Digital Marketing

Employee Advocacy Best Practices: How to Get Started

Did you know that your employees can be your biggest advocates?

Not surprisingly, an increasing number of businesses are looking to adopt employee advocacy best practices to boost their brand’s visibility, leads, and conversions.

As you might’ve guessed, employee advocacy is when employees become your ambassadors and promote it to their connections on various social media channels.

Employee advocacy can take many forms, but typically includes things like sharing company news, blog posts, or other relevant content with the employees’ personal networks.

It’s a strategic and cost-effective way for companies to amplify their reach and improve their employer brand.

However, as it is with most things in life, planning is the key to acing your employee advocacy program.

This is why it is important to adopt the best practices of employee advocacy.

But before talking about employee advocacy best practices, let’s see what its benefits are.

Benefits of Employee Advocacy

Let’s look at some numbers that can help showcase the benefits of employee advocacy.

Boost Your Reach

With over 302 million active social media users in the US, you can see the immense potential of a well-crafted employee advocacy program to reach your target audience.

Image via Statista

This means, you can reach more people and spread brand awareness in a cost-effective way if you create an advocacy strategy based on best practices.

Build Trust And Loyalty

Studies show the trust consumers place in advertisements is declining at a steady pace. According to a 2020 survey conducted by Kantar, 54% of consumers believe targeted ads are intrusive.

What’s more?

About 63% of them are concerned that businesses (and governments) deliberately mislead them by making gross exaggerations, according to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer report.

Image via Edelman Trust Barometer Report

So, who do they trust?

According to Kantar’s report, 93% of people trust their friends and family for brand information.

Since the promotion is done by your employees, employee advocacy becomes a trusted and effective form of marketing if you follow the best practices.

Increase Leads and Sales

Unlike a business, employees would be connected to people they know on social media. This makes their audience more receptive to their posts.

A LinkedIn research shows that total engagement with a brand goes up by 30% even if only 3% of their employees share its content.

Freshworks, for instance, generated 515 leads and boosted its social selling index in just four months by adopting employee advocacy best practices.

Boost Employee Engagement

By adopting the best practices for employee advocacy, you can ensure employees have a better understanding of their company’s goals and direction. Most importantly, they’ll feel valued and connected to their company’s vision.

The result of these best practices: Happy employees and improved brand health, as this Hootsuite study shows.

Image via Hootsuite

So, if you adopt the best practices to design your employee advocacy program, it can also be a powerful tool for recruiting and retaining top talent.

Save Costs

Make no mistake. Social media advertising is getting costlier.

For example, here are the average costs you would incur on Instagram for ads:

Image via WebFx

That’s not all.

According to an estimate, a small or medium-sized business, on average, spends between $1,000 to $10,000 on Google Ads campaigns each month.

By following employee advocacy best practices, it’s possible to reduce your marketing costs as getting your employees to talk about your brand costs next to nothing.

These stats must have now convinced you of the benefits of employee advocacy best practices.

So, let’s take a look at the best ones.

Employee Advocacy Best Practices

By adopting these employee advocacy best practices, you can ensure a buy-in for your program and its sustained success.

1. Create a Positive Culture

The first among the eight best practices is to create a culture in the workplace where everyone feels supported and valued. A positive company culture is the foundation for employee engagement.

A Gallup study shows that when employees are happy and engaged, they:

  • Go the extra mile when needed
  • Help out colleagues
  • Seek learning opportunities and extra responsibilities
  • Are more productive

Needless to say, engaged employees are more likely to enthusiastically participate in your employee advocacy initiatives.

So, how to boost employee engagement?

According to Gallup, these are the drivers of employee engagement:

Image via Gallup

Here are some best practices to create a positive company culture and boost employee engagement:

  • Encourage open communication
  • Make sure employees know their work matters
  • Create a positive work environment
  • Reinforce values with ongoing communication and training sessions

2. Establish Employee Advocacy Goals and KPIs

Establishing goals is one of the most important employee advocacy best practices.

Your goals could be related to any of the following:

Department Goals
Marketing Boost social media reach by 25%

 

Increase organic traffic by 40%

 

Gain 50% more leads

 

Boost social media engagement (likes, shares, comments) by X%

Sales Boost conversions by X%

 

Increase monthly revenue by X%

 

Achieve a social media ROI of X%

 

Reduce customer acquisition costs by X%

Human Resources Boost the reach of job ads by X%

 

Boost referrals and traffic to career site by X%

 

Gain X% more qualified job applicants

 

Reduce turnover by X%

 

Increase employee engagement

 

Boost participation in social advocacy programs

While on the topic of employee advocacy best practices, we can’t ignore the importance of making a list of the metrics that will help you measure and track your goals.

