Mar 19, 2024

Employee Advocacy Best Practices: Maximize Your Social Media Reach in 7 Steps

If your business isn’t leveraging employee advocacy in its digital marketing efforts, you’re missing out on one of the most effective – and cost-effective – means of supercharging your brand. Social media brand ambassadors bring authenticity to your brand while fostering deep connections with your audience. When your team champions your cause, it feels like a trusted recommendation. This credibility boosts engagement, enhancing lead quality and quantity and revenue.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to leverage employee influencers and how to overcome the obstacles that inevitably come up when implementing an ambassador program on social media. Dive into to discover how you can leverage the strengths of your workforce into a compelling brand narrative. Let’s get started!

Benefits of employee advocacy on social media

When it comes to building a brand that people trust and engage with, the value of an employee advocacy program on social media can’t be overstated.

  • Extend reach: Brand messages shared on employee social accounts have 561% the reach of the same posts on corporate accounts. Moreover, employees are active on platforms you may not have tapped into, extending your reach to audiences you might not otherwise engage with.
  • Cut costs: Leveraging the organic reach of your employee brand ambassadors on social media is a low-cost method to enhance your marketing efforts.
  • Enhance lead quantity and quality: Leveraging employee influencers can increase your leads by 25%. But it isn’t just about lead quantity; it’s also about quality. Leads brought in through employee advocates have been shown to convert seven times more often.
  • Increase content lifespan and visibility: Content shared by staff often gets higher engagement rates, staying visible in feeds for longer.
  • Improve brand reputation: Your employees are already networked with a wide range of people who know and trust them. That translates to an authentic voice promoting your brand, which is often more relatable and trustworthy than the corporate account. As an added bonus, this boost in brand credibility amplifies your authority with search engines, resulting in higher page rank and increased web traffic.
  • Build longevity and loyalty: Employee satisfaction is the other side of the coin. When you create a culture of individuals who are passionate about your message, you also benefit from increased employee retention. As an added bonus, strong advocacy programs positively influence talent acquisition

Challenges in implementing an employee advocacy program

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While the benefits of an employee advocacy program on social media are evident, setting up and managing such a program comes with its own set of challenges.

  • Stepping beyond social shares: Program success involves more than simply asking employees to post on social media; true employee advocacy is multifaceted. Effective employee influencer programs equip brand ambassadors with quality, shareable social content while allowing them the autonomy to express their perspectives. This balance ensures authenticity, which is crucial for credible advocacy.
  • Cultivating a culture of brand champions: One of the greatest challenges is establishing a culture of trust and transparency. Without this foundation, fostering genuine brand cheerleaders becomes an uphill task. But the effort pays off as your most impactful influencers will be found in a workforce that genuinely believes in your company’s integrity and vision
  • Reputational risk: Companies may hesitate to fully endorse an employee influencer program because they worry about the potential conflicts between their brand values and the personal content that employees might have on their social media pages.
  • Privacy concerns: At the same time, companies must be mindful of personal boundaries. It’s all about respecting the private nature of their personal accounts. Setting up professional accounts is an option, but building connections from scratch can take time.
  • Legal and ethical consideration: Adding a layer of complexity, privacy and disclosure guidelines must be in place to inform employees what can and cannot be said, shared or endorsed, to avoid potential legal ramifications.
  • Granting time for social activity: Transitioning from traditional work norms that emphasize continuous task execution can be an adjustment. Businesses that typically restrict social media usage during work hours must reconsider their policies to successfully implement an employee ambassador program.
  • Measuring success: Measuring the impact of an employee ambassador program isn’t straightforward. While metrics like reach and engagement are easier to gauge, capturing the value of credibility and trust built through employee advocacy can be more nuanced.

How to initiate an employee ambassador program: Best practices

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Step 1: Define the objectives of employee advocacy on social media

Before you implement a program, it’s essential to define what success looks like for your company. Are you aiming to increase brand visibility, drive more website traffic or enhance trust and credibility in your market? Pinpointing your specific goals will not only provide direction for your program but also give your employees a clear sense of purpose when sharing content.

By establishing clear objectives at the outset, you’ll have concrete metrics against which to measure the effectiveness of your advocacy efforts and make data-driven decisions as the program evolves. For instance, if one of your objectives is to increase website traffic, a relevant benchmark could be a 20% rise in referral traffic from social media within six months.

