Metrics Essential to Employee Advocacy

Rangeena Akbary

Rangeena Akbary

Employee advocacy has come along way in the last 10 years. What started as an intern managed exercise to help build social media presence has transitioned into a strategic, executive-lead initiative to help achieve marketing, sales, and employer branding goals.

Budgets and technology continue to expand for social media advocacy because the benefits are manifold. For starters, people trust people more than they trust brands and so content shared by your employees can receive 8x more engagement than content shared by your brand’s channels (Social Media Today). Furthermore, a study found that brand messages reached 561% farther when shared by employees vs. the same messages shared via official brand social channels.

As a Customer Success Manager here at PostBeyond, I find that while investing in employee advocacy is a great first step, it’s pointless to run a program without identifying key metrics to use in order to measure your program’s success.

Let’s dive into all the reasons why employee advocacy metrics matter:

  • The right metrics will help you measure the success of your program
  • The only way to measure the success of your program is by setting metrics
  • If you don’t set any metrics, you may never know if your program is successful or not…

You get the point (If you don’t, the message here is that you need to set metrics in order to measure success in three different ways.)

Metrics matter because they are the foundation on which the employee advocacy house is built. You need to know what you consider success and how you are going to track that before launching a campaign, otherwise proving program value will be almost impossible. Ensuring your program is built on strong and detailed metrics creates the strong foundation needed for your employee advocacy program to flourish.

Here are some other reasons why metrics are important:

  • In addition to measuring success, it will allow you to track if your program is improving over time
  • You can compare your program to other organizations in your industry and other companies your size to see how you’re performing against benchmarks
  • Without quantifiable metrics, you cannot calculate the ROI of your program
  • Anecdotal stories can only go so far in getting executive buy-in. You will need quantifiable results at some point to convince executives to get on board

Now that we have established why metrics are important, let’s talk about what are the most important metrics that admins use. I would say there is no straightforward answer to that question because it all depends on what the admins’ objectives are for their employee advocacy program. The only metric that is universally used and cared about across all customers and all verticals is Share rate (which is the % of users sharing content).

Below, I break down the remaining metrics that are important to admins by different use cases and objectives.

Thought Leadership

If the objective of your employee advocacy program is to simply enable your employees to build their professional brand and establish themselves as experts in their fields, then below are the metrics you will want to measure:

  • Adoption (% of users logging in and consuming content) – this is important because even if users are not sharing content, there is a benefit in them consuming content to increase their knowledge of the industry.
  • Share rate (% of users sharing content)
  • Shares per user – you want to ensure that users are sharing frequently enough to stay relevant in their networks, but not so much that they are spamming their followers and connections.
  • Interactions per user (specifically comments) – being a thought leader means to provoke thought and start meaningful conversations through the content you share.
  • User suggestions (content suggested by users) – oftentimes, your biggest thought leaders will be major content contributors to your platform as they tend to source content on their own through different sources.
  • Audience growth (for the company’s thought leaders) – this would be a manual process but important in understanding if their social activity is gaining new followers.
  • Earned media value – the easiest way to put a monetary amount on the value/ROI you are getting from your employee advocacy platform.

Social Selling

If the main goal of your program is to allow your employees to leverage social media in order to reach prospects and generate new business, then you will want to measure the metrics below:

  • Share rate (% of users sharing content)
  • Shares per user – again, you want to ensure your sales team is sharing frequently enough but not spamming their networks because that will damage their credibility.
  • Interactions (specifically comments) – comments are important because you want the content shared to start meaningful conversations with prospects.
  • Clickthroughs (especially for branded content) – it’s important that viewers click on your branded content to arrive at your website and potentially fill out a form.
  • Website traffic – this will help you gauge whether PostBeyond is driving enough traffic to your website so that you can adjust the volume of branded content you create/add to the platform. It can also differentiate between the quality of website traffic coming from your social media channels and PostBeyond.
  • Leads generated – the only way to get new business through employee advocacy is to generate a lead first. That is what makes this metric the most important when measuring the success of a social selling advocacy program.
  • Lead conversion rate – it’s important to keep track of how many leads generated through employee advocacy turn into new business so that you can report on ROI.

Talent Acquisition (Employer Branding)

If your goal is to amplify your brand’s message and reach more applicants through your employee advocacy program, then below are the metrics you should track:

  • Share rate (% of users sharing content)
  • Interactions (specifically likes and reshares) – having people like your content or retweet/reshare is an easy way to ensure your content reaches more people.
  • Clickthroughs – clickthroughs are a good indication of whether your content is resonating with users or not.
  • Website traffic – this ties into the metric above because each click on branded content generates website traffic, which brings the viewer one step closer to filling out an application and/or learning more about the organization.
  • Applications received – the only way to know if your employee advocacy program is helping your recruitment efforts is if you actually receive applications or referrals.
  • Network performance – if one network is performing better than others in generating clickthroughs and new applications, then you may want to advise your employees to share on that network more often.
  • Audience growth (for the company’s brand channels) – even if you can’t tie this directly with your activity on PostBeyond, increased followers is a good indicator that your employee advocacy platform is working.
  • Earned media value – the easiest way to put a monetary amount on the value/ROI you are getting from your employee advocacy platform.

So you are probably thinking that the most logical next step in determining which metrics are important for you to track is to simply narrow down your program’s use case to one of the above. However, it’s not that simple. While your program’s main use case could be Social Selling, you may not care too much about the lead conversion rate, if your objective is to simply help your sales team start conversations online.

In addition, metrics that are measured outside of employee advocacy platforms (such as website traffic, lead generation, and conversion) require the appropriate setup in order to be tracked (such as Google Analytics and a compatible marketing automation tool.)

So how do you find out which metrics you want to measure? You determine your employee advocacy program’s use case. Then you set specific objectives for your program and select the appropriate metrics to track in order to measure your progress and ultimate success. The beauty of an ongoing program like this is that you can change the metrics you want to measure at any time you prefer, based on how your use case and objectives for the program shift overtime.

So what are some of the current metrics measurement trends?

The trends I find in current metrics measurement is that admins are focused heavily on end-user activity, as opposed to audience activity. It’s important for them to track how many users are registering for a seat in the program out of the users invited. How many users are logging in on a regular basis? How many users are sharing actively and how frequently are they sharing? It’s more important to them for instance that 50 users are sharing on the platform, generating 500 interactions, than 20 users sharing regularly and generating the 500 interactions. This is important to them because user adoption is an easy and more reliable way for them to justify the investment they have made in the program.

Where I see the future of employee advocacy metrics going is more focus will be placed on the quality of results than mere adoption of the program. As technology advances and more information about market trends becomes available, metrics around interactions (likes comments, reshares/retweets), and clickthroughs can be more accurately measured, producing a more reliable earned media value. When all organizations are able to have the proper setup to track website traffic and lead generation, their admins will veer towards tracking those metrics in addition to native platform metrics.

Although we have come a long way in making employee advocacy mainstream, the tools necessary to measure the success of all possible metrics are not yet so mainstream. The future, however, looks very bright.

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