Why You Should Care About Employee Advocacy

employee advocacy

Entrepreneur.com recently did an article listing “Must-Use Apps for Marketers.” They included some applications for employee advocacy, which caught my attention. Do we care? Turns out, yes, we should.

What it is:

Employee advocacy is the promotion of an organization by its staff members.  A business may ask employees to actively promote the organization, often through social media, as an element of their jobs. However, the most compelling employee advocacy consists of freely-offered communications on the part of the workforce. – whatis.techtarget.com

In other words, employee advocacy is when your team lead sends out an email asking you to tweet something or reminding you to share your company’s latest blog post. Many companies are very casual about employee advocacy today, but maybe they shouldn’t be.

Why you should care:

Reach

  • Dell found only an 8% overlap between the company’s Twitter followers and those of its employees – proving that by utilizing their own employees, they could reach many, many more people.
  • Dynamic Signal estimates that the average employee reaches 1,140 followers on social media. Identify the top social media gurus at your company and your reach could become even more powerful.

Engagement

  • Content shared by employees receives 8x the engagement of content on branded channels.

Conversion

  • Traffic generated by employee advocates converts more than twice as fast as that from traditional marketing tactics
  • Nielsen estimates a 90% conversion rate when a trusted connection suggests a product
  • 78% of sales people using social media outsell their peers not using social media

[Check out the infographics at the end of this post for even more statistics]

How you should manage it: 

The companies that benefit the most from employee advocacy have advanced beyond the “Please tweet this” email. They utilize sophisticated online tools to both distribute content to employees and monitor their activity. According to Entrepreneur.com, there are many up and coming new tools on the market, but here are the three most worth using right now:

Dynamic Signal

SoAmpli

EveryoneSocial

Have you tried any of these yet? Other resources to share? Please tweet me at @RachelLColello or comment below!

In the meantime, here is some employee advocacy infographic eye candy:

 

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Rude People Suck. You Should Point It Out To Them.

Source: Wikipedia

I recently read Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, and it was every bit as funny, thoughtful, and delightful as I thought it would be. I love the way she describes her boys as being delicious, and how she preaches that childhood should be all about sweaty kids with skinned knees. But, as the Levo League recently reminded me, I especially love her particular brand of ComeBacks for Dealing with Rude People.

Rude people suck. If we let them, they can take the “good” out of a good day faster than bad traffic. Rude people are also bad for business. That isn’t because we are overly sensitive or thin skinned – it is an actual proven fact. In a study completed in 2012, rudeness from coworkers increased employees’ absenteeism and decreased their sales performance. Which makes sense, because rude people make us want to disengage… the opposite of staying engaged with our work.

In many cases, it is best to just shake off rudeness and move on with your day. But sometimes you cannot and should not keep your mouth shut. So when faced with a rude person who has crossed the line, Amy Poehler points it out to them. Here are three examples of how to do this, as highlighted by Levo League author Kathleen Harris:

Example 1: Call it what it is. When a producer told Poehler to relax after her routine was cut short, Poehler said, “This is the part where you apologize to me. You guys screwed up and this is where you make me feel better about it.” She added why: “I like to use this tactic on people. When someone is being rude, abusing their power, or not respecting you, just call them out in a really obvious way.”

Example 2: Act genuinely shocked by the act of rudeness. In another instance, Poehler said, “I can’t understand why you are being rude because you are the concierge and this is the part of the evening where the concierge helps me.” She explained: “Act like they are an actor who has forgotten what part they are playing. It brings the attention back to them and gives you a minute to calm down so you don’t do something silly like burst into tears or break their stupid *** glasses.”

Example 3: Remind them, it’s them not you. “If you do start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say ‘I’m just crying because of how wrong you are.’”

Are these examples office appropriate? Maybe not (I’d be curious to hear @AskAManager’s opinion). But they require you to use your spine. They do not require you to raise your voice. They also give you the opportunity to say how you are feeling in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, and they don’t let the other person off the hook for making you feel that way. So the next time someone is disrespectful or rude to you, maybe you need to point it out to them.

