10 steps to becoming successful with Employee Advocacy
Involving employees in the distribution of brand content through their own social channels represents a great opportunity for marketers. But why is this new phenomenon so beneficial and how can you get started with it?
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A trustworthy and authentic communication channel
According to the global study conducted by Edelman, trust in institutions and brands is in decline. Inhere lies an opportunity for marketers, as trust in employees is increasing. In fact, as a representative of the company, the employee achieves a confidence score of 75%, while the closest competitor, the CEO, only accomplishes 37% trustworthiness.
Other than creating an authentic voice of the company, Employee Advocacy will help you generate greater organic reach on social media. MSLGroup suggests that brand messages, that are shared by the employees, get an average 561% higher reach than the company's social channels. You can do the math: If you share a post via your company account that has 2.000 followers, the reach is nothing compared to 20 employees sharing the post if they have an average of 500 people in their networks (I.e. a potential organic reach of 10.000).
So no doubt about the potential, but how exactly do we work with it in our organization? Here are my 10 steps to integrate an Employee Advocacy strategy to your marketing efforts.
1. Involve top management
Perhaps most important of all, is to get the management team in on the idea. Arm yourself with the right arguments: That an Employee Advocacy program is a low-cost, long-term solution that creates high ROI through the organic reach on social media. Internally, it has great value too, as the added engagement from employees generally means more commitment to the overall company mission. Additionally, management should be involved in leading the way as social ambassadors. A great example of this is Grundfos' CEO, Mads Nipper, who frequently engages with employees on LinkedIn. This is the sort of tactic that will create motivation amongst employees, and if leaders show the way, the rest will not be far behind.
2. Set clear goals
Employee Advocacy can do several different things for your brand. It can help create brand awareness, empower your employer branding or generate new leads for your sales department. So before you begin with Employee Advocacy, make sure to define what it should accomplish. Here are just a few goals and KPIs to consider:
Increase brand awareness on social media: Reach, engagement and social actions (likes, comments, and shares)
Lead generation: Email sign-ups to contact formula or new meetings created
Better recruitment: Increased number of applications from qualified candidates
More traffic to the website: Number of website visitors in the period of the Advocacy program
3. Break down the silos
As suggested, Employee Advocacy can bring results to different parts of the organization. Therefore, you should make sure to involve the right participants accordingly. A cross-functional set-up might be that the Communication Department has the overall responsibility to activate and communicate about the effort internally, while the Marketing Department produces and approves the content that is to be shared externally and HR brings in employee profile definitions and recruitment content.
4. Use the right social media
Different media for different purposes. Studies suggest that the best medium for B2B is by far LinkedIn. It is the world's largest professional medium with 530 Mio. users (2,4 Mio. in Denmark). So if you want to nurture your relations and find qualified job candidates, LinkedIn is the better option. Other, not so professional mediums, include Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Although these are seen as more private, you could explore their possibilities if you are dealing with a younger audience and a more visual product.
5. Get insights about how you currently use social media
Being successful with Employee Advocacy very much comes down to your company culture. People use social media differently - some view it as a private space, being a neutral observer, while others see it as an opportunity to explore the professional field, frequently engaging with others and setting the agenda. To get a better view as to where you are, you could do a questionnaire on how the employees are currently using social media - just remember to make it anonymous, as it will give you more honest answers.
6. Educate people in the use of social media
In continuation of these insights, you should make sure to educate employees in good social media behavior to accommodate potential uncertainty in using it. The better your employees are at navigating LinkedIn, the more you will get out of an advocacy initiative. A workshop could discuss the definition of the good LinkedIn-profile, tips, and tricks to find new leads or how to build up personal relations via social selling. Invest in ongoing education and share knowledge between members of the team to keep the motivation going in the long-run.
7. Prioritize the first movers
As Employee Advocacy is stepping into the territory of people's private profiles, make sure to communicate clearly that it is optional. Taking part in an advocacy initiative should be offered to everyone, but let's face it: We don't adopt new things at the same pace. Therefore, you should focus your efforts on the employees that are already doing great things on LinkedIn - sharing, commenting, liking - as the transaction will be easier. Their role as ambassadors should be to spike the interest of the program and share ideas as well as spare with other people. Middle leaders, sales, or service functions might be a good place to start.
8. Create the right guidelines
Although you want to motivate a proactive behavior on LinkedIn, you need to establish some ground rules. For instance, some companies are heavily bound by legal conditions, which means that everything cannot be communicated externally. So how do you want to be perceived as a brand on social media? And what are the most important Do's and Don'ts? Create a short guideline that explains how to share company stories, how employees can create their own stories, and what to do in case of a shitstorm. Don't try to control the employees' communication, but set some positive guidelines about what they can or should do, rather than all the things they cannot do.
9. Produce plenty of content
An advocacy initiative will be hard to accomplish if there isn't any content to share, so make sure to create a content calendar with videos, infographics, reports, job posts, articles, endorsements, cases, etc. for people to share. You can supplement the content going out on the company’s social channels with an internal content hub, where people can get access to CVI-approved content that they can freely share. During a busy workday, experience tells us, that people cannot always find the time to produce their own content - especially if they do not have a background within sales, marketing, or communication. Meet this challenge by giving employees concrete links, images, and suggestions about what they can write when sharing a post. Additionally, it is wise to involve other people in the content creation. Establish an editorial team with different profiles to get input on what your company holds of stories.
10. Measure the outcome and share success stories
As with any other advice on social media content, make sure to test different content pieces to see what performs the best. As for generating leads, this blog post gives you 3 strategies for your content marketing. Measurement shouldn't necessarily be what each employee has achieved - just an indication of what is expected before it can be deemed a success. Besides pinpointing places for improvement, measuring your efforts and sharing success stories, will help motivate people in reaching your goals.