Have you considered including your employee network in your marketing plan? Many businesses overlook this step; we draft marketing plans that include social media, email, website or advertising without considering one of our most effective marketing resources – our employees.
These individuals can be one of your greatest untapped resources – in fact, LinkedIn’s research found that, on average, your employees have a network that is 10 times larger than your company’s follower base. Additionally, while only about 3% of employees share content about their company, those shares are responsible for driving a 30% increase a company’s total engagement.
Employees already understand the business’ offerings, value proposition and customers; they each have their own network that knows and trusts them; and numerous studies show that we trust recommendations we hear from our friends, family or influencers over brand messaging.
The result? Successfully activating your employees as advocates can positively impact your marketing, sales and recruiting efforts. Potential benefits f department include:
Marketing: Increased followers, views and engagement on social posts, social profile views, and website traffic.
Sales: Nurture customers and prospects in your salespeoples’ networks, position sellers as experts and partners, drive more leads.
Recruiting: Elevate the employer brand, increase job views and applications, drive quality hires.
But how do we turn our employees into successful advocates?
Step 1: Educate your employees
Help your employees understand the purpose and benefits of the initiative before asking anything of them. We’re all more eager to be part of something when we understand the “why” behind it, and more comfortable when we know what’s expected of us.
You can start by defining a social media policy that lays out what’s OK (or not) for your employees to share on social media to help them feel comfortable and secure in what they’re sharing. Consider training your employees over a lunch ‘n’ learn, Zoom call or team meeting on these guidelines and recommendations for using social media.
Most importantly, let employees know what’s in it for them. Their engagement can help grow their own professional networks, establish them as a leader, positively impact the business and even help them drive leads and sales to achieve their goals.
Step 2: Create an employee social media kit
Help employees spruce up their social channels and best reflect your brand. This kit might include social media cover images, instruction on how employees can list your business as their employer, and a blurb they can use to describe their role and your company on their profile.
Ensure you provide this to all existing employees and wrap it into your onboarding process for future employees. And of course, remind employees to follow your brand on any of your social channels!
Step 3: Content distribution plan
Making it as easy as possible for employees to share content is an essential key to success. You can provide employees with pre-written social media messages, links and images that they can copy and paste across social channels. If LinkedIn is part of your strategy, each time you publish a LinkedIn post you can click “notify employees” on that post, or you can use the “recommend to employees” function. If you’re interested in automation and using a tool, consider looking into employee advocacy tools like Everyone Social, SocialHP, HootSuite Amplify or Bambu, among others.
Step 4: Recognition program
Incentivize employees to be part of this by providing recognition or prizes. This can be as simple as providing praise for or prizes for actively engaged employees during team meetings, on an internal site or company newsletters.
Step 5: Measure results
Before kicking off the initiative, consider which metrics you want to measure. As the program rolls out, you may want to consider the number of employees participating, follower growth, messaging reach or engagement, social media website referral traffic, correlated leads, the percentage of new hires from referrals, and more.
Lastly, make sure you are continually evaluating what is/isn’t working and providing ongoing training to employees to improve the process.
What successes have you seen from employee advocacy programs?
Devon Gardner is the founder and CEO of Devon Victoria Consulting, Inc., a boutique social media consultancy located in Denver, CO, helping businesses reach their ideal audience online.