Is Print Back? How Do We Feel About This?

B2BMarketing.net did a nice post earlier this month with their content marketing predictions for 2015. One of their biggest predictions? That print will become the new “B2B disruptor” tactic.

I am instantly of two minds about this. Even in the B2B world, many people have a lot of nostalgia for high quality print marketing campaigns. Full disclosure – I joined the workforce right as the .com bubble was bursting, so I arguably missed out on the glory days of print marketing. But I still remember the care and creativity that would go into creating a print marketing campaign… particularly a B2B piece targeting busy executives. Each decision would be made so carefully, from the witty but elegant creative to the expensive feeling paper and embossed envelope. We would imagine the target customer sitting in his or her beautiful executive office, opening our piece of mail, and then picking up the phone and calling the sales team to enter our sales funnel.

And then I groan… because it reminds me of how much work a print campaign requires. I think it has actually gotten more difficult to effectively execute a print campaign because people have forgotten what it takes to execute one well – namely more time and more budget than many faster, simpler online alternatives require. As much as your agency would love to create and execute an award-winning print campaign for you, they cringe a little when you bring it up because they are waiting for you to rush the creative, demand edits after the work has been sent to the printer, and try to negotiate for cheaper paper (PLEASE NEVER USE CHEAP PAPER).

Let’s choose to be optimistic. I agree with the concept that our email inboxes are overflowing and getting a beautiful piece of snail mail can be a lovely experience. So I will choose to hope that brands will selectively use snail mail in situations where they can plan ahead, budget appropriately, and provide a great brand experience for their target customers.

For further inspiration, let’s take a look at some recent attention-grabbing print campaigns:

Image credit: http://www.adeevee.com/aimages/200904/27/green-belgium-world-water-day-letter-direct-marketing-148583-adeevee


Image credit: https://www.behance.net/Gallery/Direct-Mail-Christmas-Card-2004/228135


Image credit: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/watch-cats-basically-hump-direct-mail-coated-kitty-crack-155799

So logical, and yet I still have to imagine that after a marathon brainstorming session someone finally said, “screw it, let’s just rub the damn thing with catnip.”


Image credit: https://www.behance.net/Gallery/Touch-Branding-Corporate-Identity/196968

Creepy, but creative.

Are you optimistic about the “return” of print? Do you have a favorite snail mail campaign? Please share in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Do a 15-Minute Mid-Year Check-In

Mid Year Check-In

I love the concept of blocking off a whole morning to do my mid-year check-in. Sitting down for several hours of quiet reflection where I thoughtfully review my goals for the year, preferably with coffee and chocolate, sounds glorious. Maybe I’ll do it next year. This week I will be doing a 15-minute check-in and I will make every minute count. Here is how:

2 minutes – Ask: What are my New Year’s Resolutions? I will start by reminding myself what my resolutions are for 2015. Then I will list those out on a piece of paper so that they stare back at me.

2 minutes – Ask: How much progress have I made on each? So far, I have made great progress with my first resolution, but I haven’t come as far on my second. No need to spend time writing down the “why” – unless you don’t know, and then by all means, please explore that. We only have 15 minutes, so we want to use that time to focus on the future and moving forward.

2 minutes – Ask: Are these still the right resolutions? For me, the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘yes.’ When in doubt, go with your gut reaction. If you aren’t sure, then you need to get curious and ask some more questions. Why are you hesitating? Is it harder than you thought or have your priorities truly changed? If your priorities have changed, then your resolutions should too and there is nothing wrong with that. As we discussed at the beginning of the year, 90-day resolutions may be more effective anyway.

9 minutes – Ask: What are my next steps? For the blog, I will take a few minutes to look at my budget and calendar, and then I will schedule a call with the graphic designer I have meaning to speak with. For my second resolution, I will log in to Meetup.com to choose a new local group to join… and then I will click “Join.” This last step is critical. If you do not identify your next steps and take action, then you have just wasted the previous six minutes. You do not need to map out a full tactical plan – just literally identify the next small step you can take and DO IT. Right now. Put it into your calendar, make the phone call, send the email, update your grocery list… whatever. By taking action you are making a micro-movement forward and you are resetting your momentum.

