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Kicking Off an Employee Advocacy Program

Ashley Thon

Leads developed through employee social marketing initiatives convert 7X more frequently than other leads. (Kredible via IBM)

Recognized or not, employees have the potential to be your brand’s biggest advocates. The rise of social media has paved the way for businesses to create programs dedicated to employee advocacy, but the process can be daunting. This is where integrated marketing firms come into play. These firms have the knowledge and skillset to help market your brand through your own employees. You heard me – employee advocacy is just another form of marketing. Your employees have the ability to market your brand on social and increase brand awareness. Integrated firms can get your program off the ground and allow it to run smoothly, but first you need to learn the basics. Understanding the importance and potential of a program, learning how to create and implement it, and getting everyone on board are three roadblocks that often hinder brands from developing an employee advocacy program.

Source: pexels.com used under CC license.

To further simplify these roadblocks, we’ve broken down the process for you. Here’s how to establish an employee advocacy program that works for your company:

Understanding the Importance

Unless you’ve reached your ideal number of Twitter followers, maximized your Facebook engagements and identified a pool of workers desperate to write the next blog post, there’s room for an employee advocacy program. A dedicated program is designed to address all of these concerns and more – allowing your brand to make improvements across every channel. A properly constructed employee advocacy program encourages people to share (and create) your content, build your brand awareness through social, and highlight your company successes along the way – all while utilizing a group of people that are already under your roof.

If those reasons aren’t compelling enough, the possibility for added revenue through your program should be. What if I told you that you could boost referral traffic through an employee advocacy program? Or that the increase in brand awareness can lead to new hires, which in turn, allows for more clients and revenue? The ROI of an employee advocacy program has endless potential. All you need is the knowledge of how to create and implement one.

Learn more about integrated marketing and PR, read: Defining Your Integrated Marketing & PR Strategy.

Creation & Implementation

There isn’t a uniform list of “To-Do’s” when it comes to creating an employee advocacy program. If your goal is to boost impressions and engagement on social through your employees, your pathway to creating a program will be very different from someone looking to increase employee-contributed content. Either way, the one step that is the same for anyone looking to start a program is defining your goals. After you’ve established your goals, the program can be built off of ways to reach them. In alignment with your goals, you should also determine key candidates for your program – realizing that not every employee will be a good fit or willing to participate. Lastly, creating incentives that will encourage participation is a must. How many times have you done something that doesn’t directly benefit you in some way? Remember that all employees are human and are better convinced when a task is incentivized.

Implementing an employee advocacy program requires three things: a team to manage, a method for tracking, and a budget. How you go about managing your program will vary from company to company, depending on resources available. The important aspect that is often overlooked is the measurement of your program. If you’re implementing the program with goals in mind, you need a platform to help you track your goals and employee participation. Lastly, ironing out a budget that will be dedicated to this program is crucial. This budget includes rewards or prizes used to incentivize, time spent managing the program (because time is money!), and any costs associated with tracking programs. Determining your budget will also determine how extensive your employee advocacy program can be – so make sure to get approvals.

Finding Participants

As discussed above, it’s difficult to encourage participation when employees don’t feel like there’s anything in it for them. Create a system that rewards employees for their participation on a regular basis: quarterly team lunches, gift cards, sleep-ins, etc. Make your program worthwhile, because in the long run, the company will benefit from successful employee advocacy efforts as a whole.

Getting your program off the ground will not be easy – nobody said it would be. But it will be worth it. Having your employees advocate for your brand can not only improve your presence across channels, it can help develop the company’s relationship with employees they may not have had strong connections with. While there are bound to be bumps along the way, there’s something to be said for a brand that can pull off a successful employee advocacy program. Will yours be next?

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