Your employees each have a morning ritual. Grab a cup of coffee. Scroll through Facebook’s News Feed. Respond to emails. Dial into a conference call. Start the workday.
What if your company could insert itself into this routine? What if there was a way for you to use this downtime to inform your organization and increase brand awareness? By tapping into a daily habit that already exists, you can create advocates and amplify your existing marketing efforts.
According to a recent survey from Bambu by Sprout Social, seven in ten employees are using social media at work. Blocking popular networks and monitoring browsing history isn’t going to stop anyone from checking Facebook—especially when 11 percent of those surveyed admitted to using social media during bathroom breaks.
Instead of trying to fight a habit that’s already ingrained in your workplace culture, embrace it. Encourage your employees to use their time on social to speak on your brand’s behalf. By outlining the individual benefits, identifying existing champions, and educating and empowering employees, you can strategically build a powerful advocacy program.
Answering the Question, ‘What’s in It for Me?’
One of the biggest hurdles in getting people involved in an advocacy program is convincing them that there’s a personal benefit. Before you introduce a formal or informal program, you need to answer the frequently asked question, “What’s in it for me?”
The best way to do this is by not only communicating but also demonstrating the benefits of sharing employer- and industry-adjacent content on social. Collect and share testimonials from sales representatives who have seen an increase in revenue since sharing curated content and positioning themselves as thought leaders within the marketspace. Identify a new employee who learned about the position through social media. If these use cases aren’t applicable, try surveying engaged employees to learn what they think is most valuable.
In addition to communicating employee benefits, you need to demystify the idea that moderate use of social media at work negatively impacts productivity—something four in five people believe. Sure, there’s always going to be the 10 percent of surveyed employees who spend over two hours on social, but the vast majority spend less than an hour scrolling through their feeds.
While providing your employees with content they want to share is the end goal, that might not happen right away, and it certainly isn’t going to happen with everything you distribute. What’s most important, at least initially, is that your employees are reading the information you’re posting and viewing your organization as a more transparent and forthcoming workplace.
Identifying and Educating Existing Internal Advocates
A search of your office location on Instagram and a quick Twitter inquiry of your branded hashtag will reveal at least a handful of employees who are (hopefully) already singing your praises. These employees are your initial allies and should be the first group of stakeholders you bring into your initiatives.
That’s what Katie Gear (Area E-Commerce Marketing Manager for Hyatt hotels in Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati) did when she first launched her advocacy efforts. Gear recently spoke with Sprout Social’s Community Outreach Manager, Sarah Nagel, about how she scaled her program and identified its first participants.
“Harness employees who are already sharing. Create a more meaningful conversation with their employer, and keep the dialogue they’re already participating in more open-ended,” Gear told Nagel. (highlight to tweet)
Gear identified these advocates by searching social and approaching directors in sales and marketing to see who from their teams would be a good fit. Considering 54 percent of those surveyed don’t have ample guidance to use social media to advocate for their company, Gear followed up by hosting informal social media 101 classes for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
“The courses help them understand what I’m doing with the content and what I look for—and what content works best on what channel,” Gear told Nagel.
Following Gear’s strategy—first identifying and then educating existing internal advocates—will help you implement a more effective program down the road. Leverage this highly engaged focus group for feedback, and lean on their insights to help revise your efforts before rolling it out to a larger audience.
Empowering Your Employees
Participants in your program shouldn’t view engaging with company news and relevant content as extra work—otherwise, they won’t opt-in. In fact, 53 percent of employees surveyed don’t think that the marketing team makes it easy for them to advocate for the company on social media. Don’t make engaging with your brand more cumbersome than it needs to be.
In conjunction with internal education on general social media best practices, you need to streamline the sharing process and provide your employees with all the tools they need to be the best advocates possible.
When you’re sharing social content with your team, make sure to do the following:
- Accompany each post with suggested social messaging per each popular network.
- Include a note with each piece of content that addresses why what you’re sharing is important and who the internal stakeholders involved with the initiatives are.
- If you’re citing a third party source, make sure you’re highlighting a reputable publication that is viewed as providing expert information.
- Employee engagement, just like social media, should be a two-way dialogue. Make sure that you’re asking your team members to share content and information that they think would resonate with all of the company’s employees or a departmental audience.
Strategizing and implementing an employee advocacy program takes time and resources, so you want to be sure that you’ll be able to quantify your efforts. Adding UTM codes to the end of each piece of owned content you share with employees will make it easy to track, measure, and benchmark the impact of your advocacy efforts.
Some of the same social metrics you apply to your marketing efforts can be applied to your advocacy initiatives. As you begin to measure success, keep in mind that those surveyed were 16 times more likely to read a social media post from a friend than from a brand. 81 percent of participants went as far as saying they would rather see a friend’s social post than a brand’s post. Keep a close eye on your efforts, and continue to use the data and anecdotal feedback you receive to revise and refresh your program.
As your program gains momentum, your employees will see that advocating for your organization on social isn’t as confusing or hard as they may think. With the proper framework and approach, getting your employees to incorporate advocacy into their daily routines can be a seamless and mutually beneficial process.
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