Step 2: Assess your readiness for a social media employee advocacy program

Once you’ve defined your objectives, it’s critical to gauge where your company currently stands in terms of readiness. This assessment serves as a temperature check on both the logistical and cultural aspects of your organization.

Logistical readiness: Do you have the necessary resources – be it time, budget or personnel – to effectively implement and manage a program? Do you have a strong social media strategy? Have you explored the platforms or tools required to ensure your advocacy program aligns with your objectives?

Cultural readiness: Employee morale is key to a successful social media employee advocacy program. If there’s a lack of trust between leadership and staff, your program won’t yield the desired results. In addition, a culture of transparency and celebration smooths the transition to external sharing.

If this assessment reveals gaps in readiness, it’s wise to address them before moving forward. Your cultural aspect, in particular, may require nurturing. Employee advocacy thrives in environments where employees feel valued, informed and empowered. This step ensures you’re setting up your program for genuine success.

Step 3: Identify your employee advocates

Finding the right individuals to act as influencers is one of the most pivotal steps in setting up a successful program. Some of your employees are also your biggest fans—these are individuals who happily share your content and infuse it with their unique voice and expert perspective, enhancing its reach and resonance.

Here’s how to identify potential champions:

  • C-level ambassadors: Your leadership can bring unparalleled credibility to your advocacy efforts. Their endorsements can motivate your workforce to participate and can serve as a testament to the company’s commitment to the program. Additionally, their expertise can boost your brand authority and their expansive networks can significantly boost content reach.
  • Sales and marketing staff: These teams often have firsthand knowledge of the market, the challenges your clients face and the solutions your products or services offer. Their regular interactions with clients give them a unique perspective making their social media shares more relatable and impactful. As an added bonus, social media marketing can give your sales reps a 78% edge over their peers.
  • Other potential advocates: Look beyond titles and departments to identify brand enthusiasts throughout your organization. Keep an eye out for staff who demonstrate the following:
    • Established social presence
    • Networking skills
    • Communication skills
    • An energetic, charismatic or positive personality
    • Passion for your brand and your products
    • Living brand values in work and personal life
    • Reliability

The goal is to find staff who believe in your brand’s message. Forced or inauthentic advocacy can be counterproductive. Encourage voluntary participation and ensure that your identified influencers are comfortable representing your brand.

Step 4: Choose the right tools for your social media employee advocacy program

Selecting the appropriate tools is instrumental in streamlining and optimizing your program. With the right tech stack, you can ensure consistency, track performance and make the process user-friendly for your advocates. Here’s a breakdown of the types of tools you might consider:

  • Content planning apps help you strategize, organize and visualize your content calendar, ensuring that you have a steady stream of relevant content for your advocates to share. Examples: Trello, CoSchedule.
  • Employee ambassador apps are specifically designed to empower employee influencers to share curated company content with their networks. Example: EveryoneSocial, PostBeyond.
  • Social listening tools allow businesses to monitor brand mentions, track hashtags and understand audience sentiments in real time. Examples: Hootsuite, Brand24.
  • Analytics and performance tracking tools provide insights into how your posts are performing, which allows you to fine-tune your strategy for better results. Examples: Google Analytics, Sprout Social.
  • Content creation and curation tools assist in finding, creating or aggregating content for sharing. Examples: Canva, Feedly.

Investing in the right tools will help your social media team manage, measure and scale your program. It’s also worth noting that while many of these tools come with a cost, the ROI in terms of enhanced brand visibility, engagement and trust can be significant.

