Advocacy: To Platform or Not to Platform
October 28, 2019 by Lindsey Sanford, Global Employer Brand Manager, Palo Alto Networks
Launching an advocacy platform or program can be a daunting task - and I say these words intentionally: platform and program because part of your first decision for this kind of strategy is the ultimate “to platform or not to platform”. And while your advocacy platform will most certainly be a program, your advocacy program doesn’t have to be in a platform. Kapeesh?
Advocacy programs are low hanging fruit because of the degree of complexity they can or don’t have. Your advocacy program can be as simple as sending an email to your hiring manager for an open role, giving them more proactive content that is more than a job description (maybe a link to a blog, and then a job description?). Or your program can be more complex with segmented content reaching different hiring managers with different hiring personas - hitting your candidates at different times of the hiring cycle (passive, active, candidate v applicant). Regardless of the type, there’s an advocacy program that can fit your organization’s resources, needs, and budget constraints.
We’ll start with the platform debate.
I’ve launched a few advocacy programs within a platform using a few of the regulars: Dynamic Signal, Bambu, LinkedIn Elevate, and X-Cloud. Each platform has it’s unique UX - but are fairly similar in how they execute in intent. I’m not going into the particulars of which platform is best - but rather, what you gain in using a platform.
You gain quite a bit:
- You get a simple system that makes it easier for your hiring managers and general employee population to share content with the click of a button.
- You get metrics. So. many. Metrics. Sometimes, you get too many metrics - and sometimes those metrics are a bit inflated, but you do get them.
- You get branded, consistently high-quality content. You don’t have to worry about those going rogue - instead, you have guaranteed content for those with concerns.
- You get segments and verticals. You can segment your content for your hiring verticals. You can group your content and share with your users, making it easier to get the right content to the right people.
- You get onboarding and training - where you can more easily manage adoption and ability.
Eh, but you lose some things too.
To not platform.
I’ve been on a new kick lately, and it’s a bit of a roguish one. It’s a bit of an anti-establishment kick where grassroots is the new color black. And it’s not that I’m against advocacy platforms - the simplicity, the centralization, the consistency, the measurement - that’s great. But there’s also a barrier to entry that’s hard for a company to get into. So, there are some perks to not going with a platform:
- You save a lot of money. If your organization is new to employer brand and you are scrambling for budget, a platform for your advocacy strategy just isn’t necessary to launch an advocacy platform. If you’re old to employer brand and looking to move budget around, it could be an opportunity to save some budget and invest elsewhere.
- More versatility. This is a tough one because not all organizations can take advantage of this. Some brand or corporate guidelines will require that your advocacy programs have more centralized control over what your employees can and cannot say. But there are so many benefits to providing individuals talking points, instead of copy/paste content.
- You get a fully custom advocate that speaks in their unique voice.
- You don’t have employees sharing 50 messages that are the same, at the same time. With the degrees of separation being 3.7 today, it’s a whole lot easier to find the same message in your small degree window of separation.
- You get more trust. If you aren’t sharing the same content over and over, you’ll have more authenticity in your content.
- You get better stories. I’m not an engineer - and I won’t hae an engineer’s lens on everything. When I push an article - they might read it in a different way.
A lot of this hinges on whether or not your employees will create their own content in the platform or not, and whether or not your organization has granted that level of freedom (or dare I say it, whether or not your organization has acknowledged that reality yet) for your employees to generate their own content.
I’d go so far to argue that even in a platform that allows employees to adjust or edit or create their own content against the suggested copy - most don’t. Most employees will take the easy route (and, hey, that’s a plus to an advocacy platform ...that’s kind of the purpose...the easy way out!) - but lately? Lately, I’ve been seeing this as an opportunity. More on that next time!
After many years organizing communication efforts for local, federal, and international campaigns, Lindsey gave up her constituents for candidates upon entering the recruitment marketing world. For seven years, she worked at Symphony Talent, assisting Fortune 100 companies with their recruitment marketing content marketing strategy, attracting talent to organizations by encouraging the right fit for both the company and the candidate. She now manages a Global Employer Brand Program for Palo Alto Networks, innovating new ways to reach out to candidates, leveraging regional stories, and improved candidate experience, and pushing the boundaries of how we think about the recruitment and candidate process. In her allusive "free time" she can be found picking up new hobbies like Girl Scouts leadership, reading all the books, speaking for her cat, and asking her kids for the 100th time to pick up their toys. Follower her on Twitter @LindseySanford.
For more from Lindsey, join us in San Francisco this January 28-30, 2020 at #SRSC where talent acquisition leaders connect to leverage emerging recruiting practices. This year we are excited to host SRSC at Talent Acquisition Week, along with EBrandCon and the Talent Sourcing Strategies Summit.