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 become a part of employees’ daily routines? What if there was a way for you to use this downtime to inform others and increase brand awareness?
Welcome employee social advocacy! By tapping into a daily habit that already exists, you can create social advocacy and amplify your marketing efforts.
According to a 2016 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 company content on social.
Collect and share testimonials from sales representatives who have seen an increase in revenue by sharing curated content. Who has had success at positioning themselves as thought leaders within the marketplace? Identify a new employee who learned about the position through a social post. If these use cases aren’t applicable, try surveying engaged employees to learn what they think is most valuable.
Additionally, you need to demystify the idea using social media at work negatively impacts productivity. Believe it or not, four in five people believe that.
Sure, there’s always going to be the 10 percent of surveyed employees who spend over two hours on social. However, a vast majority spend less than an hour scrolling through their feeds.
You may want your employees to hit the ground running sharing your awesome content, but that may not happen right away. What’s most important initially is that your employees are reading the information you’re posting. You want them to experience a more transparent and forthcoming workplace.
Identifying and Educating Existing Internal Advocates
Do a quick search on Instagram of your office location and a Twitter query of your branded hashtag. These employees are your initial allies and should be the first group of stakeholders you bring into your employee advocacy 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 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.
Gear identified these brand advocates by searching social and approaching directors in sales and marketing. She asked them who who from their teams would be a good fit. 54 percent of those surveyed responded that they don’t have a lot of guidance on how to use social media to advocate for their company. To address this, 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.
So, first identify and then educate existing internal advocates to help you implement a more effective employee advocacy program. Leverage this highly engaged focus group for feedback. 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.
Along with internal education on 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, try this:
- Accompany each post with suggested social messaging per each popular network.
- Include a note with each piece of content that tells 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.
- 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. Employee engagement, just like social media, should be a two-way dialogue.
Quantifying Employee Advocacy Success
Strategizing and implementing an employee advocacy program takes time and resources. Be sure that you’ll be able to measure the impact of 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.
Some of the same social metrics you apply to your marketing efforts can be applied to your advocacy initiatives.
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.
Cheers to Your Advocacy Leaders!
As your program gains momentum, your employees will see that advocating on social media isn’t as confusing or hard as they may think. Be sure to start out with a proper framework and approach. Getting your employees to incorporate advocacy into their daily routines can be a seamless and mutually beneficial process.
This post was originally written by Andrew Caravella and updated by Michelle Saunders in 2021.