Employee advocacy has been adopted by many B2B companies, that leverage it to reach new audiences on social media, humanize their brand voice, and build a relationship with their customers and buyers. Financial services are no exception, finding themselves in need of new marketing strategies after the 2008 financial crisis. In our webinar about employee advocacy for financial services, we discussed how to best launch an employee advocacy program and how to ensure its success.
Step 1: Establish Program Goals and KPIs
Defining what you want to achieve with advocacy will allow you to identify your tactics and measure your success. Once your objectives are clear to you, you will need to align them with the right measurement metrics.
Here are a few examples of common goals and their correlating KPIs:
- If growing brand awareness and engagement on social media is your goal, then social reach, impressions, and clicks are the factors you need to be measuring.
- If it’s more qualified leads you’re after, then conversions and MQLs are your go-to metrics.
- With sales increase as your goal, you need to be looking at SQLs and new business
- A common goal for marketers is recruitment. In this case, a career search rate and applications are your measurement metrics.
Step 2: Define Your Content Strategy
Your content strategy will guide the types of content you will make available for employees to share. First and foremost, it needs to be aligned with your corporate content strategy, so employees can truly serve as your brand ambassadors on social media.
However, aligning it with corporate content strategy isn’t enough. The content you offer advocates needs to match their preferences. Offering content that employees wouldn’t share would mean a failure for your advocacy program.
If you provide them with articles that they would find compelling enough to share with their network, that would not only guarantee a high employee participation rate, but also the engagement of social media audiences with this content.
According to Andrew Davies, who co-hosted the webinar with me, an effective approach to content strategy is the Three E’s. This means that your content has to either Entertain, Enlighten, or Educate, and if possible- all three. Ask yourself: “Would you engage with this content?” If the answer is no, then there’s no reason why your employees would.
Another best practice is segmenting content by topics. An HR manager and a web developer have different social followings and might want to share content on different topics. By segmenting your content by topics, you will make it easier for them to discover the content that’s most compelling for them and their networks.
Step 3: Choose Your Initial Advocates
The success of your employee advocacy program will depend largely on the engagement of your employees. This is why it’s important to carefully pick the employees who will spearhead the program – and determine its success.
To ensure maximal participation and engagement, start with the social enthusiasts, the employees who already have an active presence on social media. Most chances are, these employees are already sharing your content, and the advocacy program will give them a boost and make it easier for them to share.
Usually, social enthusiasts would be employees in customer-facing roles: marketing, sales, customer success and support. They probably have a well-developed social network and feel comfortable delivering the company message.
The C-level executives are also a key group to onboard to advocacy. Leading By Example is the concept you want to tap into by engaging the senior management. Once they start sharing content on social media, other employees will follow them by adopting advocacy as well.
Step 4: Demonstrate the Value to Employees
Let’s put it on the table: employees are your most valuable partner when it comes to advocacy. Without their buy-in, your advocacy program will simply fail. To ensure their support and participation, emphasize the benefits of advocacy for them. Advocacy has the potential to turn employees into thought leaders, expanding their professional networks. Eventually, the accumulative effect of advocacy means significant career growth for employees.
In fact, almost 86% of employee advocates cite the increased social presence as having a positive impact on their career. Emphasizing “what’s in it for them” will ensure that employees are willing to participate and help grow the program.
Step 5: Run a Pilot Program
Once you’ve defined your goals and content strategy and chosen the first group of employees to onboard, it’s time to launch your pilot program. First off, provide employees with social media training and advocacy best practices. The unknown can be daunting, and if you don’t take the time to explain to employees how social media and advocacy work, they might not want to take part in the program.
Secondly, establish compliance policies. Some social media management platforms, such as Oktopost, include a Banned Words feature, using which you can ensure that employees stay away from unwanted messages. In addition, you can use the training sessions to educate employees on several compliance rules, such as safeguarding the password to their profiles, or no sharing of confidential information, etc.
Encourage employees to give feedback on their experience with the program. You can also conduct knowledge sharing sessions where different advocates will reveal which content and posting practices work best for them.
The final step is tracking the performance of your pilot program. This will allow you to gauge the participation rate as well as the engagement with your content on social media. Leveraging those insights, you will be able to optimize your program and tweak it to your company’s needs.
Step 6: Gain Leadership Buy-In
If you’re a marketer, then you must know how hard it can be to get the management to sign off on a new initiative. So once you’ve measured the results of advocacy and proved its ROI, use this data to gain the executives’ buy-in.
You can generate reports that track back to the goals you set when you launched the pilot program and show the management how those goals were reached. Oktopost’s advocacy platform tracks B2B-relevant metrics, such as CTR and conversions, giving program admins granular view into the performance of advocacy.
Launch an Employee Advocacy Program – and Make It Work for You
Getting started with advocacy may seem complicated and difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. By structuring your program and planning ahead, you will be able to launch an employee advocacy program that yields results both for the company and for its employees. Have a look at Oktopost’s employee advocacy platform and get started with advocacy, using these 6 easy steps.