Employee advocacy is a marketing strategy that leverages your employees' networks to increase brand awareness and your branded content's organic reach.
In other words, employees share branded content and important company news with their social networks.
It's a highly effective strategy as brand's can significantly increase the reach of each piece of content (often by 2x, 5x, 10x, or more) without spending a dime on ads.
In addition, the impressions earned from employee advocacy are high quality because those who see the company content already know and trust the employees who shared it.
So, the brand gets a more high-quality reach with minimal additional effort.
However, not all employee advocacy programs are instant successes as there are plenty of nuanced challenges with turning your employees into effective brand advocates.
So to help you launch a formal employee advocacy program that is successful, here's a detailed step-by-step guide to employee advocacy.
To help you visualize employee advocacy, here's a high-level, hypothetical example of what it looks like:
Step 1: The manager publishes a post and alerts the employees to engage with it.
Step 2: The selected employees jump onto social media and engage with it (share, comment, like).
Step 3: The employee's followers see it and become familiar with the brand.
As you can see, this gives the brand free impressions, traffic, and even leads.
Employee advocacy is an effective method to increase brand awareness, drive high-quality leads, and even attract top talent. However, we realize that you have limited resources and it’s often not feasible to invest in every new social media tactic.
To show you why employee advocacy is a social media strategy worth prioritizing, here are a few employee advocacy statistics pulled from real GaggleAMP customers.
The average estimated earned media value (EEMV) of companies with less than 75 employees engaging in the employee advocacy program is $11,957 per year. For companies with more than 75 employees engaging in the employee advocacy program, the average estimated earned media value (EEMV) is $49,935.
For companies with 75 or fewer employees engaged in the employee advocacy program, the average total reach for a post is 2.9 million. For companies with more than 75 employees actively engaging in the employee advocacy program, the average total reach increases to 19.8 million.
Employee advocacy helps team members grow their personal brands and earn more followers which in turn gives them more power to amplify your brand message. In fact, for companies with 75 or fewer members in their employee advocacy program, each member had an average network growth of about 47% (or 127 people per member). For companies with more than 75 members in their employee advocacy program, the average growth per member was 84% (or 104 people per member).
The collective growth for companies with 75 members or fewer was 4,489 total people and the collective growth for companies with more than 75 members was 15,181 people.
Before jumping into the tactical steps of creating an employee advocacy strategy, here are a few key benefits of employee advocacy.
Traditional content distribution methods typically involve running ads to your content. While ads can produce a good ROI, you have to scale your budget (often at diminishing returns) to scale your reach.
In addition, as soon as you turn off the ads, the posts will immediately cease to achieve the same reach.
However, employee advocacy is more like a snowball.
First, employee advocacy can give you instant access to all of your employee's followers, which means you'll be able to 2x, 5x, 10x, etc., your post's reach without proportionately increasing ad spend.
In addition, social media algorithms are incentivized to give branded content less reach than personal accounts because:
They want brands to pay for reach
They don't want to flood their users with promotional content
So if your employees are posting the content to their personal account (or at least sharing the branded content from their personal account), it's more likely to get more organic reach than a typical branded post.
If you're relying on ads to distribute your content, the people seeing your ads are probably cold prospects (or if you're running remarketing ads, they may have seen your brand, but they don't have any personal connection to it).
On the other hand, all impressions achieved through employee advocacy are warm because the employee has already done the hard work of gaining the trust of their followers. So the quality of the average impression from employee advocacy is much higher than the average paid impression.
In fact, employee advocacy is like micro-influencer marketing – only you don't have to pay an influencer!
Finally, the ROI of employee advocacy is fairly immediate. Unlike SEO and other organic marketing tactics that take time to generate an ROI, employee advocacy produces fairly instantaneous results (i.e., as soon as your employee shares the post, your post gets more reach).
Building an employee advocacy strategy sounds pretty simple – just send a mass Slack message or email to your employees when you publish a new post that they should engage with it, right?
Well, we've found that sending mass messages tends to lead to low engagement rates as employees are busy enough with their own tasks that they don't want to:
Stop whatever they are working on (remember, they have high-value tasks too)
Log into their social media accounts
Scroll through endless branded posts and select one to engage with
Think of something insightful to say
…and repeat the process several times per week.
Over time, these mass messages become noisy, and people just ignore them.
Some managers try to solve this issue by sending individual Slack and email messages to key employees. While a personalized engagement request probably will yield a higher engagement rate, you'll soon find that it isn't scalable.
In addition, if employees do engage, you have no way of measuring the results, making it virtually impossible to optimize campaigns.
