Picture this: your B2B brand invests people-hours and capital into producing a new piece of marketing content, only have the collective viewership of said content amount to a handful of site visitors. Pretty frustrating right? At this point, most teams start reaching for that shiny LinkedIn “Sponsored Post” button. However, a more cost-effective, more engaging solution that not only helped to amplify your content but also helped to position your content as a “must read” in the minds of your audience is available – Employee Advocacy.
If you don’t have an employee advocacy program yet, no sweat. In this blog, we’ll break down the steps your brand can take to launch an employee advocacy program in a matter of weeks.
Why Should B2B Brands Lean On Their Employees to Share Content?
Most B2B brands lie to themselves on a regular basis. It’s sad but true. They tell themselves things like:
“My business isn’t sexy. No one is going to care about the content we would write.”
“It’s easy for big consumer brands to get wide exposure, but my industry is too technical.”
“No one cares what happens in insert B2B industry X.”
And sure, they’re right. Millions of people probably won’t engage with their company the same way they do with their favorite brand of mac n’ cheese. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a significant group of people ready to dive into your perspective, insight, or content.
If that were true, you wouldn’t have customers.
Your audience is ready to engage with your content; they only need to see it. That’s where your employees can help
Your employees have a vested stake in the success of your B2B brand. Your brand’s success is their success. This makes them an ideal resource for sharing and amplifying your B2B content.
An employee advocacy program is a formalized, structured program that empowers, encourages, and entices your employees to share your branded content – and it comes with a host of benefits.
The Power of Employee Advocacy & Employee-Shared Content
Content shared by your employees resonates with its target audience on a deeper level than content shared by your branded social platforms. When your audience sees content shared by another individual, they’re more likely to stop their scrolling and engage with that post.
- Content shared by employees receives 8-times more engagement than content shared by brand channels
- Brand messages are re-shared 24-times more frequently when amplified by employees vs. the brand
- Customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate
And while engagement, sharing, and consumption metrics are important, revenue and ROI is the true marker of any marketing initiative.
- 64% of businesses that have a structured employee advocacy program also report a lift in revenue that can be attributed to employee advocacy efforts and social selling
That’s right – not only does an employee advocacy program help ensure your content is seen, it can also drive sales and revenue.
Ready to get started? Here we go.
How To Launch A B2B Employee Advocacy Program
Step 1: Have a Solid Content Production Plan
If you’re only producing one or two blog posts a year, then your advocacy marketing efforts are going to fall flat. Successful employee advocacy programs all have one aspect in common: a steady stream of content to share.
The more consistently your employees are sharing your content:
- The more their participation in the program becomes a habit and part of their weekly routine
- The greater your overall share of voice in the market
- The more branded impressions your company is earning
- The greater the chance a potential customer is to see a piece of your marketing collateral.
- The more opportunities you create to drive sales and increase revenue.
At a minimum, if your employees would have the opportunity to share 3 – 4 pieces of content on a monthly basis, then you should have an employee advocacy program.
Step 2: Choose a Dedicated Support Tool
Sure, you can try to manage this program effort through gentle email reminders, Slack chats, and spreadsheets, but that methodology will only get you so far. If you want to take your employee advocacy efforts to the next level, invest in the right support tool.
A proper employee advocacy marketing tool (ahem, SocialToaster), can streamline your advocacy marketing efforts.
Our platform makes it easy for your employees to share your branded content while also providing your program managers with the tools they need to measure the impact and participation rate of your program.
Try doing that with a spreadsheet.
Step 3: Determine an Incentive
If you want to take your program participation rate to the next level, add in an incentive. After all, your employees are sharing their social networks (and their work efforts) with your company. They deserve a little something for that extra time and energy invested.
Incentives don’t have to be outrageous. Some of the most successful employee advocacy rewards we’ve seen include:
- Branded swag
- Free lunches
- Extra time off
- Gift cards
- Bragging rights
Having a program incentive helps to communicate not only the value of being part of these employee advocacy efforts, but it also communicates your gratitude to your participating employees.
Step 4: Set Up a Pilot Employee Advocacy Program
You’ve got the content, the tool, and the incentive, now it’s time to start testing your program.
Start by setting up a cross-team pilot program. Your pilot team should be a fraction of the size of your employee organization (10% – 20%) and should represent various departments, technical savvy, and demographics.
Train this pilot program on the program. Be sure to include in the training a clear understanding of why this program is important and also what’s in it for them if they participate in the program.
Run your pilot for a month or two and regular solicit your participants on their experience. Be sure to make tweaks and changes along the way. Your goal at this point is to learn and correct any issues with your program in order to increase your program adoption and participation rates.
Step 5: Rollout Your Program To Your Entire Organization
Once you’ve tested your program and shorn up any kinks, the next step is to roll out your program to your entire organization. As with your pilot program, be sure that communicate the macro benefit of the program, why your employees should want to participate, and what is in it for them (the incentive) if they’re active in the program.
Step 6: Iterate. Refine. Repeat.
Now that your program is launched, the real work can start!
Keep your program fresh, exciting, and pumping out great content, by identifying opportunities to iterate and refine your employee advocacy efforts.
Even the smallest improvements can add up to huge wins over time.
5 Ways You Can Reward Your Staff for Participating in Your Advocacy Program
Today’s 2021 employees need more than just a no-name water bottle with your company logo on it (they want a Hydroflask) or a single day off to encourage them to participate in your employee advocacy program.
The longer your employee advocacy program is in observation, the more likely it is that you’ll need to tweak and refine your rewards to recognize better the heavy lifting your staff is doing to advocate for your brand. These are some hot new ways you can reward your employees in ways they’re going to love.
1. Concert/Festival Tickets
Live music is back, baby! And there’s no better incentive than a 3-day music festival pass or hot concert ticket to drive employee participation. VIP tickets and weekend passes can get pricey, so reserve these rewards for your top advocates. Festival passes and concert tickets are also a great way to show your staff that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of their interests.
2. Spa Days
Who doesn’t love a good massage or relaxing facial? Whether you send 1-3 of your top advocates out to have a massage at a local spa or bring in a chair masseuse to treat your office, spa days take your rewards program to a new level. You can make it extra special by including add-ons like scalp massages, mani/pedis, or hot stone massages!
3. Cold, Hard Cash
There is no greater incentive than cold, hard cash. Don’t let people try to tell you cash is impersonal or tacky. It’s not. Cash is king, and a few blue-face, Ben Franklins inside a Thank You card is a small price to pay for your hardest-working advocates.
4. Paid Vacation
Ok, they probably already have PTO but do you pay for their vacation when they go somewhere? Probably not! Who wouldn’t want an all-expense or part-expense paid trip to somewhere tropical or new? A paid vacation to a resort or new city could be the motivation your employees need to step up their advocacy efforts.
5. Attend a Conference of Their Choice
Cultivating and supporting your employees’ ambitions and dreams is one of the best ways to build up your staff and encourage program participation. Paying for your top advocates to attend a conference of their choice rewards not only them but your business as well. It’s a prize that’s a win-win for everyone.
Ready to Get Started?
We’re smack in the middle of Q2, which means that now’s the perfect time to start your B2B employee advocacy program. In just a few short weeks, your team can launch their efforts and start sharing your branded content with current and potential customers alike. Invest now in your advocacy efforts to drive sales through the end of 2019 and beyond.
Need help? Have questions? Want to dive in a bit deeper and get specific on how employee advocacy can benefit your business? We’re here to help. Give us a call at 443.393.2600 or email us to schedule a free SocialToaster demo.