Step 5: Establish clear guidelines for your employee advocates

Clear guidelines help you to maintain brand consistency and protect your business and your staff against potential program pitfalls. The key is to provide direction while encouraging personal expression at the same time. Here’s how:

  • Purpose and scope: Get everyone on the same page by letting your team know why you’re hopping on the advocacy train and what you hope to achieve.
  • Content dos and don’ts: Explain the type of content to share, like office events, company news and product launches. But also establish which topics to avoid, such as politics, controversial matters and company secrets.
  • Platform guidelines: Whether you post videos, images or text, each social channel has its unique tone of voice. LinkedIn is more professional, while X or Instagram can be casual. Explain which tones feel right where and provide examples.
  • Rules of engagement: Explain how to keep conversations smooth, even when they get a bit spicy. This means knowing when to use a friendly reply, when to avoid interaction and when to seek assistance with negative comments. A little planning can prevent PR issues.
  • Disclosure: Remind your team to give a little shoutout to their connection with the brand. It’s all about transparency and–in some areas–legal compliance.
  • Use of imagery: Explain which pictures are OK to use and which to avoid, particularly regarding copyright matters. Provide a list of royalty-free sources they can use and where to find images provided by the company.
  • Privacy concerns: Highlight the importance of zipping up on confidential information. This includes client data, sales numbers or secret company recipes.
  • Feedback loop: Encourage your team to chime in on what’s working and what’s not. You can do this with surveys or focus groups where ambassadors are invited to share their challenges and successes and what additional supports they need. This type of frontline feedback is pure gold.

Step 6: Curate sharable content for your employee brand ambassadors on social media

young male capturing video for social media in his office.

Crafting an effective employee ambassador program is all about equipping your team with content they want to share. Here’s how to curate that content:

  • Mix and match content types: Not every piece of content has to be a 1000-word blog post or a sales pitch. Infographics, videos, podcasts and even simple text posts can be effective. Diversify your content to appeal to different preferences.
  • Highlight employee achievements: Your team is your biggest asset. Celebrate their milestones, achievements and events. When staff see themselves or their colleagues being highlighted, they’re more likely to share.
  • Encourage user-generated content (UGC): This can be as simple as an employee sharing their day at work or a behind-the-scenes look at your company culture. Or UGC can be a salesperson sharing their clients’ successes using your product. Authentic content like this resonates well with audiences.
  • Stay updated with industry trends: Discussing the latest news or trends in your industry positions your company as a thought leader. This is even more effective when your company’s subject matter experts (SMEs) share their insights. Employees will be proud to share content that puts them at the forefront of industry knowledge.
  • Provide clear CTAs: If you want your audience to take a specific action after consuming the content, be clear about it. Whether it’s signing up for a newsletter or checking out a new product, guide them toward the next step.
  • Ensure content is mobile-friendly: Many people consume content on the go. Making sure it’s easily accessible and looks good on mobile devices increases the likelihood of it being shared.
  • Provide talking points: Make it easy for brand ambassadors to curate their own posts and address subjects that may come up, including frequently asked questions (FAQs), hot industry topics, best practices, product usage tips and situational issues.
  • Promote sharing: It might sound simple, but sometimes, all it takes is a gentle reminder. Encourage your team to share by providing them with pre-crafted messages. Incentivize employees by holding friendly competitions, recognizing and awarding participation.

Step 7: Measure and adjust your employee advocate strategy

Once your employee ambassador program is up and running, it’s important to gauge how it’s doing and make tweaks where necessary. Regular check-ins and adjustments will keep your program on track and heading for success.

  • Define success: To measure the effectiveness of your efforts, your key performance indicators (KPIs) should align with the objectives you established in step 1.
  • Track reach: Monitor how far your content is traveling and how often it gets seen. Analytics and social listening tools will help you understand the increased reach your employees provide.
  • Engagement metrics: Track likes, shares and comments to see how your audience is interacting with the content.
  • Conversion: Use dedicated landing pages or UTM parameters (tracking codes) to see how many conversions are originating from your employee advocates.
  • Refine: In marketing, optimization is the name of the game. Regular fine-tuning ensures that you get the best results at the lowest cost. This means adapting your content or your employee advocacy strategy based on your data and feedback. Look at your results and do more of what works.

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Ready to get started with employee advocacy on social media?

Employee advocacy is more than just a marketing strategy; it’s a super-effective way to deepen the connection between your brand and your audience. When your team stands behind your message, it feels genuine and builds significant trust. Like all endeavors, it has its advantages and challenges. Yet, by embracing the best practices we’ve discussed, you can harness the collective power of your team to elevate your brand’s presence.

Thinking about venturing into employee advocacy on social media? It might seem like an intricate process, but our social media experts are ready to help. Contact Elevation Marketing to see how we can jumpstart your brand ambassadors program.

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