That’s it! If you have more time, that is great. But if not, congratulate yourself on making progress and go back to the other to-dos on your list.

Why bother doing a check-in at all? As explained beautifully in this TEDed video, people who are most successful at making changes in their lives use periods of time where they have strong will power to prepare for those times when they have weak will power. The video gives the example of chopping up healthy veggies and putting them at eye level in the fridge BEFORE you get hungry. Then when your will power is lowest, when you are starving, the “tough” healthy eating decision becomes easy because you already made it. In just 15 minutes, you can apply the same concept to your New Year’s Resolution by reviewing your progress to-date and setting your next steps in motion. But again, the key is taking action, no matter how small.

Need some more help? Gretchen Rubin (author of the bestselling book The Happiness Project) gives some very practical advice in this article.

How are you progressing on your 2015 resolutions?

My Latest Addiction: The Ask A Manager Blog

Ask A Manager

Have you discovered the Ask A Manager Blog yet? It is so addicting! The blog, published by Alison Green, is basically a “Dear Abby” style column, where people send in questions about how to handle professional situations – typically issues involving their manager, being a manager, or hiring/firing.

Why I love it:

  1. It is almost like reality TV – you can’t turn away from the train wreck. You have to love the opportunity to peek into other people’s crazy work environments. Here are two of the best weird posts:
    1. My team sent me a bag of garbage while I was recovering from surgery
    2. My boss has phone sex with his office door open
  1. At least 80% of the questions fall into the category “Am I crazy, or is this inappropriate?” So many times in my career, I have wondered the exact same thing! Alison provides a reality check and most of the time I agree with her. Her answers are pretty balanced. It is almost like discussing work situations at happy hour with a very experienced, impartial third party. Sometimes you just need to hear someone else say “yes, that is crazy” or “no, that actually sounds reasonable (so suck it up).” I am also a HUGE fan of when Alison clarifies the difference between saying you are uncomfortable with a situation and saying you flat out won’t do something. Too many of us (both men and women) won’t draw lines in the sand and stand up for ourselves, even when it is perfectly reasonable to do so.
  1. Everything is packaged up nicely. Her content is well written. Her website is pretty clean and easy to navigate. The tone of her writing is consistent from the About page to her blog posts. In particular, her About page does a great job of both introducing her blog and giving you a very clear picture of her view of the world. Many small businesses could benefit from structuring their own About pages in a similar way. I always appreciate someone putting quality content into the world.

There are so many interesting posts that are genuinely useful, not like the phone sex creepers above… here are just a few to wet your appetite:

Have you followed Ask a Manager? Please share your favorite posts! Are there any other Q/A style blogs I should check out?

You Do You: Everyone is a Leader [Part 4 of 4]

Be a leader

Finally, as the last post in our four part series, let’s discuss organizations that value leadership. Obviously all organizations value leadership in one form or another, but some throw the word around a lot more than others. In many ways, this series is all about being the leader of your own career – Identifying your organization’s goals, your own goals, and then initiating the steps required to get you there.

How to know if your organization values leadership:

  • During performance reviews, you are questioned about projects you led, specific tasks that you were responsible for, and/or the amount of input you provided on a team/committee/project
  • Your role allows you a lot of flexibility – work from home days, flex time, etc
  • Your role provides a lot of visibility – e.g. client-facing roles, customer relationship roles, etc
  • Your higher-ups say things like, “We want/expect everyone to be a leader”

Three tips for being more of a leader at work:

