Employee advocacy — employees promoting their organization on social media, blogs, or other online platforms — is an incredibly effective way to reach new customers and strengthen relationships with existing ones.
And the popularity of this type of program is growing with companies, primarily due to the success brands see from implementing advocacy.
In fact, a study from MSLGroup found that employee-shared or created content receives a whopping 561% larger reach online compared with company posts. And those posts from employees, when written with authenticity, receive nearly 800% more interactions than company-shared posts. 😮
With an effective employee advocacy program, you can leverage the collective power of your employees to generate more leads, build brand awareness and trust, and strengthen customer retention.
But how do you make sure your program succeeds? And what steps can you take right now to start building an effective program? In this guide to implementing an employee advocacy program, we’ll take a closer look at some creative ways to introduce the concept of employee advocacy to your organization.
What Is An Employee Advocacy Program?
First, let’s take a closer look at what an employee advocacy program actually is.
In short, an employee advocacy program is a system designed to encourage and enable employees to actively promote the company’s products, services, content, and events. It typically involves giving employees specific guidelines for sharing information on social, as well as providing them with resources like articles or promotional materials to share across their networks.
Employee advocacy programs vary greatly in terms of size, scope, and implementation methods; however, they all share a few key components:
- Clearly defined goals. You need to have clear objectives for your program, so everyone is on the same page in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish. A goal could be anything from increasing brand awareness to generating more leads.
- An effective strategy. Your program must have a solid plan in place that outlines how you’ll reach your objectives and what tactics will be used. This could include tactics like gamification, contests, or rewards for sharing content.
- A team of advocates. You need to identify a group of employees who are willing and able to share company content. This team should be composed of people with different levels of experience, expertise, and job functions to reach a broad audience.
- A system of rewards. Finally, you need to provide incentives for employees who participate in your program. This can include things like leaderboard bonuses, prizes, or recognition from senior leadership team members.
Implementation aside for a moment, just consider the encouraging stats behind employee advocacy programs in general. A study from the Hinge Research Institute recently found that 86% of employees who actively engage with their company’s employee advocacy program found it beneficial to their careers.
Compare that to a Nielsen study that found that 88% of consumers prefer to buy after hearing about a product from someone they know and trust (i.e. an employee of the company) and you can see the beneficial feedback loop at work.
Happy team members who feel passionate about their careers sharing that passion with their networks? That makes for a powerful marketing engine.
7 Ways To Introduce An Employee Advocacy Program To Employees
Now that you understand the basics of employee advocacy let’s look at seven creative ways to introduce the concept to your people.
These methods can be done in tandem, or you could choose to focus on just one or two.
1. Build A Team Of Champions
One of the best ways to introduce and promote an employee advocacy program is to create a team of “champions” who will be responsible for helping launch the initiative and motivating other employees. Advocacy champions should be knowledgeable about the company, passionate about their work, and willing to share content with their networks.
These champions can help change the new program from “just another management initiative” to something employees feel passionate about and want to be a part of.
Plus, they become drivers of engagement, helping to increase the reach and effectiveness of your advocacy program.
2. Hold An Advocacy Launch Event
An in-person launch event is an effective way to introduce the concept of employee advocacy and spark enthusiasm among your team members. Consider hosting an event where everyone can learn more about the program, ask questions, and network with one another just like Instructure did.
You can also use the event to recognize some of your champions and give them a special platform to share their experiences. This will help create an environment where others feel more comfortable participating in the program.
Don’t stop with just one event — think about ways you can keep events going throughout the year.
Host regular training sessions and networking opportunities to keep the momentum going and ensure your employees get the most out of their advocacy program.
3. Host A Training Webinar or Online Experience
Hybrid and fully-remote teams don’t have to miss out on the excitement of an employee advocacy launch event. Simply host a webinar, where you can provide everyone with essential information about the program and answer any questions they may have.
When developing your webinar, consider ways to make it more than just a presentation. Think of interactive activities that will encourage engagement. You could also provide employees with helpful tutorials on how to get started sharing company content and tips for building relationships online.
4. Create Collateral For Employees
Creating collateral for employees to learn more about your employee advocacy program is a great way to increase participation.
This could include a variety of content, such as an FAQ document, best practices guide, cheat sheet on how to share company content on social media, or even posters that feature inspiring messages and promotional materials.
Make sure that all of the materials you create are easy to find and refer to. Include them in your team’s internal communication channels, or provide each employee with a packet during the launch event.
5. Offer Incentives & Rewards via Gamification
People are more likely to participate in an advocacy program if there are rewards involved.
Consider offering incentives for employees who reach certain milestones or share specific types of content. This can help make the program more fun and engaging for employees while helping drive more awareness for your company.
You could also use a gamification platform to track employee activity and encourage competition between team members.
Gamification, which can include elements such as leaderboards and points, helps foster an environment of friendly competition that encourages employees to participate more in the program.
By taking some time to plan and implement these strategies, you’ll ensure that your employee advocacy program has maximum impact from day one. This will help create momentum for the initiative and grow reach and engagement among employees — as well as increase your ROI.
6. Create A Culture Of Openness
Fostering a culture of openness around employee advocacy is key to your program’s success. The last thing you want is employees to feel discouraged from speaking up or sharing their thoughts and experiences.
Encourage dialogue between team members, both inside and outside of the program. Make sure everyone knows it’s okay to ask questions and share thoughts freely — even if they don’t necessarily agree with the company’s position on a particular issue.
Promoting an open and collaborative environment will help foster a sense of trust, which is essential for employee advocacy to be successful.
7. Measure & Evaluate Your Program’s Performance
It’s essential to measure and evaluate the performance of your employee advocacy program to ensure it’s meeting its objectives. Look at key metrics such as reach, engagement, and sentiment to get an understanding of how successful the program has been so far.
Monitoring and updating your teams on their performance is beneficial as it helps them track their progress and feel motivated to continue participating in the program. Tracking metrics also allows you to adjust your program if necessary or identify areas that need more attention.
Consider adding an employee feedback mechanism to your program — this could be as simple as a survey or questionnaire that employees can take after they have completed tasks. Gathering employee feedback will help you gain insight into what works well and the areas that need improvement.
Empower Your Greatest Asset: Your Employees
Employee advocacy can be a powerful tool for driving brand awareness and engagement, and implementing a program doesn’t have to be a daunting task.
Companies that take advantage of the creativity and enthusiasm of their employees can reap the rewards of a successful advocacy program.
By planning and executing an effective employee advocacy program, you can ensure your company is making the most of its greatest asset: its people.
Get creative and show your employees they are valued by supporting them in their advocacy efforts. This will help create an engaged, committed workforce that proudly represents your brand!