Could you be underutilizing one of your greatest social media assets? Employees can play a crucial role in building a brand’s online presence and exposure, which is why more and more companies are turning to employee advocacy programs. These programs turn willing employees into social media ambassadors who share brand related content and posts on their own channels. Here’s why employee advocacy can be so effective and how to get started:
Multiply the people you reach: Consider how many followers your brand has on social media. Unless shared by others, only these followers will be exposed to your brand’s organic posts. Now let’s imagine you have 15 employee advocates sharing content on their own channels. If each employee has 300 followers, your content has the potential to reach an additional 4,500 people. The combined reach of employees can be a dramatic extension to a company’s corporate following.
Increase the influence of your content: 84% of people trust recommendations from individuals they know, while only 15% trust recommendations from brands (The Definitive Guide to Employee Advocacy Programs, 2014). Encouraging employees to share content on their own channels can add a degree of trust and authenticity that might otherwise be lost when posting through a corporate channel.
How to Get Started:
Set guidelines: Although posts are being pushed out on personal social handles, they are still being shared on behalf of the brand, so it is important to set guidelines. Guidelines should give examples of appropriate content to share—encouraging posts rather than limiting them.
Find your champions: When first rolling out your program, it is recommended to stick with a small group of about 10–50 advocates, depending on the size of your company. Not all of your employees are going to be social media gurus and it is important to develop a strong and effective program before extending a company-wide invite.
Create a content plan: Employees are far less likely to push out brand-related posts if they have to dig for content. Whether it’s delivered through email or a platform, companies should be providing 6–10 pieces of content a week for employees to share. Many times it is effective to provide recommended copy to accompany the content. But the copy should always be editable in order to preserve the individual’s own voice.
Consider using a platform: There are tons of platforms out there that make it easy to curate and push out content to employees. To name a few: Addvocate, Social Chorus, Sprinklr and Circulate. it. Some are much more robust than others, but almost all are eager to walk you through a live demo if you indicate interest.
Metrics: As with all things social, it is important to measure success and tie performance to key marketing objectives. Retweets/shares and likes/favorites can be tracked pretty easily. Platforms can add value by pulling metrics such as social connections, lead gen, traffic and top contributors.
Continue training: Your initial group of advocates should be comfortable with social media, but continued training and meetings are important for the success of the program and for expanding advocacy in the future.
Demonstrate appreciation and increase program awareness: Lastly, it is important to commend employees participating. Weekly announcements of advocates with top shares or interactions can help create incentive for others and increase overall program awareness.