Employee Advocacy Definition:

What Every Company Needs to Know

Social networks are both massive and continuing to grow. Consumers and business professionals gravitate towards these platforms for recommendations and to do their own research before making purchasing decisions. These are but a few of the reasons why employee advocacy is an important strategic initiative for so many companies.

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No matter if you’re new to employee advocacy or…

…if you’re in the process of getting a program spun up at your company, this guide will cover all the essentials you need to know about employee advocacy and why getting a program up and running at your company is so important.


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Ready for the deep dive into employee advocacy? Jump into the journey below.

 

Let’s keep it simple:

Employee advocacy is about curating brand and other content for your team members to read and share to their social networks. Full stop. Because you’re exposing your people to a broad array of relevant information they become more informed and engaged, and when they share that content to their social networks they help to increase your brand’s reach by over 500%. Did we mention your customers will trust you more as well? The benefits are manifold.

Why is it important?

Companies need positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations to help build trust in the market. Problem is, that can’t be established solely through brand marketing; people trust people (their peers, co-workers, friends, and family) far more than they trust often faceless brands.

Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. (Source)

For this reason, employee advocacy is one of the best forms of reputation-building marketing, but it has to be genuine and it is sometimes difficult to achieve organically.

Naturally, you or your company leaders might be concerned about encouraging your people to use social media at work. However, the reality is that they’re already doing it: 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company. (Source)

Some ways to get over your fears of employee advocacy:

  • Realize that the majority of your customers, prospects, potential future hires, and existing employees are on social
  • Focus on playing offense rather than defense vis a vis your employees who are already active on social; turn them into your star players!
  • Remember that everyone wants to keep their job; there are natural incentives in place that promote good behaviors when using social at work
  • Don’t shortchange employee training, provide support and guidelines; it’s very important that people know how to be successful and where the pitfalls are
  • Seek out help from social media professionals. Chances are the hurdles you are facing are ones that others have faced before (and overcome)

What Is An Employee Advocacy Platform?

An employee advocacy platform such as EveryoneSocial, enables employees to access and share approved company content with their networks.

In order for employees to actively participate in an employee advocacy program, they need to be enabled with tools that allow them to access content, share, engage, and otherwise be active on social media in a professional manner. Many large and well-known brands are adopting a strategy and platform for employees, like Dell, Reebok, Adobe, T-Mobile. More on that in a later section.

Employee advocacy software is made up of two main components:

  1. Tools for admins and program managers:
    • The tools for admins should include things like detailed reporting and analytics, content curation and review, and user provisioning and management.
  2. Tools for your team members to access and share content:
    • For your team members, employee advocacy tools should include web and mobile applications, news reader features, and robust (but simple) sharing options. Critically, it should also allow your people to connect all of the social networks they’re active on (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin).

Employee advocacy platforms, coupled with a well-run program can transform everyone in your workforce into powerful marketers, sellers, recruiters, and communicators.

Brands can no longer rely on traditional forms of advertising. Consumers and business professionals alike do their research on a purchase long before they officially engage with anyone at your company and if you’re not a part of that un-official research, chances are they may never even consider you.

While sharing content is certainly where employee advocacy can deliver solid roi, the reality is that there are many other side benefits that you’ll find are perhaps equally as important to your company. Ultimately a big part of achieving success is letting your people do some of the steering.

Problems occur when companies take a purely top-down approach to employee advocacy, where the only thing a team member needs to decide is if they’re going to share the content pushed to them by their company. Don’t forget, it’s the employees network and success comes from getting your people to want to share, organically.

Ultimately it’s about making sure everyone is driving towards the same goals. If you can align the objectives of your program (e.g., content shares, engagements, etc.) with what your people want (e.g., bigger networks, better engagement, etc.) you’ll be set up for sustained success.

Related: Looking for more about EveryoneSocial’s employee advocacy platform? Grab our datasheet to get some quick highlights and features.

Employee Advocacy Incentives: What Are the Benefits?

The goal of employee advocacy is to better leverage the social networks of employees, both for the benefit of the company and the employees themselves. It should be a two way street, where everyone involved is rewarded.

