Employee advocacy on Social Media: everything you need to know to get started

Posted on May 25, 2015 by

As a Social Media Manager it seems like your responsibilities are endless right? You have to create your social campaigns, manage all your pages, respond on blogs and forums whilst also making sure that you’re hitting your targets…. ARRRGGGHHH meltdown!

But what if I told you that you’re not on your own? What if I told you that you can have a whole team working with you to achieve your desired outcome… at no extra cost? Welcome to the wonderful world of employee advocacy.

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What is Employee Advocacy?

Employee advocacy” is the process of using employees to generate exposure for your brand using their own online networks & connections. In practice this means that every member of your organization from the cleaner right through to the CEO can assist you in promoting your brand and achieving your targets. Everything you do can be amplified a hundred or a thousand times, ultimately optimizing the success of your campaigns.

I recently decided to try employee advocacy through social media and I want to show you how. I also want to show you how your company’s employees are the biggest asset you have at your disposal.

Why Employee Advocacy Through Social Media?

Ok I know I don’t need to convince you about the value of social media marketing! We all know how effective it can be and how it can help you to achieve your goals but here are three reasons why you should try employee advocacy through social media:

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  1. Influence

Have you checked out all your employees on social media? Probably not because you’re a social media manager and who has the time to do that! However, if you did, you might find that some of your team have the potential for powerful social media influence. These may be your department heads, directors, shareholders and managers. They have influence because they are connected to the right people, attend the right events and are looked up to as people of significant corporate value. If they make a statement or endorse a concept then it is likely it will be listened to and respected, certainly within your industry.

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  1. Reach

Reach is not necessarily linked to influence. Remember the popular kids at school? They had tons of friends and everyone else watched what they were doing. When we are talking about social media reach we are talking ultimately about the number of people who will be exposed to your posts and this is where your popular kids come in! Your receptionist might not know anything about marketing but she has 5,000 Facebook friends so she can amplify your reach by 5,000 and then of course those 5,0000 friends have friends… you get the picture!

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  1. Teamwork

Ever noticed that your organization works in a segmented way? Marketing does their thing while sales is busy with theirs. Sometimes there is an “US” and “THEM” problem in many companies. Social media advocacy breaks down the barriers between departments and gets everyone feeling like they are helping to achieve one goal. It also means that all your departments are watching your campaigns and marketing messages and are therefore better equipped to relay them to clients. Want to really get everyone motivated? Read on!

3 Steps To Achieving Employee Advocacy Through Social Media

Ready to get started? Woah, before you dive in, let’s understand how to achieve employee advocacy:

1) Trust

Employee advocacy through social media will only work effectively if your company culture is one of trust. Never try to force employees! This will only backfire in the long run. Discuss this with your company directors first to ensure that they support you in your goals and understand your vision. Corporate elements of trust will include:

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  • Freedom to use social networks for professional reasons in work time
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  • Understanding and enthusiasm on behalf of department heads
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  • A willingness to share information between departments

2) Training

Remember that as a Social Media Manager you fully understand what’s happening in the digital world but don’t assume that everyone in your organization is the same. If you really want to give employee advocacy a shot then you have to be prepared to invest some time in basic training. You should also be ready for a flurry of post training questions and be on hand to give support. Corporate training elements may include:

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  • A basic presentation introducing the concept to your organization
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  • Department specific social media workshops
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  • Providing the materials needed such as videos, JPEGS and content.

3) Motivation

Here’s my favorite but most challenging key to advocacy success. How do you motivate your employees to join your extended social media team? Again… DON’T FORCE THEM! Some employees will not want to use social media while others prefer to keep their work and personal lives completely separate. That’s totally cool and should be respected. However, there are ways to motivate your team to join in:

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  • Emphasize how their contribution counts towards company bonus/shares/turnover
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  • Incentivize through internal contests, prizes and leaderboards
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  • Provide regular progress updates and utilize excellent communication

Employee Advocacy Ideas

Setting a plan in motion for employee advocacy through social media is excellent but you need to have in your mind some practical ways that your corporation’s employees can work with you. Remember that the choice of network, frequency and participation is entirely theirs. Whether you want them to share your latest news, tweet about your products or check-in online; your employees must consider your content to be relevant to them and their followers.

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  • Like/share/comment on your company Facebook posts
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  • Share social media contests on Twitter
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  • Tweet your latest news or blog posts
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  • Post/share company careers on Linkedin
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  • Translate & share on regional networks such as Weibo and QQ
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  • Post your links in Linkedin discussion groups
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  • Participate in social media interviews for G+/Facebook
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  • Star in short educational videos for YouTube
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  • Check-in on Swarm or Facebook (bonus points for adding a photo)
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  • Comment on forums or discussion threads in their specialty
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  • Provide ideas for future social media campaigns
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  • Write an article for your blog or website
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  • Tag their friends or followers in your posts or photos

I recently ran a workshop with the affiliate division of a large international brand. The initial feedback was “why do we need social media” and “we are too busy to do it”. Once we narrowed it down to Linkedin and Twitter and the team learned how to use the networks to help them achieve their goals they changed their minds! Within the first day they had identified influencers and converted 2 affiliates through social media.

Tools To Help You Monitor Employee Advocacy

Depending on how far you want to take employee advocacy, there are tools which can be used to monitor performance. From my own perspective I would say use them purely to reward the highest performers and do not try to set targets and KPIs. You are not their manager and you do not want them to see social media advocacy as “yet another thing they have to do”.

These tools can help you with social monitoring, content distribution, sharing, translations, collaboration and advocacy rewards as per the below screenshot from People Linx.

people linx 2

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  1. Circulate.it integrates with Hootsuite;
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  3. Command Post
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  5. Everyone Social
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  7. People Linx
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  9. Sprinklr

You can find more great tools for employee advocacy right HERE

 What Can You Monitor?

I’m a big believer in tracking everything on social media but it can be tricky to track the actions of other employees. Effort does not always equal results so be sure to reward everyone who participates. Meanwhile, here are some of the social elements you should be monitoring:

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  • Sales and ROI from social media
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  • Web traffic from social media
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  • Demographics shift or change
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  • Social page growth and interaction
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  • Interaction from existing clients

Pay It Back

Obviously a successful employee advocacy program is going to benefit you and it will certainly benefit your company but how do employees benefit? This all boils down to your imagination, your enthusiasm and how well you sell and support the idea. From my experience small prizes combined with an enthusiastic approach work really well.  A box of chocolates for the highest shares each week or a Starbucks voucher for a great social action can really whip up a competitive storm in the office.

Whip up a competitive storm using a leader board from Command Post as below:

command post 3

I believe that employee advocacy is an excellent way to power up your marketing efforts and I would love to hear from you if you have tried it out yourself. Tweet me @charli_says

Charli Day is a British writer and social media manager specializing in dynamic branding, campaign strategy and content engagement. Responsible for a number of high profile brands and with 500+ articles published, her success lies within her originality and hands on experience of the digital marketing world. Charli lives by the Mediterranean and loves Starbucks, popcorn flavoured jellybeans and writing poetry.