Once you get past the image of the six-pack abs and short leather skirts, there’s a lot more that sparks the mind.
Faith, Conviction, Dedication, Passion, Hard-work, Perseverance – these are just a few of the characteristics we revere about the legends of ancient Greece. Of course, nobody else did good leadership and smart strategy quite like the Spartans.
When you think about it, as advocacy marketers, there’s quite a bit we can learn from them.
For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to stick with Hollywood version of Leonidas and his army of 300. No, not because I prefer the overly romanticized version. It’s just easier to relate.
A well thought out employee advocacy program has the potential to make the whole company a brand marketing army. One that is proud to stand behind their management and enhance brand reputation whenever needed. It trains employees to know that fighting for their brand is in their own best interests, and more importantly, it can only be achieved through teamwork.
Employee advocacy also brings the focus back to the human face of the company; i.e. the workforce. To the outside world, your employees are the ones who know you better than anyone else. And you can be sure that their word is trusted more than any advertising dollars you spend.
With the proper guidance and training, your employees can grow into thoughtful tacticians and strategists in their own right.
1. Build a loyal following
Although they were terribly outnumbered, the 300 remained loyal to Leonidas. Because they believed in his vision for a free Sparta.
Likewise, employees need to know that they are essential to the overall vision and mission for a company, and should feel as passionately about it as you do.
Engaged employees are an essential part of any organization. According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by a staggering 147%!
Effective communication, Listening and Leading by example go a long way in creating true believers, and not just puppet advocates.
2. Choose your 300 wisely
As much as the hunchback was willing to fight, Leonidas just couldn’t use him in hard fought battle. Similarly, the Arcadian army was far larger, but their numbers didn’t mean much compared to the warrior-bred Spartan army.
When crafting an employee advocacy strategy, management needs to choose a pioneer band of social savvy employees; those who can make a significant impression (pun intended) on social media. These leaders also set the paving stones for those to follow.
Starting out with a smaller, more skilled group will also give strategists a preview of what’s to come – what’s working and what’s not.
3. Know what you are doing
It all comes down to strategy.
Leonidas knew that the mighty Persian army could not get past the narrow pass, and built his entire battle strategy on that fact. Likewise, it is crucial for the game makers and planners to know their industry’s terrain.
Focus on quality content that appeals to your intended audience, and above all, be authentic and unique. Don’t go down a path just because someone else has. What works for the one industry might not work for another. Preparation is
Preparation is everything and makes for perfect execution.
4. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst
The 300 knew that their mission was probably suicidal, but not futile. So, they put on their big boy pants (figuratively speaking, of course) and gave it a go. Little did they know that they would go on to inspire all of Greece.
So, you never know until you try. Most companies are reluctant to take the first steps towards adopting an employee advocacy strategy, simply because of the fear of failing.
Failures make for good lessons.
Employee advocacy is still in its nascence, and it takes time to settle on a winning strategy. But good things come to those who wait. Give it time, and you’ll be surprised at the online reach your employees bring your brand (upwards of 560%, not bad eh?)
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