For a business:

Employee advocacy opens up opportunities to drive brand recognition, increase organic sharing and engagement, increase referral traffic, generate new leads, and source new potential hires, all through the trusted voice of their employees.

There are new reasons and benefits to put a program in place that weren’t here just a few short years ago.

  • Your brand followers aren’t seeing your content
  • Influencer (celebrity) marketing can only get you so far
  • Your employees can be your most valuable asset
  • Your buyers trust your employees more than your brand

 

For employees:

Participating in an employee advocacy provides opportunities for employees to burnish their professional profile online, to grow their networks, to better engage with their contacts, to develop meaningful relationships, and progress in their professional careers.

While it’s tempting to think about an employee advocacy program as a corporate program, the success of any program is a function of how engaged your employees are in the program, and in order for them to be engaged at a high and sustained level, they have to understand what’s in it for them.

  • Help them establish their profiles, to grow their networks
  • Train them on how to be successful and they will better engage with their networks
  • Provide them with the best tools and they will drive awesome results for your company

If you want all the high-level ways employee advocacy will boost your business and elevate your brand, you’ll enjoy this piece here.

Employee Advocacy Solutions

We’ve covered a lot above, so thanks for staying with us so far! Now the big question might come in, where does employee advocacy work best? What solutions can it be applied to?

It really depends on what your use case might be, which can be specific departments to a roll-out to an entire company. Here are some areas where employee advocacy can have a great impact.

Marketing:

Marketing is tasked with producing and promoting content to the widest possible audience. Leveraging your employees to help spread that message across their own social networks is a no-brainer and is an opportunity that we believe applies to any organization with more than a few hundred employees.

Learn: How Coupa Used Social Media & Employees to Increase Marketing Reach

For marketing this helps with brand visibility, driving web traffic, increasing leads and improve lead quality, boosting marketing reach, saving on paid advertising costs, and expand organic social reach.

On average, an employee advocacy program involving 1,000 active participants can generate $1,900,000 in advertising value (Source)

Sales:

Sales teams also adopt and find value in employee advocacy. While more commonly referred to as social selling or even as just a part of an overall sales enablement strategy, sales teams’ use of employee advocacy tools and practices is rapidly growing and has shown some very exciting results.

Learn: Why Genesys Invested Big In A Social Selling Program

It’s simple: salespeople are always in search of gaining an edge on their competition. Combine that with the fact that more traditional channels such as email and phone aren’t delivering the same results they used to and that everyone they want to reach is on social media.

Employee advocacy helps sale improve win rates, closer larger deals, and increase their pipeline by 2x or more.

Human Resources:

HR is another interesting application of employee advocacy centered on talent acquisition, but also applies to employer branding.

For many companies talent acquisition is a constant battle. Competition is fierce, salaries for new hires are going up, and so are those recruiting fees.

Learn: How Atkins Global Used Employee Advocacy to Boost Social Recruiting

This is where employee advocacy comes into play: what if you could enlist all of your employees to not only promote your brand but also to help to recruit?

Plus, roughly 79% of job applicants use social media in their job search. (Source)

Communications:

Typically the communications team has both internal and external objectives.

Internally objectives can include better employee communication and engagement (with each other and the content). External objectives would be more along the lines of increased brand awareness and engagement (with the content that was shared by employees).

Learn: How Electronic Arts Used Employee Advocacy to Ignite Corporate Culture

But internally, employee advocacy helps keep employees more informed, increase in knowledge, and allow for commenting and feedback on content. This helps build a workplace community where employees will feel more connected and informed about their company.

Frontline:

Not all organizations will have employees just in an office or corporate environment. There are many deskless workers who are running the frontline of stores, might be on the road traveling, etc.

However, many frontline employees can feel disconnected from their employer and other colleagues. Additionally, frontline workers have the most interactions with customers and can share, connect, and engage with their colleagues about the important things going on.

Employee advocacy platforms allows frontline workers to be a part of the conversations, stay informed, and also build their professional networks as well.

