Lots more can be found here…

Let me know if you feel in your missing and potentially we could come up with the ultimate list of guidelines for social media and employees – let’s help each other out!

If you need any assistance in creating a set of guidelines or indeed launching an advocacy program within your organisation, please do not hesitate to reach out.

I am seriously passionate about helping people and organisations achieve social business success.  Let’s talk – sarah@tribalimpact.com


Time To Rethink Your Social Media Policy?

Social Media Policy and GuidelinesDo this, don’t do that – or perhaps just don’t do social media at all.

Sound familiar?

An employee social media policy is commonplace within organisations today.

It often takes the form of a multi-page document that’s filed somewhere on the intranet under the “social media” page.

Most of these documents were written out of necessity at a time when internet usage within the workplace was typically frowned upon as a waste of time.

Times have changed.

More organisations recognise the productivity value of using social media especially when it comes to social selling however, many policies haven’t grown with the evolution of technology.

Furthermore, smart organisations are recognising the advocacy value of social media encouraging employees to actively participate and create their own content.  By doing so, brands showcase the great expertise they have working for the company and increase the reach of content via the more trusted and loyal networks of employees.

Taking The Scary Out Of Social

However, employees are often reluctant to participate in professional social networking for fear of saying something wrong or getting into trouble.

Last month data released by the Freedom of Information act revealed that the number of UK council employees suspended for misusing social media grew 15% in 2015.

Stories like this often scare employees and it’s down to the employer to take the scary out of social if they want to foster a culture of advocacy and create a team of social ambassadors.

time to rethink your social media policyProtecting Both Employee & Employer

A good social media policy will protect the organisation from employees inadvertently sharing content that may damage the brand or reputation.

It will also protect the employee by providing important guidance around social media etiquette and what is and isn’t acceptable.

The social media policy can no longer be a tick box exercise.  As mobile technology has evolved, more employees are using social media within the workplace, whether you like it or not.

Understandably, the risk to the brand has increased, so it’s important for businesses today to be clear about their position around social media usage within the workplace and embrace the willingness of employees to participate.

“The social media policy now needs to live within the culture of the business – not on the intranet” @sarahgoodall  (Click to tweet)

Moving from “Social Policy” to “Social Culture”

Moving from social policy to social culture.jpg

Is Your Company Ready For This?

Before you do anything, be sure that your company is ready for a shift in culture.  Look at indicators such as employee engagement, Glassdoor reviews and whether you already have some social superstars within the organisation.

Perhaps you’re already using an internal social platform such as Chatter, Jive Software or Slack.  This encourages transparent and honest communication across the business – a great way for employees to step into social media within the confines of an internal network.

Seek Out An Executive Sponsor

Someone senior within the business needs to champion this change – partly because it impacts employee development and engagement but also because it will require investment.

This isn’t a case of re-writing the policy and uploading it to the intranet again.  It’s about re-writing the policy and making sure employees understand the impact it has on them and their employer.

Revisit The Legal Landscape

Legal and technological changes are happening all the time.  It’s important to understand the impact this has on your social media policy and explain the impact it has on employees e.g. if an employee starts to use Twitter as part of their role, who owns their Twitter account?  What happens if a disgruntled ex-employee starts posting negatively about the brand?

Be clear with employees on their contractual relationship to the company and how “code of conduct” transfers to social networking.

Build A Staged Social Media Program

Provide a path that employees can follow when it comes to learning about social media, allowing them to progress to a point they are comfortable with.  The more advanced they become the stronger their influence within their area of expertise and the more valuable they become to the business in terms of content generation and brand exposure.

Re-write The Policy…Into Guidelines

Write a set of guidelines that will empower and inspire employees to get involved rather than policing the do’s and don’ts around social networking.  As IBM state within their guidelines “IBM’s greatest asset—the expertise of its employees—can be shared with clients, shareholders, and the communities in which it operates.”  Encourage participation but provide guidance on how.

Keep the guidelines conversational and straight talking.  Don’t baffle employees with technical social media jargon that may cause ambiguity. Check out GAPs social media guidelines for inspiration.  A bit light on content but you won’t be confused!

Launch A Training Curriculum

Finally, it’s no longer enough to file the guidelines as COMPLETE and pop them on the intranet for employees to go seek out.  They need to be embedded throughout the culture starting with the on-boarding process.  How you deliver the training will depend on what suits your culture – an animated video, an illustrated guide, a series of webinars.

Launch the advancement program by asking all employees to participate in the guidelines – encourage feedback.  Here you’ll be able to identify the employees that are keen to advance to the next level of social media training.  These could potentially become your best advocates.

In the next post I’ll detail out what should be included in a set of guidelines along with examples from organisations leading they way when it comes to transforming into a social business culture.



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