What is Employee Advocacy? System Social's Founder Explains

Image: System Social

You’re a savvy operator—you know social media is of vital importance to your marketing strategy. Social provides multiple platforms for you to engage with guests, motivate fans to spread the word about your business, and keep them coming through your doors to spend money.

But you’re also a realist—it’s a challenge to get employees to post about your business on social. Even though doing so would mean more guests for them to serve and therefore more money in their pockets, they stubbornly refuse to post about their workplace. It’s a silly problem to have when you think about it.

Nightlife veteran Andy Hersch also thinks it’s a ridiculous problem. In fact, it bothers him so much that he created a solution, a tool you can use to overcome this nonsensical problem. Hersch’s solution? An employee advocacy app called System Social.

Hersch has worked at some of the hottest nightlife venues for a number of industry-leading groups. In New York City he was a managing partner at True Nightclub and Lava Lounge. Across the country in Las Vegas he was general manager of Light Nightclub inside the Bellagio, director of the music hall at House of Blues, and senior director of nightlife/daylife at the Hard Rock Hotel, directly overseeing operations at legendary hot spot REHAB, Wasted Space and Body English.

One of the challenges he encountered regardless of where he worked was motivating employees to spread brand messaging through their social media channels. It wasn’t impossible but just a tiny fraction of employees posted about where they worked.

Now that the hospitality industry has resolutely chosen social media as the preferred advertising and marketing method, you need employees to engage via social in a way consistent with your brand’s message. System Social is a tool that solves this problem intelligently: it makes promoting your business easy for your employees.

Read on to learn more about this solution and employee advocacy. Cheers!

Where did you start your career in the hospitality industry?

I started as a promoter in NYC during high school.  Then, like so many Vegas operators, I had the privilege of working for John Lyons in Boston during College.

How was System Social born?

System Social is something that was built by operators for operators. It was built out of long-time experience that [started with the question] “Wouldn’t it be great if…” I sat down and thought of how many emails, pre-shift announcements and other methods were used to get the message to my staff. Once you get your staff to buy in on a new tool they become appreciative to use it.

What does “employee advocacy” mean and why should it matter to operators?

The term “employee advocacy” is unfamiliar to many hospitality operators. It simply means the promotion of a company by its employees. Providing your workers with quality content to share via their social media accounts improves their credibility and increases your brand awareness. As the voice of your brand, employees feel invested in the business and passionate about being integral to its success.

When did you first start noticing it was a challenge to get employees to share social media challenges?

Reflecting on my almost 30 years in the hospitality industry, I remained baffled by one thing: Why was it so difficult to get employees to share the company message via social media? It seemed simple enough to me! If you were a bartender, for example, wouldn’t you do everything you could to get the most people in front of your bar?

The reality was that only a minority of my staff would engage. Some didn’t want to make the effort, some lacked interest, and some found the process too cumbersome. It’s easier to ask your team to save, cut, paste, share and like material if they sit in front of a computer all day. But even these employees do not pass along social media content as much as you might expect.

Employees who don’t work at a desk, such as bartenders, servers, front desk clerks and salespeople on the road, rely on their mobile devices to accomplish nearly every task in their daily lives. These individuals inspired me to create System Social, a platform for both in-office and out-of-office employees to share their employers’ social media posts using their cell phones.

I knew that if the platform was modern, tech savvy and simple, employees would use it—and the results would speak for themselves. Indeed, with System Social, employee advocacy has never been easier. Now, your team members can spread the word to all their contacts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with just a few clicks on their phones!

When we opened Body English we were just moving into the world of Facebook. This was when the push for staff participation became an issue. As print media started declining, Vegas was left with billboards and social media.

How does System Social solve the problem of employees not sharing brand- or company-specific social media messages?

Simply put: We make it easy! Employees can now post to their own pages or like, brand, comment on brand posts right from the app. Gone are the days of sending emails for employees to cut and paste.

An interesting and innovative element of System Social is gamification. Explain to our readers what it is, how it works, and how it benefits operators.

So, back in the early years we would pay an intern or junior host to do what we called “social media edits.” We would pay for the time to have someone go through each employee’s Facebook to see if they posted the event. We would then reward or punish based on the amount of “buy-in” a team member would contribute.

Years later, the staff got smart and began going to unions and labor boards to complain they were being required to do work outside of paid hours. So, in conceptualizing System Social, I felt a reward-based platform might not only incentivize a staff but also allow for easy tracking by venue operators.

What does System Social cost to use?

System Social is a monthly subscription service that begins at $199. Prices are based on how many users each venue will have, and discounts are applied for multi-unit operators.

What are your top tips for boosting social media engagement and followers?

Based on our usage, we have seen there is a fine line between not only the amount of content but also the content itself. Quick Videos are always best but sometimes lack the final message. Based on the new changes Facebook has made with its algorithms, we find the advocate post being so much more influential than the brand post.

Are there any social media trends or developments operators and System Social users should be aware of for the rest of 2018 and heading into 2019?

I think the social media networks will struggle to find the new norm for them in the age of privacy and GDPR. I also think you will see many ways that new companies will strive to utilize the individual to reduce paid reach costs.