Enterprise-Wide:

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that more companies are now exploring employee advocacy as an enterprise-wide initiative. While specific departments may use an employee advocacy platform to boost those results, imagine having 90-95% of employees (higher) also engaged and active.

Your company will be a well-informed and connected machine.

Extra: Considering a social employee advocacy program for various departments or even enterprise-wide at your company? To ensure you and your workforce is truly ready, you need an employee advocacy checklist that can help you answer some important questions.

Getting Buy-In For Employee Advocacy

Although social media in the workplace and employee advocacy has been around for a few years, getting budget and approval for a platform can still be challenging. When organizations make a program and strategy a priority, we’ve seen big ROI and cost-savings.

But generally for those who are new to it, it can be an unproven model that is intimidating and hard to put a decent budget towards. But in this section, you’ll learn about being prepared to get executive buy-in.

The Business Value of Employee Advocacy

First, it’s important to think about the value that employee advocacy programs can bring.For example, social media advertising costs are continually on the rise. Depending on your company size, you might be spending a few thousand each month or six-figures plus!

These ads become more competitive, expensive, and people are becoming increasingly immune to ads and engage less. Alternatively, the cost of an employee advocacy program can be 1/10th the cost of paid ads.

And there have been numerous studies that show people trust content and information from friends, colleagues, and family members over other forms of media (like ads).

On average, an employee advocacy program involving 1,000 active participants can generate $1,900,000 in advertising value. Plus, your results including cost-per-click, conversions, traffic, and social engagement will all be improved.

But conditional on your goals for employee advocacy, think about the pain points that an advocacy program will solve. Run the numbers, read case studies, and build your own case for the impact on ROI and cost savings it can have. After all, executives and management are all about the costs and the ultimate business impact.

This is just scratching the surface. Download our business justification guide to arm yourself with stats, data, and insights to build the case for a program and strategy at your organization.

Employee Network Reach

We also have to talk about employee network reach when it comes to building the case for employee advocacy. The costs, ROI, and other various data points are going to be the real strength to getting executive buy-in and truly selling a program in the beginning.

But another data point that is incredibly interesting, is the potential employee network reach that can impact your brand.

Even if you work for a well-known brand, there is still a massively untapped market of people that your company pages and ads just won’t reach. And it doesn’t feel forced or read like ad copy (as employees will not insincerely spam their own networks).

Think about the impact 1,000 employees active in your employee advocacy program can have. Let’s say they have an average of 1,500 social media connections. That’s a social reach of 1,500,000! For many organizations, that reach can be more than all the company social media accounts combined. We’ve seen it time and time again.

Be Prepared And Have A Plan

Getting buy-in will be about the results and the business outcome. It comes down to proving ROI and the impact it will have on the company. But another important piece to executive buy-in is to be extremely prepared and to have a plan.

Certainly you might not have any complete plan laid out immediately, but you want to check off all the boxes such that not only do you have the data and ROI, but you know your goals and how you’ll deploy your advocacy program.

Vendors should be active in this step as well, so keep an eye out for support even before you roll a program out. EveryoneSocial is happy to collaborate with you to identify your goals, KPI and ROI targets, and of course assist with deployment and every step of the way forward.

Goals

The use case for employee advocacy can be one goal (like for marketing), a combination, or maybe to go companywide to activate the entire business. Whatever the desired result, you need to have specific and defined goals for your executives.

Again, if a vendor is not willing or able to help discuss what your goals might be before deployment, then they might not be the supportive partner you want moving forward. That means knowing what they are, why they are important, and how you plan to track progress and report the results.

When you are presenting the case, speak to the language of whatever use case you are referring too. If it’s marketing for example, use terms like cost-per-click, brand reach, increasing lead volume, saving on paid advertising costs, etc.

Deployment Plan For Program

Another key item to have is your deployment plan, or how to get the program launched and activate employees.

Your vendor as mentioned earlier should be your partner. When it comes to getting approval, they should be willing to work with you on a deployment plan. At EveryoneSocial we have launched small and large deployments, so we will work with you on your deployment plan.