These include:

  • Number of participants
  • Number of social media posts per week/month
  • Number of comments, impressions, likes, shares
  • Total reach
  • Which employees are posting the most?
  • Number of leads, conversions, and sales
  • Brand mentions and sentiment
  • Social media advocacy program ROI

Image via EveryoneSocial

3. Create a Social Media Policy

The next best practice in this post relates to having well-defined rules and guidelines for social media advocacy programs.

Here are a few tips on creating social media guidelines and best practices:

  • Define the do’s and don'ts: List the things employees can and can’t do on social media.
  • Provide guidelines on brand style: Your employees should know about branded hashtag, company logo, brand colors, tone of voice, and links to use.
  • Seek input: Before finalizing the rules, seek input from employees who will be participating in the program.

Look at how Intel has specified the best practices for social engagement for its employees:

Image via Intel

4. Identify the Right Advocates

If you can spot employees who are:

  • Already engaged with your brand
  • Usually passionate about their work and always looking for ways to improve the company
  • Have a strong social media presence and connections
  • Respected by their peers
  • Love taking up PR activities

…you already have your best brand advocates.

But, what if you can’t identify such employees?

The best way to find your advocates is to use an anonymous survey tool and ask them:

  • What social media platforms they use
  • How frequently they use them
  • How many followers they have on different social platforms
  • How they engage on social channels (do they skim content, engage with others’ content, or create content?)
  • If they are willing to become your company’s brand advocates

Be sure to explain what your objective is for starting such a program and what benefits or incentives are available to employees who join the program.

By now, you may have a list of employees who are willing to participate.

Now, go ahead and create content for them to share.

Note: If most people say that someone else should do it, then maybe it's time for the leadership to look into the reasons why no one is willing to promote your company.

5. Create Engaging Content

What does “engaging content” really mean?

One way to define it is to say that it’s the content that your audience wants to read.

Apart from focusing on the quality and relevance of your content, you need to pay attention to its format as well.

A 2021 study reveals that engaging content:

  • Is relevant to your employee’s social network
  • Instantly catches the attention of your target audience
  • Offers something valuable and provides a unique perspective
  • Is click-worthy and starts social conversations
  • Is not click-bait

The same study found that out of the top-performing content posted by employee advocates:

  • 92% included an image
  • 43% had human photos
  • 10% had a video
  • 10% had a CTA
  • 61% had no text overlay in videos

An important component of employee advocacy best practices is to get your content strategy right.

Here are some best practices to fine-tune your content strategy:

  • Find out which social platforms have the most reach and engagement in your industry or niche.
  • List the social platforms where your employee advocates have a strong presence.
  • Find the best time to post on different platforms. According to a HubSpot survey, the best time to post is from 3 PM to 9 PM across industries. The best days are Saturdays, in particular, and weekends in general.

Image via HubSpot

  • Create interesting content that features company news, employee accomplishments or recognition, new hires, and humor.

These are, in fact, the posts that generated the most comments and conversations according to a survey.

For instance, Derrick Meer, the Executive Strategist at Aloe Group, a logistics company, promotes his company’s synergistic approach with this LinkedIn post:

Image via LinkedIn

Starbucks has dedicated a page for its employees to share news and fun stories.

Image via Instagram

It doesn’t have to always be about the brand or new hires. Dunkin Donuts encourages its employees to regularly post content that’s not about the brand.

Image via Instagram

  • Get the balance right by mixing up different types and formats of content. LinkedIn’s research recommends a 4:1:1 ratio where:
    • 1 piece of content is about your brand
    • 1 is an industry update
    • 4 pieces of content from trusted third-party sources

6. Use the Right Employee Advocacy Platforms and Tools

You've followed employee advocacy best practices by identifying your goals, knowing your audience, and creating a content strategy. Now it's time to choose the right platforms.

Needless to say, you need to make it easy for employees to share content on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

However, to make the most out of your employee advocacy program, you need to have the right tools and platforms in place that allow you to create content, promote it, and track the results.

Luckily, there are plenty of great options to choose from, depending on your company's needs.

LinkedIn Elevate: This is a paid service from LinkedIn that allows companies to create an employee advocacy program.

You can create custom groups and pages for your employees, as well as post updates and content that can be seen by all members of their network.

Hootsuite Amplify: With Amplify, your employees can automatically post and track content, while measuring engagement. There is a library of content to help you plan and execute your social media campaigns.