To solve this problem, GaggleAMP is an employee engagement platform that makes it super easy to send personalized engagement requests to individual employees or groups of employees in seconds. In addition, it provides detailed analytics with estimated earned media value (EEMV), total reach, engagement rates, and more.
So let's jump into a tactical step-by-step guide on how you can execute an employee advocacy strategy with GaggleAMP.
You can have the best content amplification strategy in the world, but if the content itself isn’t high quality, it probably won’t do very well (and, if a lot of people do see subpar content, that won’t leave a good first impression with your brand).
We interviewed several marketers with outstanding LinkedIn content strategies and asked them to outline how to create great social media content. While you can read that post for more detail, here are a few tips to help you consistently produce outstanding content.
The experts we interviewed mentioned that key company announcements tend to perform very well across all industries.
If you look at virtually any brand's social media account, you'll probably find that some of your brand's top-performing posts were announcements.
So whether you just raised a round or hired a new executive, be sure to take advantage of that opportunity and publicize it.
For example, CPaaS company Vonage announced an award they recently won, and the post generated over 200 likes and 29 shares.
Social media channels (including more professional platforms like LinkedIn) are, first and foremost, social. So if you want to develop an engaged audience, create relatable humanistic content.
To give you some inspiration, here are a few ways to come up with humanistic content ideas:
Write about an aspect of the founding story
Write about something you recently learned (or a recent experiment)
Write about something related to culture
Write about your opinion on a current event
GaggleAMP even offers a "Question" feature, where managers can assign a question (i.e., what is a recent experiment you ran in your work, and what did you learn from it?).
Video tends to perform well on social media as it tends to cause people to pause for at least a few seconds. However, plenty of brands with highly engaged followers post purely text-based content.
So the key is to experiment with different content formats and find what works best for your audience (and which kind of content you create consistently).
Regardless of what content format you choose to use, be sure to always post the content natively to each platform. For example, don't just share a link to a blog post. Instead, create a social post introducing the blog post's main idea and then include a link at the end.
Only a small percentage of your social media followers actually see your posts. So rather than constantly creating new content, look at your most successful evergreen posts and repost them again. Most of your audience has never seen it, and even if they did see it once, there's a very good chance that they have already forgotten it.
However, you can adjust the messaging or image if you don't want to repost it verbatim.
In addition, if you have a large piece of content, such as an ebook or a live stream, you can pull snippets from it and create a campaign using just those snippets.
While there isn't a single style of content that performs best for every brand, the key is to continue testing different content types, measure the results, and find a style that resonates with your audience.
We already discussed that sending mass Slack and email messages to your employees is typically a recipe for failure. So instead, consider using a tool like GaggleAMP that enables you to assign specific content to specific employees in minutes.
To get started, you can select an engagement activity.
Engagement activities define the engagement request (like, comment, share) and the social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). From there, paste the link to the social media post you want to amplify, and then add any additional notes.
For example, you can pre-write the text you want them to post so that all they have to do is approve it (pro tip: this is a great way to get busy executives to engage).
In addition to promoting branded content, consider building your executive's following and help them become recognized as thought leaders. Boosting your executives' following is helpful because:
People tend to trust other people more than brands, so having them post content directly to their profile will probably achieve more brand awareness and have more impact than just posting it to the company page
Social algorithms also tend to give personal profiles more reach than company profiles, so if an executive shares it directly with their network, it will probably get more organic reach
To help executives create great thought leadership content, consider using the Question engagement activity in GaggleAMP and ask them to write their thoughts on a recent industry event.
Once you've created an engagement activity, you can assign it to either a group of employees (such as the sales teams, executives, etc.) or cherry-pick a handful of team members.
GaggleAMP even shows you detailed follower and engagement statistics so you can match the best posts with the best employees. For example, you can assign LinkedIn posts to employees with a stronger LinkedIn presence and Twitter posts to employees with a stronger Twitter presence.
Once you assign the posts, employees will receive a notification via either Slack, Microsoft Teams, or email that they have a new engagement activity. (Note that you can customize notifications to send immediately or at a set schedule. This is ideal if you send a lot of engagement activities and don't want the notifications to become noisy).
The success of your employee advocacy program depends entirely on how much buy-in you get from your employees. So while GaggleAMP makes it easy for you to assign posts, we really designed the platform to eliminate as much friction as possible for employees.
So here's an overview of how it works from the employee's perspective.
After receiving a notification, employees can enter their personalized Gaggle. Inside the Gaggle, they will see a handful of assigned posts with engagement instructions (like, comment, share, and any notes you may have chosen to add).