Every organization is different with their knowledge and understanding of social media. Aspects of a deployment plan can include a social media policy update, training and information sessions about a program, how you’ll get employees engaged, and more.

There is plenty more to understand with getting buy-in, budgeting, scaling, and adoption. We packaged this into a massive Buyer’s Guide that will be extremely helpful. Download your copy here.

Brands Using Employee Advocacy

There are many examples of brands successfully using an employee advocacy platform and strategy to improve their business. Some use employee advocacy for one or two specific use cases, where others focus more on company-wide efforts to impact multiple areas of the business.

Here are a few examples of employee advocacy done right:

Looking for more? We covered our top ten employee advocacy examples with detail about each approach and program.

Key Employee Advocacy Data

Nothing convinces people more as to the value of employee advocacy than data. We’ve written about this more in-depth here, but below we’ve pulled out some of the interesting stats we think you’ll benefit from knowing.

  • Close to half the world’s population (3.03 billion people) are on some type of social media. (Statusbrew)
  • 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicated that they use any form of social media, 78% among those ages 30 to 49, to 64% among those ages 50 to 64 (Pew Research Center)
  • 84% of people trust recommendations from friends, family, colleagues over other forms of marketing. (Nielsen)
  • Employees who participate in a social employee advocacy program organically grow their social networks by 10%+ per year. (EveryoneSocial)
  • 79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after the implementation of a formal employee advocacy program. 65% reported increased brand recognition. (Hinge Marketing)
  • An employee advocacy program costs 1/10 of paid advertising. (EveryoneSocial)
  • 73% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23 percent more often. (Aberdeen Group)
  • 80% believe their sales force would be more effective and efficient if they could leverage social media. (Sales Management Association)
  • 47% of referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies. (Jobvite)
  • Job seekers rank social media and professional networks as the most useful job search resource compared to job boards, job ads, recruiting agencies, and recruiting events. (CareerArc)
  • 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. (Trade Press Services)
  • When companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35%, the time employees spend searching for company information. (McKinsey)
  • 68% of Millennials visit employer’s social media properties specifically to evaluate the employer’s brand, 12% more than Gen-Xers and 20% more than Boomers. (CareerArc)
  • 76% of companies choose social media to communicate employer brand. (TalentLyft)

Looking for more employee advocacy stats? Get more for specific departments within our blog post here.

Additional Employee Advocacy Resources

Congratulations for making it this far in this in-depth guide on employee advocacy! Hopefully, you have learned a lot of the essentials and how valuable a program can be for your company.

If you are interested in starting a program at your company and getting a platform in place, our team is ready to show you more. Watch the video about our platform or schedule your demo here.

Lastly, before we complete this content, we thought it was worth sharing with you some additional resources and content that will be useful to expanding your employee advocacy knowledge.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does employee advocacy mean?

Employee advocacy simply means the promotion of a company by employees who share their support for a company’s brand, product, or services on their social networks. The goal of employee advocacy is to inform, educate and engage the workforce, customers, prospects, and help attract top talent.

How do you build employee advocacy?

Building employee advocacy starts with your work culture and brand. If employees do not feel trusted, believe in the product or company leaders, and see work transparency — building employee advocacy will be extremely challenging. But, if your culture is in a great spot and continues to be, encouraging employees to share online becomes more efficient and organic.

Why employees should use social media?

Participating in social media and employee advocacy provides opportunities for employees to communicate internally, but to also polish their professional profiles online, to grow their networks and personal brand, to better engage with their contacts, to develop meaningful relationships, and progress faster in their professional careers.

What is employee advocacy software?

Employee advocacy software enables organizations to engage their workforce with latest company news and share branded content and information via social media channels. With this software, companies can easily organize approved content or let employees suggest and create content to share via mobile, email, or social media.

How do you encourage employees to share on social media?

Your employees first have to understand the benefit sharing content to their social media networks has on the company and for themselves. It should be a two way street, where everyone involved is rewarded. Additional components include a simple social media policy, the right employee advocacy platform, and a company that motivates and helps them succeed.