Employee Advocacy 101

by Katie Hayward
November 22, 2016

You may have heard the term employee advocacy grace the lips of social media experts in the past several years. That’s because it is a social media strategy that has yielded great results for companies both large and small.

Read on for the what, why, who and how of employee advocacy and for some guidance on getting started.

The What

Employee Advocacy

Simply, employee advocacy is the promotion of a company or organization by its staff members.

For example, I work for Paulsen. Whenever Paulsen posts something interesting to their Facebook page, I share it with my personal network of friends, family and other industry professionals. Sometimes people in my network find it interesting too, and they share it with their personal networks, etc., etc.

This concept applies to any social media platform where people may engage with a post by liking, sharing or commenting. These include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Employee advocacy is a phenomenal catalyst for getting your original content to be shared organically through social media, and it all starts by simply asking your employees to engage with your brand.

A common first reaction to this strategy is concern about that request. Some employers initially feel uncomfortable asking their employees to share content on their personal social media. After all, business is business, and Facebook is sacred.

Rest assured, more of your employees are eager to help promote your brand than you may think. Again and again, our industry sees this strategy working. And, of course, this program is always voluntary—no employee should ever feel pressured into participating.

The Why

Before embarking on any new social media strategy, you should have good reason. The biggest reason to launch an employee advocacy program in your office is straightforward: it really works.

Google “employee advocacy statistics” and you will find a long list of rationale. Here are just a handful of stats that outline why employee advocacy works and a few good reasons to give it a try:

Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7X more frequently than other leads. (Source: IBM)

Content shared by employees receives 8X more engagement than content shared by brand channels. (Source: Social Media Today)

Employees have on average 10X more social connections than a brand does. (Source: Social Chorus)

Only 33 percent of buyers trust the brand while 90 percent of customers trust product or service recommendations from people they know. (Source: Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey)

Brand messages are re-shared 24X more frequently when distributed by employees vs. brand. (Source: MSL Group)

98 percent of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50 percent are already posting about their company. (Source: Weber Shandwick)

If those stats aren’t enough, consider these personal examples from Paulsen.

EXAMPLE 1—Without Employee Advocacy

EXAMPLE 1—Without Employee Advocacy

In this example, Paulsen did not promote the post internally (not on purpose, it simply got lost in the list that day), but as you can see, no one shared this post—so there was no employee advocacy here.

Paulsen did receive 20 likes on the post, 470 people were reached and that’s all good. As an agency that posts frequently to Facebook, we generally would call this a win.

There were about 37 post clicks and when we checked the backend of our website, we could tell that several of those visited the link and subsequent pages on our site.

All great news.

Now, let’s look at what happens when Paulsen promotes employee advocacy on a post:

EXAMPLE 2—With Employee Advocacy

EXAMPLE 2—With Employee Advocacy

In this example, Paulsen employees shared this post.

Anshu himself shared it, and it was shared two more times from our original post. Then, two more times from a shared post.

While Paulsen only received 18 likes directly on our page for the post, the five shared-posts received 430 likes combined.

Paulsen didn’t receive any comments directly on our page for the post, however, 19 people commented on the shared posts.

According to Facebook, 649 people interacted with the post by clicking on it and, according to the backend of our website, 160 people clicked through to our website as a result of this post.

With more than 2,900 people reached, this is what we call a big win, and it cost Paulsen nothing.

Of course, you could make the case that Anshu might be more popular than Juan, but if you met either of them, you would have a hard time picking a favorite—they are both extremely likable with similar social networks.

We truly do attribute employee advocacy efforts to the difference in performance between these two posts.

The Who

There are currently a few platforms available that help make employee advocacy super easy such as GaggleAMP, Bambu, Dynamic Signal and more.

They allow companies to create content on the platform and for your employees to simply connect their social media accounts and hit “share” or “like,” etc., directly from the site. These services allow you to gamify and incentivize your employees and dealers and provide a lot of amazing analytics.

The problem with these platforms is their cost and scale. Some of the smallest packages offered start at 250 employees and can cost well over $20k a year. While partnering with an agency, like Paulsen, can make these platforms more economical, they often aren’t practical for small businesses with fewer than 30 employees.

The good news is implementing a successful employee advocacy program doesn’t have to be expensive.

The How

To make employee advocacy work within your company, you have to follow one core concept behind the strategy: you have to make it easy. If it’s not easy, employees won’t participate.

Promoting employee advocacy manually is your alternative to a potentially costly platform.

While it’s not quite as simple, creating an email template and sending out a daily or weekly email to your employees can be just as effective. It brings the posts you would like shared and the type of interactions you are looking to encourage directly to your employee inboxes and is generally more effective than simply making a verbal announcement and asking people to engage.

Your email template should be clean, consistent and straightforward. You can ask your employees to share or retweet a link, comment on a specific post, like something and more. Provide them with messaging recommendations and ask them to create their own posts, or provide them with pre-approved auto-filled posts.

Getting Help

While you may not be ready to invest in a costly platform just yet, there are plenty of ways to seek professional advice on employee advocacy.

Things to think about:

If you are interested in getting an employee advocacy program started within your organization, give Paulsen a call. We offer everything from high-level consultation sessions to fully customized advocacy toolboxes including guidelines, templates and analytics tracking. Give us a call or email hello@paulsen.ag.

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