Employee Advocacy: The Untapped Resource for Success
Something's not quite right. You've just published a great piece of marketing content and shared it via all the appropriate social channels. A few minutes later, you go back to check on it and you're still the only one who has shared it…in a company with 2,000 employees. Sound familiar?
If so, then here's a term you need to get yourself (and your organization) familiar with as soon as possible: employee advocacy. As I'm about to explain, there's a lot of power behind this term, but the basic idea is that your employees are the key to unlocking the true potential of content marketing and social media. Let's take a deeper dive.
What is employee advocacy?
Employee advocacy is when an employee publicly advocates on behalf of the company they work for. Of course, there's a lot more to it than that, and everyone defines it slightly differently. I like to think of employee advocacy in terms content and social media. For example, instead of proclaiming how great the company is to work for (with the hopes of attracting new recruits) they instead proclaim how great their company's content is by sharing it via social media (with the hopes of attracting new followers and leads). More on this in a minute. But for now, let's just agree that employee advocacy is an organization-wide commitment to spreading the word.
Why does employee advocacy matter?
Have you ever heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon? It's the idea that any two people in the world are only six or fewer connections apart from knowing each other. That means you’re less than six connections away from movie stars, famous athletes and politicians. It also means your employees are less than six connections away from scores of new potential customers. See where I'm headed?
By getting your employees to share your content, you unlock the full power of their collective network. And, as anyone who's ever been on social media knows, everyone is usually just one connection away, not six. The more employees you have, the higher the potential to connect your brand with relevant prospects. Without an employee advocacy program that centers on interesting, relevant content, these connections will never be made.
How can I implement employee advocacy?
Now that you know what employee advocacy is (and why it matters) it is important to know how to successfully implement it. While it might seem like an enormous task (and coordinating a cross-organizational effort always is) it can really be boiled down into 4 key steps.
Step #1. Document
The first step is to document the program in a way that serves two audiences: Those who will administer/run the program and those who will contribute to the program. Those running the program will need clear documentation on what the program entails; what the goals are, how success is measured, protocols for posting, tools being used, etc. Those contributing will need a more condensed version (a need-to-know basis) so that they understand the rules. By doing this you accomplish two key objectives. One, you have clearly articulated the purpose of the employee advocacy program for current and future employees. Two, you have a documented model to improve on over time (and there is always room for improvement).
Step #2. Publicize
Once the program has been created, you need to let employees know about it – and not just once, but on a regular basis. For existing employees, this is something that could be shared via an internal company newsletter, or better yet, in their own employee advocacy board that presents them with posts relevant to them. For new employees, I'd suggest making it part of their internal training. The sooner you can get them into the habit of sharing content, the easier it will be to hold them to it in the future.
Once the program is live and successful, it will serve as its own reminder. Employees who are connected with each other via social will see the shares, likes and Tweets from their coworkers and want to do the same. But to start, it's up to you (the marketing team) to get people on board and involved.
Step #3. Measure
Here's where you start to learn. In order to improve the effectiveness of any employee advocacy program, you need a way to accurately measure and track success. That's where a few key Oktopost features come into play. Current Oktopost users will be familiar with the Reports features, but for those non-users, here's a quick overview:
Under reports, administrators can view statistics on your employee Leaderboard that measures the impact each employee has regarding their social media influence – i.e. You can view clicks, shares, conversions and other engagement metrics generated by each member. This makes it easy to identify the top brand ambassadors within a company and track the contribution of employee advocacy to your social media activities.
Step #4. Incentivize
Here's where it gets fun. At some point (probably even earlier on in the program) you're going to realize that certain employees are sharing more actively than others. Likewise, you'll start to notice that certain employees seem to have a deeper reach than others. As a B2B marketer, your goal should be to encourage this type of behavior – and one of the best ways to do that is through an incentive program.
Separate from the Reports section, there is also an Advocacy Leaderboard that allows all team members to view the success of each employee's social effort. By publicly sharing this information, it adds extra incentive and drives employees to excel. For those that do, choose an appropriate reward to motivate them to continue their good work.
Now we get the concept of an incentive program. As you can see, having a B2B marketing platform with the Leaderboard capability is helpful, it's not necessarily a prerequisite for rewarding your employees for their social media advocacy.
Now you understand the best ways to promote employee advocacy, it's important to know what to avoid:
- Having everyone create their own social content – instead, create it for them. This removes a potential roadblock and ensures that they'll actually do it. More importantly, it allows you to control the message they're sending. You want your employees representing your brand in the right way – with the right message.
- Don't make them share lame, blatant promotions – Instead, give them useful thought leadership content to share. While they are representing your brand, they are also representing themselves. They don't want to be known to their connections as the one who shares overly promotional material.
- Lacking a Social Media Policy – Whether you have a formal employee advocacy program or not, your employees are going to be representing you on social media. Set up clear guidelines for how they should conduct themselves online to avoid any bad publicity that could end up attached to you.
Above all, remember this: your employees aren't just a resource for your company, they are your company. They want to be engaged and invested in its success and it's your job to give them a reason to be. By making your employee advocacy program easy and fun, you'll not only reach your audience on a much higher level, you'll also provide a greater experience for your employees.