Brand First is Backwards: How GoDaddy Approaches Employee Advocacy

Brand First is Backwards: GoDaddy’s Approach to Employee Advocacy

“It wasn’t cool.” That’s what Isaac Irvine, Social and Community Manager at GoDaddy, determined when he took a hard look at the company’s employee advocacy program.

A huge fan of GoDaddy since joining the company, Isaac had usually shared much of the company content sent his way. But one day, as he scrolled through the Facebook photos on his personal page, he noticed stock images mixed in from the company posts he had shared. It bothered him that the images weren’t authentic portrayals of his life and interests.

He knew something had to change. It became his job to fix the program and make it fun.

Isaac shared insights into GoDaddy’s approach to employee advocacy during the 2017 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (#MDMC17). GoDaddy has tried out several employee advocacy software programs to varying degrees of success, he said. He’s found the best approach is putting people first.

He stressed that:

Employee advocacy is not about software.

If you look at employee advocacy from a software standpoint, you will be “on life support,” and you won’t see any shares or engagement from your team.

“If you do not engage and boost and work with employees, none of it will work,” he said. “If you’re only pushing branded content, you will fall flat.”

He suggested following the 80/20 rule when asking employees to share. Eighty percent should be about them, not the brand.

“If you’re thinking brand first, you’re thinking backwards.” 

To help transform GoDaddy’s employee advocacy program, Isaac first identified three groups of employees to target, so he could get a better understanding of where his colleagues were at:

Group 1: Social Natives

They have an active social brand already. They share and engage with followers. They are already social rock stars and will be receptive to sharing content.

Group 2: Detractors

They don’t care about your brand and don’t want to share your content.

Group 3: Up and Comers

They want to be social, but they don’t know how – yet.

Isaac especially wanted to know what the Up and Comers were interested in, so he could help groom them as social-media standouts. He told them about Klout and gave them incentives for getting to a certain score. Once they did, they would be elevated to more of a Social Natives status.

Six employee-first approaches to brand advocacy:

1. Get them active. Show them how to find people on Twitter, how to use hashtags, and how to start engaging.

2. Gain followers. If an Up and Comer gets active, they can do amazing things. Isaac introduces them to Social Natives and shares Twitter lists of influencers to follow.

3. Increase influence. Encourage knowledge sharing on personal blogs to further establish employees as thought leaders.

4. Become a thought leader. Help employees build their own personal brand. Help them get speaking gigs, and teach them how to speak. Support their personal and professional advancement.

5. Efficient content curation. Ask colleagues to curate content for their groups. They will know their audience the best. The content will be more authentic, and they will be more likely to share it.

6. Increase brand awareness. The best way is to elevate your people. If a customer has a bad experience with your brand but then sees the passion of the people behind it, it can help to ease the negative perception.

Above all, Isaac said, keep in mind:

“It’s all about the employee. Brand first is, ‘what will they do for me?’ If you flip it, it’s, ‘what can I do to elevate them?’”


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