Used well, employee advocacy can give your digital marketing process a significant boost. But there are some key challenges to implementing an effective EA program, and elements you need to be aware of when building out your strategy.
To get a better understanding of this, and provide a comparative measure of how brands are utilizing the option, we recently partnered with GaggleAMP to conduct a survey among the Social Media Today community. Over 400 marketers responded, giving us an indicative pool to highlight the current trends and future opportunities of the process.
You can download our full 2019 State of Employee Advocacy report here, but this week, we're going to break down the specific elements and findings to give you an overview of the responses we received.
You can check out the first summary of our findings here.
Part 2: Opportunities and Benefits of Employee Advocacy
With a handle on the scale at which employee advocacy is being adopted, we wanted to dig a bit further into the specifics. What’s working for brands that do have an EA program, and how can businesses maximize the ROI of their own strategy, if they are to take the leap?
First off, we asked respondents which types of incentives delivered the best response for their programs.
Internal recognition – whether through broad shout-outs, promotion of posts on branded social channels or positive recognition from peers – were the most effective incentive highlighted, with others falling well behind based on respondent data.
As you can see here, monetary incentives were considered far less effective. Offering your staff a bonus for, say, getting a certain amount of likes or shares on a post which promotes the company is probably not the best way to go, while compulsory sharing programs, which place an expectation on staff to post company-related content, are also, seemingly, less effective.
The latter is probably one of the more common EA missteps – how many times have you seen someone post a generic update/promotion related to their company, with little personal flair, attachment or emotion in that messaging? That gets even worse when you see the exact same update shared by another employee from the same company – we’ll go out on a limb and say that any compulsory sharing initiative of this type, which overlooks the value of personal input in social media updates, is a major fail in employee advocacy.
If you have to force your employees to share your brand messaging, maybe there are some other issues you need to address.
This was also touched upon in another element in our survey, which looked at how employees find and share branded content to share on their social profiles.
As you can see, a key issue with current employee advocacy programs is that staff often don’t feel empowered to share brand-related content, whether that’s being able to find the latest updates/content to post, or feeling overly confident in what they’re allowed to share.
More than 39% of respondents indicated that they’re not being adequately trained on how to find and share brand or business-related updates, while only 35% indicated that they feel confident in what they can say.
This underlines the need for further investment in a dedicated EA strategy – if your staff don’t even know what to share, you can’t expect to see any benefit at all from this approach.
Brands need to educate their staff on the benefits of sharing – and not just in terms of how the company itself will benefit from such, but also how each individual can build their own professional profile by sharing their opinions and expertise on their social channels, helping to maximize engagement and exposure.
To facilitate this, your company needs to not only be creating its own content, but also be creating content that engages your staff enough to want to talk about it, and to want to share such on their personal channels. Providing them with guidance on how to do this, and ensuring that they’re clear on what they can say on behalf of the company, will improve your EA results significantly, as evident by these findings.
That’s also a key aspect of this next element of our survey.
Note here that it’s not that people don’t believe in their own knowledge or expertise, it’s that they either don’t want to say the wrong thing, they’re not engaged enough in their own industry, or – the biggest factor – they don’t want to spam their friends with their work-related content.
That makes perfect sense – you don’t want to be that person who’s always sharing the latest "awesome deals" from his or her company. But an effective employee advocacy approach takes this into consideration – you need content that’s engaging, not just "our company is the best, buy from us" type promos.
What does your company do that impacts people’s daily lives in a positive way? What do people want to hear about, that would actually impact, and benefit, them if they knew about it?
If you can engage your employees first, by highlighting the importance of what it is you do – and why you do it – you’ll stand a better chance of engaging their connections through the same.
Employees need to know what they can say, that you want them to be sharing where they can, empowering them to do so. But also, it has to be applicable. Social media is not designed as an ad platform, it’s built for connecting, and sharing relevant, informative updates. If your business content is purely promotional, it’s likely not built for an advocacy program.
This is a summary of just one element of our 2019 Employee Advocacy report, which you can download in full here. We'll be covering additional aspects of our findings throughout this week.
The 2019 Social Media Today Employee Advocacy Survey was conducted between July and August 2019, incorporating responses from 402 total participants. Of those respondents, 54% indicated that they work for a B2B organization, while 29% indicated that they work for a B2C brand.