In an era where social media is a centerpiece of our professional lives, more and more companies are looking to harness it to climb new revenue heights, amplify their brand voice to reach more audiences, and forge stronger teams through hiring.
It’s no secret then that employee advocacy is on the minds of executives, marketers and HR recruiters alike. In our webinar last week, we asked attendees where they were at with their employee advocacy efforts: 81% of them replied saying they were either researching and planning (35%), or experimenting (11%), or are now launching (35%) their programs.
But with new opportunities also come uncertainties.
To succeed in employee advocacy, getting employees to share content is critical. To achieve that goal you need a solid launch strategy.
Our webinar host, Sarah Beatty, a Senior Customer Success Manager (CSM) at PostBeyond, is no stranger to helping companies achieve high engagement rates, increased brand awareness, and revenue from their employee advocacy.
In our virtual sit down with Sarah, we learned exactly what you need to do using proven, real-world strategies and best practices to get employees on board from day one.
If you want to know how to spark momentum for employee engagement and sharing, then this webinar is for you. In this blog, we recap what real-world companies did with their launches to get a 72%+ employee engagement rate.
Key Takeaway #1: Get Executive Buy-In
In Sarah’s experience, getting executive buy-in from day-one is essential. Not only should those executives understand the value-proposition of employee advocacy, but they should inspire action as well.
Dynatrace, for example, attained a 73% user adoption rate because its leadership championed employee advocacy. They set an example from the very top and that motivated the rest of the company to embrace employee advocacy.
How Do You Get Executive Buy-In?
Sarah observed that the number-one mistake marketers make is that they don’t put themselves in the shoes of executives.
To get executive buy-in, you need to show how employee advocacy will help drive revenue, the organization’s major goals and other concrete factors. If you speak to executives prepared with those points, you’ll have a more fruitful conversation.
Key Takeaway #2: Leverage the Right Teams
To get high employee engagement rates, you need to ensure that you’re working with the right teams and individuals. When it comes to high-performing companies, Sarah observed that they universally involve their customer or external-facing teams. These include sales, marketing, HR, customer success and anyone else who has an interest in building a presence on social.
There are three reasons why you need to include these teams:
1. They have an incentive to build a strong presence on social media. They use social to achieve revenue for the company or build their own brand. In comparison, many product or development teams don’t necessarily need a strong social presence for their direct work or personal growth.
2. When you combine these external-facing teams, you find that in many cases they do form a sizable portion of the company anyways. You basically generate broad-based participation and input from the company by working with all of them.
3. They may be the lowest-hanging fruits. For example, sales teams are generally active on social media already. In fact, Sarah saw that her most successful employee advocacy launches generally started with the sales team as they’re already familiar with the platforms you’re usually targeting and readily understand your goals.
Selecting the right teams to launch and sustain your employee advocacy is key. 41% of our attendees told us that their top obstacle to employee advocacy is employees saying they’re uncomfortable with using social media. Working with teams that are already familiar with your target social media platforms and with incentive to share can help overcome that issue.
Key Takeaway #3: Involve Employees in Content
Put employees at the center of your content. Instead of a one-way link where you’re only giving content for them to share, look for ways to involve them in the creation process as well.
Sarah highlighted three popular ways to do this:
1. Position your employees as subject matter experts (SME) through webinars, quotes (in blogs or social media posts), whitepapers and videos. This content spotlights people at your companies as the experts in their fields and your industry. It gives employees an incentive to share content since it directly speaks to them and helps promote their thought leadership and personal brands.
2. Put a spotlight on specific employees. For example, you can interview employees about your company and their work. Content like this is a great way to give outsiders a window into your company culture and team, which can boost your talent recruitment efforts.
3. Leverage employee-generated content by encouraging your employees to write posts and produce their own photos and videos. You can eliminate fear by creating a social media policy that clearly defines what the company allows and prohibits on social. You can also offer a channel for employees to recommend content as well.
Finally, use a variety of tools to notify your employees about new content. Both old-fashioned newsletters and ‘new-fashioned’ chat suites (like Slack and Teams) work well.
Key Takeaway #4: Use Incentives and Rewards
You can create, sustain and boost momentum with gamification. Contests, rewards and even recognition incentivize employees to keep sharing and, potentially, take it up a notch. You can even use team leaderboards to spark a competitive fire between teams and team-members.
However, try not to focus on only top-performers. Sarah advised having rewards and contests for ‘most improved’ and other achievements to celebrate and encourage employee growth on social media. She added that monthly contests are a good cadence to sustain momentum. You want to look at generating more activity and getting more people involved.
Key Takeaway #5: Measure Results
Last, but most important, track your performance. You need a strong analytics and reporting capability to help link your employee advocacy progress to your company’s goals.
One method is to track the earned media value (EMV) of your engagement. This is the dollar value of your employees’ social media engagement (e.g. likes, shares, etc) if you had paid for ads instead.
Sarah also reviewed how some of her customers attributed revenue to their employee advocacy efforts. This approach equipped those teams with relevant reports for their decision-makers and other top stakeholders.
If you’re just starting out your employee advocacy, Sarah said you can still get insights using the reporting tools baked into social media platforms.
“When launching an employee advocacy program, should we go with a small-scale pilot program or involve the whole organization?”
Sarah Beatty: It depends on your organization. I generally recommend starting with anyone who is external-facing, like sales, CS, HR and marketing. In most organizations, these teams often make up the majority of the company, or at least a large portion. You can try opening it up to everyone, but we haven’t seen a lot of success from non-externally-facing teams, such as the product or development team.
It’s hard to get their buy-in because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t help their career much to be active on social media. So, think of it as a hybrid: Pilot in the sense you’re not involving everyone, but you should still target key groups and invite everyone in those teams. It’s easier to invite more people and see who opts in as opposed to starting with a smaller team. You get so many more results and better overall advocacy when you open it up to everyone instead of a select few.
“How do you get over the objection of employees saying ‘they don’t have enough time?’”
Sarah Beatty: You want to make content sharing as easy for them as possible. So, a solution that automates the process with scheduling, for example, is a good start. If you’re grassroots, then look at pre-writing the caption for them and have the link ready.
If you’d like to watch a replay of the webinar, click here for the full recording. To learn more about how to activate executives and employees on social media, check out: