Employee advocates busy strategising things

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What Is Employee Advocacy?

When your employees promote your company, it’s called employee advocacy. Anyone in the company can be the advocate and it’s not necessarily the terrain of just the marketing department staff. Today, most employee advocacy programs include social media promotion, which can help boost your organic outreach significantly, thus increasing your audience growth.

As a business leader, encouraging and supporting employee advocacy programs is crucial for your business as they reduce the distance between your target customers and the brand while facilitating the brand to reach more people with a much more humanised voice.

Seems easy-peasy, right? Not quite!

There are various aspects that you must be aware of. As a leader, it’s essential to learn the most effective methods of putting an employee advocacy program into action if you don’t already have one. Ideally, advocacy programs on your chosen or preferred social media platform should consist of blog posts, articles, links to your company website, short-form videos, infographics, etc., that

  • share relevant information about your company’s offerings
  • promote content that helps your business partners or the target audience
  • give an insider view of the company culture

Why Is Employee Advocacy Important?

Did you know?

  • In 2022, Gartner predicted that 90% of B2B social media marketing strategies will integrate scaled employee advocacy programs by 2023.
  • According to LinkedIn, content shared by employees have a 2X higher CTR (click-through rate) than when the company shares it.
  • According to a joint research study by the Hinge Research Institute, a formal employee advocacy program can decrease the sales cycle, help recruit top-tier talent, and facilitate the development of new revenue streams for your business.

If you are still unsure about how employee advocacy can help, here are the three key areas of your business that can benefit from it:

  • Hire top talent by attracting quality employees to your organisation
  • Boost marketing efforts by reaching and engaging with your target audience authentically
  • Increase sales by turning your in-house people into social sellers

If you are ready to plan and implement an employee advocacy program as a business leader,h are the eight key steps to start running one.  

8 Key Steps to Run an Employee Advocacy Program

1.      Define Your Goals, KPIs, and Metrics

It’s vital to define your advocacy program’s objectives. Whether you want to increase your brand awareness and outreach, attract new customers, entice the top talent to work for you, boost employee morale, or do all of these, it pays to have clarity.

After the goals have been set, you should focus on tracking key KPIs and use certain metrics to evaluate your success. Some key KPIs to track could be the top contributors, the organic reach of content shared by your employee advocates, the level of engagement with such content, traffic driven by the content, and the overall impact of such content on your brand sentiment on social media.

2.      Create a Plan of Action

From how you are going to accomplish your goals to the type of content you want to be shared, the process of spotting, recruiting, and training your advocates, and measuring the progress, everything should be outlined in a detailed action plan.

Your action plan should also outline an effective strategy where it’s mentioned what structure your employee advocacy program will follow and the actionable ideas that could make the program better. It’s wise to have a contingency plan as well that can serve as your backup in case your key plans don’t bring you the desired results.

3.      Recruit Your Advocates

Though advocates come in various types and forms, the five common ones you should be aware of include the

  • Believers, who love to share updates about their work life
  • Social addicts, who love to spend a lot of time on various social media platforms
  • Reluctants, who shy away from interacting with people or posting on social media but can be inspired by rewards and recognition
  • Opportunists, who are ready to pounce on opportunities that could benefit them
  • Optimists, who aren’t afraid of experimenting with innovative ideas and finding the best-fit ones that can benefit your employee advocacy program

You need to identify your advocates and get them involved in your overall strategy and content planning.

4.      Create Valuable and Shareable Resources for Your Employees

You need to build a content library of evergreen topics and FAQs, and regularly update these content resources. You should facilitate access to such content for your employee advocates so that they can find and share what they need easily.

Additionally, you should remember the power of a personal message. Pre-approved content indeed works when it comes to fast shares. Yet, nothing beats the freedom and flexibility of letting your employees create video posts, write their own captions, choose images to go with their posts, etc., as long as they follow and adhere to your brand guidelines.

5.      Offer Targeted Training and Guidance

You will need to decide and prioritise your training topics and offer guidance to your advocates. From platform-specific social media training (for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to content marketing strategy, generating leads via social media, and SEO fundamentals for social media, you need to draw your training plans to meet your desired business goals.

Your training and guidance should also focus on other vital aspects like brand advocacy strategies, building communities on social media, targeting particular buyer personas, sticking to a publishing routine, and measuring engagement to ensure your employee advocacy program brings the desired results.

6.      Provide Incentives for Active Employee Participation

Tangible incentives like discounted company products or services, gift cards, or prizes can boost employee morale and encourage more to join your employee advocacy program by making them feel like they have a stake in it. You may even turn your social media advocacy into a contest where the employee who’s getting the most impressions or engagement for a specific hashtag to promote a particular campaign gets a reward.

Other ways to encourage active employee participation could include:

  • Early access
  • Development opportunities
  • VIP programs
  • Team/individual challenges
  • Badges

7.      Invest in Proper Communication and Collaboration

A successful employee advocacy program depends significantly on effective communication and collaboration. As a business leader, you should keep your advocates engaged, informed, and inspired throughout the process. You can invest in internal communication channels like the intranet, company newsletters, or chat groups to share feedback, updates, and recognition for the purpose.

You can also create a community or employee advocacy platform where your advocates can network to brainstorm, interact, exchange and share ideas, and support each other. It’s also crucial to support additional ‘space’ for organic advocacy to develop, which can provide a more authentic engagement for both employees and employers.

8.      Monitor and Optimize

This is the final step where you need to monitor your employee advocacy program and optimise it to ensure that it’s meeting the needs and expectations of your target audience and advocates and delivering the desired results.

To collect and analyse data on the reach, performance, and sentiment of your employees’ posts, you can use tools like social media dashboards, focus groups, and surveys. You could even ask your advocates to share feedback, suggestions, and ideas on ways to improve your employee advocacy program while keeping them happy and loyal.

Final Words

A well-planned and properly implemented employee advocacy program has great potential. Since it’s basic human nature to trust a face more than a company logo, seeing a social message from your employees and noticing their names and pictures on their profile makes the interaction more authentic, real, human, and appealing.

If you don’t have an employee advocacy program in your company, it’s time to start one right away!

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