Employee advocacy is the new influencer marketing. By activating your employees to be passionate about their work and your company, you can grow them into your most dedicated and authentic brand ambassadors, which boosts your brand reputation and attracts new talent.
Employee advocacy on social media is essentially the promotion of your brand, products, services, or even better your expertise, by your employees on their own social media channels, as well as your official brand accounts.
While an employee advocacy program may be implemented across several different channels, social media is usually the easiest to get started with, and often the most effective too.
This is because the majority of your employees probably already have their own social media accounts and followers. A study by LinkedIn found that employees of a company have, on average, ten times the followers of the official brand account. By tapping into their following you can widen your audience. If they’re already posting content related to your industry on their channels, a good proportion of this audience is likely to be your target market too.
So how do you get started with an employee advocacy program on social media?
- Build a strong base of employee engagement before you start planning an employee advocacy program.
- Look for employee influencers to pilot your program and make suggestions on how it can be improved.
- Don’t forget to set goals and measure success – employee advocacy should be a critical part of your overall marketing strategy and treated like any other channel.
Invest in Employee Engagement and Strive for a Positive Workplace Culture
First things first. If your employees aren’t already actively engaged in their work and proud to be working for your brand, they aren’t going to be eager to post about it on social media.
Before you dive into the practicalities of running an employee advocacy program, it’s vital to get back to basics and make sure your employees are positively thrilled to be working for you.
Sending out an anonymous employee engagement survey can be a good way to get the lay of the land first (you can easily set up an anonymous survey in Google Forms or SurveyMonkey).
Ask a variety of questions to judge your current level of engagement. This might include rating current management supportiveness and effectiveness, autonomy and flexibility at work, and how well each employee feels they align with the values and mission of the brand.
The reason I wrote Mean People Suck is because you cannot scale your content marketing or activate your employees to share if they hate their boss, or their company. It’s a culture and a leadership problem
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Report shows that 67% of employees expect their employer to have a greater impact and their job to have a meaningful purpose, and almost three-quarters expect to be involved in key decisions and be part of an inclusive working culture.
The results of your survey should give you an idea of how much work you have to do before you can be sure your employees are truly onboard.
You can also directly ask for general feedback on how to improve the employee experience and workplace culture as a whole.
If your current level of employee engagement isn’t where you’d like it to be, don’t dive into an employee advocacy program just yet. Instead, take some time to improve workplace culture and make sure all your employees know and understand your brand mission statement.
Identify Employee Influencers
Once you’ve built a culture of trust and respect, you can start reaching out to employees to let them know about your advocacy program.
These first employees should be the most enthusiastic and engaged employees in your workforce. They should also be active on social media, preferably posting business-related content on their accounts already.
While you can simply ask and encourage employees to post on social media, your program will be more effective if you offer some kind of incentive or benefits.
For example, running an internal competition to gamify the process, offering gift cards or another reward for the most active advocates, or simply giving them a shout-out or recognizing them in your next team meeting can all be effective incentives.
Create Social Media Guidelines
One of the main reasons why some employees choose not to share anything about their work on their personal social media channels is because they’re unsure if they’re allowed to mention the company they work for at all, or they’re afraid of going against company guidelines.
This is an understandable concern. After all, posts on social media can and have led to employees being terminated from certain organizations in the past.
Creating and publicizing internal social media guidelines not only shows employees that you’re happy for them to post about their work on their social media accounts, but it also gives them a clear framework of what exactly they can post about.
For example, Adidas’ social media policy states that employees must identify their role at the company and make it clear that any opinions are personal and not that of the brand. It also points out that while general discussion of work is fine, revealing confidential information or being negative toward your employer, co-workers, or customers is a no-go.
Make It Easy and Fun to Share Content
If it takes too much effort for your employees to post brand content on social media, you’ll probably find that they won’t bother – they aren’t being paid for it after all!
Make it easy for them to share content by highlighting interesting news stories or brand content in internal communications, and always provide “click to share” icons or links when you share content internally.
IBM created an entire employee portal to enable employees to share company content on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook easily, an initiative which was successful in recruiting 1,000 employees to their advocacy program.
You should also make sure you’re creating content that’s actually share-worthy. Nobody wants to bore their social media followers with dull content, so make the effort to come up with genuinely interesting and useful content or something fun to share.
Encourage your employees to use their own creativity when it comes to sharing too.
Set Goals for Your Employee Advocacy Program
Just as it’s critical to set clear and measurable goals when you’re developing your marketing strategy, you should also define clear goals for your employee advocacy program.
This will make it easier to measure the success of your program. It will also give you a clearer path of how to go forward.
For example, you could set the goal of having X employees posting brand content on social media at least once a month by a certain date, or you could aim to increase your overall referral traffic from social media or your number of social shares in a set period of time.
By tracking and measuring your brand social activity regularly, you should have a clear idea of who your top advocates are, the type of content that is most successful on social media, and how increased visibility and engagement are impacting your overall marketing goals.
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