  1. Never guess what your boss wants to see** – Just like “collaboration,” “leadership” is a word with many meanings and connotations. You may work at an organization where everyone is encouraged to lead a team at least once… be it the party planning committee or a major capital project. Or, you may work at an organization where the words “be a leader” just mean “take initiative”… and your manager would like to see you proactively bring new ideas to his or her attention. The good news is that your organization’s definition of leadership is usually pretty easy to nail down. Try to always ask “Can you give me an example, please?” the next time someone brings up leadership.
  2. Pick one area to improve at a time – I maintain that adding one or two new best practices to your workweek is the easiest way to make measurable improvement without too much added stress. But if you are trying to improve your leadership skills, I would make it even more granular. Pick just one project to focus on and try to make incremental changes to your work on that project. In your next performance review, you will be able to point out what worked and what didn’t work in that specific situation, rather than speaking in generalities across the board.
  3. Balance outside of work – Like everything else we have discussed in this series, cultivating a “leader” mindset outside the office can really help you inside the office as well. For you that might be volunteering to lead a committee at church, taking over a home improvement project for your family, or just making a point to read books about great leaders. The goal isn’t to overwhelm yourself by trying to revamp your entire life, but rather to surround yourself with opportunities to grow your skills. So plan a few outings for your softball team and read the new Elon Musk book… those baby steps will help!

** Yes, these tips have been very similar for the last three posts. That is not because I am lazy, it is because I believe in this process. Improvements can not and should not occur in a vacuum, so it is critical to observe your organization and your own professional situation before deciding how to proceed.  Trying to change everything at once is almost always overwhelming and rarely a good idea, so tiny weekly changes are both manageable and should be incrementally measurable.  And finally, research is showing that it is very difficult to be one person at work and a different person at home.  Using hobbies or things you already do at home to support your professional goals can only be a good thing in the long run.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this four part series! Please leave your comments below or tweet me @RachelLColello.

You Do You: Perform at a High Level [Part 3 of 4]

perform at a higher level, productivity

Some organizations value productivity above all else. That mindset can be brutal, or it can be energizing and a source of satisfaction. The good news is that you control at least part of that equation.

How to know if your organization values productivity:

  • Your productivity is tracked on a regular basis through performance reviews, weekly check-ins, or public status updates that compare your output to others
  • You are rewarded for it! What is your bonus based on? Do you have Key Progress Indicators (i.e. KPIs) based on the amount of work you produce each year?
  • Your coworkers regularly put their ear buds in and FOCUS on their work

Three tips for improving your individual productivity:

  1. Never guess what your boss wants to see – It is a common misconception that being more productive is about “doing more”… it is not. Being more productive is specifically about accomplishing more of the work that matters. This is where the 80/20 rule can be applied (read more here). At your next status meeting, get very very clear on your top priorities. Those are your focus. Too many priorities? Then you need to get equally clear about what is less important. If you feel a little awkward about that part of the conversation, try saying something like, “So if my goal is to get X to you by the end of the week, I will make X my top priority, and Y and Z will move down on my to-do list. Do you agree?”
  2. Pick someone to emulate – In most offices, there is a superstar producer. He or she is known for being able to crank out great work, on time, and on budget. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have super powers… it just means that they know how to make the office environment work for them so that they can accomplish more. Identify who that person is and start observing them. Have they figured out that they need to give the creative team a quick email before they show up with a new project? Are they paying extra special attention to the less experienced developers to head off issues before they become problems? Are they blocking out several hours every morning for focused work? Make yourself a list and try to add one or two new best practices to your life each week. After a few months, your performance improvement should be both manageable and measurable. NOTE: A workaholic who puts in 70+hrs a week, has no social life, and is generally miserable to be around is not a superstar producer. Please remember that you want to pick up positive habits and avoid breeding burnout.
  3. Balance outside of work – Cultivating a “productive mindset” can benefit you across the board. You don’t need to do MORE housework, you need to do the RIGHT housework. Streamline, cut out the extraneous work, and focus on your top priorities. Ideally, you will get more done, while also having more time to recharge. And as we discussed in the last post, we know that our home life affects our work life. There are so many great books on this topic to give you ideas.

Working at an organization that values individual productivity above all else can be overwhelming, but if you can identify that and make small improvements to your own work habits, you can be more successful and gain more satisfaction from your work. Just remember to put your energy where it counts (hint: that is probably not organizing your email inbox). No one can do this for you… you have to do you.

Does improving your productivity help you to feel more engaged at work? Share your thoughts!