GaggleAMP is the only employee advocacy platform that provides employees with a personalized, curated list of specific engagement activities. We’re not a content library that leaves the guess work up to your employees.
Most employee advocacy platforms are structured as massive content feeds with all of the brand's social media posts. Then, the employee has the burden of selecting a post and deciding how to interact (like, comment, share).
While this may seem like a small difference, many employees become paralyzed at this stage (What post should I select? Is it okay if I say this?). By providing the employee with just a handful of posts and specific instructions, GaggleAMP users have excellent participation rates.
In addition, employees can execute the engagement activity (like, comment, share) directly inside the Gaggle and publish it immediately or schedule it to go live at a later date/time.
This way, they never have to log in to their social media channels (which can be annoying if they don't want to get distracted).
In addition, because employees can schedule their posts to go live throughout the week, they only have to devote a few minutes per week to your advocacy program instead of constantly posting throughout the week.
After running a campaign, GaggleAMP will provide you with these KPIs:
EEMV (estimated earned media value)
Number of shares
Number of clicks
With these metrics, you'll be able to see what kind of content resonates the most with your target audience. You can then iterate on those ideas and create similar content, or even repost the top performing content.
Employee advocacy is also a powerful social selling tool. So you can also collaborate with your salespeople to identify which campaigns were most successful at generating leads.
Finally, one of the key reasons employees don't participate in employee advocacy programs is that nobody will even know if they performed the engagement request – so they have no incentive to participate.
GaggleAMP solves this problem by showing a public leaderboard of the most engaged employees.
This leaderboard scores employees based on how many points they have earned (managers can assign points to each engagement activity, which employees earn after completing the activities).
This gamification element makes it more fun, and you can award a prize, like a gift card or small bonus, to the most engaged employee.
Even if employees don't win, this creates some accountability and makes people feel as though their hard work was at least recognized. In addition, managers can reach out to those that are disengaged and offer additional support.
We've also found that employee advocacy can help improve company culture and retention as engaged employees tend to be happier.
While GaggleAMP is our own tool, we built it because we couldn't find an employee advocacy tool on the market that solved all of our own problems.
In fact, we found that the average employee engagement rate is 50% in companies without employee advocacy strategies. However, these numbers were significantly higher for GaggleAMP customers.
For companies with 75 or fewer employees enrolled in the employee advocacy program, 82% of them actively engage with company content and share branded messages. For companies with more than 75 employees enrolled in the employee advocacy program, 68% actively engage with company content.
While you've already briefly seen how it works, here are a few of the key benefits of GaggleAMP.
Or, if you'd rather try the platform yourself, you can sign up for a free trial today.
Sending individual requests to employees to engage typically produces a much higher participation rate than just sending a mass Slack or email message.
However, this also means that you're spending hours sending these messages.
GaggleAMP enables you to send personalized engagement requests to specific employees (either by selecting a group of employees or cherry-picking employees) at scale.
This helps your participation rate stay high without requiring you to spend hours and hours sending personalized messages.
Your employee advocacy program's success depends entirely on your employees' participation. So we built GaggleAMP not only to be easy for managers to navigate but also to remove friction for employees.
Specifically, there are a few key friction points that we've found typically stop employees from participating in employee advocacy programs:
They don't know which posts they should engage with
They're afraid that they'll say something off-brand
Nobody recognizes them for engaging
GaggleAMP is designed to solve these problems. First, rather than structuring the interface as a massive list of all of your brand's social media posts, GaggleAMP only shows employees the handful of activities you've selected for them.
This way, they don't have to select a post to engage with, and you can even pre-write text for them so that they never worry about saying something that isn't in line with your social media policy.
In addition, you can add a deadline for each engagement activity. Once that deadline passes, the post will disappear from their Gaggle (regardless of whether they completed it). This is beneficial because too many assignments can make employees feel overwhelmed and cause them to just never log into the Gaggle.
Rather than just guessing which post formats, ideas, and employees drive the most engagement, GaggleAMP provides detailed engagement data so that you can optimize future campaigns.
Specifically, GaggleAMP will show you:
EEMV (employee earned media value)
Number of shares
Number of clicks
This way, you can iterate on ideas that work to improve future campaigns.
Using the step by step process outlined in this post, you have all the information you need to implement a successful employee advocacy program.
While you can try to implement an employee advocacy program without software, you’ll probably find it inefficient and frustrating.
So to help employees become effective brand ambassadors (and improve their own personal brands!) in just a few minutes per week, sign up for a free trial of GaggleAMP today.