If you’re thinking about starting an employee advocacy program for your company – or if you already have one going – here are 5 strategies to ensure your employee engagement program is a success.
An employee advocacy program can be just what your organization needs to get marketing content in front of new and existing customers. Only publishing content to your own branded channels isn’t enough to guarantee your target demographic sees your latest blog post or video. Usually, there simply isn’t enough budget to promote every single post you publish to every single social media channel. That’s why more businesses are turning to the power of their employees to share content and advocate on behalf of the company.
The Power of Employee Advocacy Marketing
Before we dive into tips and tactics for success, let’s set the stage for why employee advocacy is valuable in the first place! There are a host of facts and figures we can throw at you, but we’re going to stick with some of our favorites:
- Brand messages are re-shared 24-times more frequently when distributed by employees vs. the brand
- Content shared by employees receives 8-times more engagement than content shared by brand channels
- Customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate
- 64% of businesses with formal employee advocacy program also report a lift in revenue attributed to employee advocacy efforts and social selling
Content shared by employees has a greater opportunity to resonate with that employee’s social network than content shared by a brand or an organization. People are simply more likely to trust the message your employee shares, even if it’s the exact same message that your brand shared.
This is what makes employee advocacy such a powerful tool for your organization.
Five Best Practices for a Successful Employee Advocacy Program
1) Use a Pilot Program to Work Out the Kinks
As with any new process or system, to encourage a high adoption rate, the processes need to be road tested to work the kinks out before rolling it out to a larger audience. For an employee advocacy program, this means conducting a 60- to 90-day pilot program prior to opening it up to everyone.
Your pilot program can focus on a single department, business vertical, or a group of individuals. Whatever you choose, be sure that your employees understand the “Why” behind your advocacy program. Incorporate an incentive (more on that later) to help ensure their participation in the program. Once the pilot is complete, ask participants for their honest feedback to identify potential areas of confusion or weakness in strategy, imagery, or layout. After a successful pilot program, it’s time to roll out your employee advocacy efforts to your entire organization.
2) Recruit a Critical Mass of Employees
Speaking of rolling out the program to your whole company: successfully recruiting employees means exploring opportunities to guide as many of them as possible into the program. A single company-wide email isn’t going to cut it. Your recruitment efforts need to be omnipresent and hit multiple employees multiple times over multiple channels.
Send email on a regular, ongoing basis that reminds employees to join the program if they haven’t already. Include success stories and employee spotlights of those who have already joined the program. These messages help communicate the value of your employee advocacy program to the individual employees and serve as a reminder to join. Finally, be sure to incorporate your employee advocacy program into your on-boarding efforts. This will introduce employees to your program from Day 1.
3) Share Content that Speaks to Your Employees
A successful advocacy program isn’t just a megaphone for your company’s press releases. If all you do is share one type of content, you’re going to start to lose employee participation. Instead, be sure you’re using the program to send a mix of content that both speaks to potential customers as well as to the employee in the program. Ask your employees about the type of content they would be most excited to share. Some common topics for successful employee advocacy content include:
- Content that announces new positions or career opportunities
- Content that promotes company growth
- Content that focuses on the culture of the company
- Content that trains and inspires your employees
Remember, a successful employee advocacy program has to engage both the employee sharing the content and (potential) customer viewing it.
4) Incentivize Your Participants
If you want your employees to stay engaged throughout the life of the program, you’ll likely need to incentivize them in some way. You want your employees to continue to share even if they’re slammed to the gills with projects, deadlines, and deliverables. Your incentives don’t have to be too outlandish. Something as small as a $10 Starbucks card can help ensure that your employees are regular participants in your program.
Program incentives should be as on-brand to your organization as possible. As a start, consider the following as potential incentives:
- Branded merchandise (unique to the program)
- Unique experiences
- Free lunches
- Company perks like extra PTO, premium parking, etc.
- Public recognition in company memos, emails, etc.
Pro Tip: Use SocialToaster’s built-in survey feature to find out exactly what your participants want for prizing, allowing you to develop prizing that your Superfans can’t wait to share for.
5) Make the Program Easy to Participate In
By far, the greatest shared trait of successful employee advocacy programs is that they make participation simple. Your employees may only have a 5- or 10-minute window to do their social sharing. Asking those employees to create a post to share within that window of time, you’re going to have a high abandonment rate and is not realistic.
Luckily there are a variety of tools designed to make participation in an employee advocacy program easy as pie for the employee. SocialToaster was built on the foundational idea that participation in an advocacy program should be as easy as clicking a single button.
Our patented process allows your advocates to share in the click of a single button. Your program manager simply uploads the link, lead image, and accompanying text. SocialToaster creates a pre-built post which the manager sends to all members of the program via email asking them to share.
All your employees have to do is click the button in the email and they can easily share your content to their social networks.
Employee Engagement Programs Meet A Variety Of Business Needs
Whether you are building brand awareness, generating content engagement, or engaging in social selling, your employees are the perfect vessel for helping to ensure your content gets seen.
Ready to get started? Let one of our employee advocacy strategists help to launch your employee advocacy marketing program today – send us an email, request a free demo, or give us a call at 855.62.TOAST!