PostBeyond: The popular employee advocacy platform allows you to easily post updates, articles, and other content to your company's social media accounts.

Apart from a built-in recognition system, it makes it easy to onboard new employees and provide them with relevant content.

What’s more?

Apart from choosing the right employee advocacy tool, you should also identify which channels are ideal for you to reach your target audience.

For example, if you're looking to reach professionals and executives, LinkedIn may be the best platform.

If you want to build brand awareness through videos, YouTube is the ideal platform.

Here’s a guide you can use.

Image via Wordstream

Once you determine the tools, platforms, and the content you are going to use, ensure you train your employees on all aspects of employee advocacy to get started.

7. Motivate Your Employees with Rewards And Recognition

When you implement an employee advocacy program, one of the best practices to adopt is to engage your workforce to get onboard through extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards.

These rewards are often what drives employees to opt into an advocacy and social selling program in the first place.

The reward can be as simple as a social media shoutout for a birthday or work anniversary. See how Starbucks does it:

Image via Instagram

These rewards can also appear in the form of bonuses, vacations, tickets to events, gift cards, and other tangible rewards.

One of the most useful employee advocacy best practices, rewards provide a sense of healthy competition among teams, encouraging employees to put their best efforts forward. They also motivate employees to work harder.

A word of caution here:

Putting too much emphasis on rewards and incentives can backfire.

If your staff becomes fixated on large rewards, they might start becoming more focused on results than doing advocacy right.

Be sure to let your employees know that employee advocacy has its intrinsic value in terms of:

  • Helping them build their personal brand
  • Expanding their network
  • Transforming them to thought leaders
  • Increasing conversations

When employees realize the importance of strengthening their personal brand and connections, they are more likely to sustain their employee advocacy efforts.

8. Track Your Results

The next employee advocacy best practice is to track the results of your employee advocacy strategy.

Most social media platforms allow you to track data such as clicks, likes, impressions, views, and leads.

Tools such as Hootsuite’s Amplify or LinkedIn Elevate also provide detailed analytics on your employee advocacy programs. These tools offer insights on:

  • User adoption, which allows you to see the number of employees who are participating in the employee advocacy program
  • A comparison of the employees’ posts by topic, reach, social network, etc.
  • Specific engagement metrics on each social media platform

Image via Hootsuite

FAQs

Q1. What is an example of employee advocacy?

A. Employee advocacy is when employees use their personal social media accounts to promote their company's products or services.

This can be done in a number of ways, such as sharing company related content, writing positive reviews, or simply talking about their company in a positive light.

To guarantee its success, you’ll need to adopt employee advocacy best practices.

Q2. What is the most important aspect of employee advocacy?

A. There are many best practices of employee advocacy to consider, but the most important one is employee engagement.

Advocacy programs are only successful if employees are actually engaged with the program and are willing to promote the company’s message.

Q3. How do you build employee advocacy?

A. The first step is to identify your company's core values and what you want your employees to advocate for.

Then, you need to find the right advocates and create content that is shareable. Give your employees the tools and resources they need to be successful advocates. Finally, leverage best practices to drive advocacy further.

Q4. How can employee advocacy be improved?

A. You can improve employee advocacy by incorporation employee advocacy best practices like:

  • First, refine your employee advocacy strategy by adopting the best practices listed here.
  • Ensure employees understand the company's mission and values.
  • Create an environment that promotes trust and engagement.
  • Provide employees with training and resources on how to effectively advocate for the brand.
  • Offer incentives for employees who participate in advocacy programs.

Q5. What are the benefits of employee advocacy?

A. By following employee advocacy best practices, you can:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Generate more leads and drive conversions
  • Save on social media marketing costs
  • Boost collaboration and team spirit

Start Using These Employee Advocacy Best Practices

To build a successful employee advocacy program, you’ll need to adopt these best practices mentioned above. This is the key way to build a strong culture of collaboration and commitment within your organization.

It is also a long-term strategy, so you'll need to keep an eye on the results of your efforts. If you see a dip in performance, take action by reviewing employee feedback and making changes to your strategy where necessary.

On the other hand, if you see a jump in performance from your employees—or even just one person—take action to celebrate this win and encourage employees who might be feeling hesitant to promote your company.

By teaching employees how to advocate for themselves and their colleagues, you can set them up for success in the long term—and they’ll be happy to help you along the way!

Have any questions about the best practices for employee advocacy mentioned above? Ask them in the comments below.

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav Sharma is the Founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic | 5K keywords on page 1. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business2Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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