You’ve started an employee advocacy program, or you’re thinking of starting one in 2024.
The impact of employees becoming active on social media is huge.
Especially on LinkedIn.
But you already know this.
You’re now wondering how to make the most from your employee advocacy program to really max out this thing, while getting your team enthusiastic about participating.
After years of experience in the employee advocacy space, we know a thing or two about creating the best possible experience for your business and your employees.
Here are 10 employee advocacy best practices to get you on the right track!
1. Onboard Strategically
When you’re just starting out with employee advocacy, it’s essential to be strategic with who you invite to participate.
Once your advocacy program grows, by all means invite every employee in your organization, but initially, focus on those who will see an impact almost immediately.
I’m talking about your marketing and sales teams, HR / employer branding, and of course, the C-Suite.
You could simply send an invite to every employee in these departments, but you’re likely to see a higher adoption rate if you approach department heads/managers first.
Explain the benefits of employee advocacy both for your organization, their individual department KPIs, and the employees themselves.
The reason is simple: your sales team, for example, are more likely to start sharing content on social media if their department leaders are doing so.
To decide who to invite first and plan your approach, use our ideal advocate profiles worksheet!
2. Set Your Goals
Now you’ve figured out who your ideal advocates are and planned how to approach them, it’s time to define your goals.
Common employee advocacy program goals include:
- Reducing marketing spend on paid advertising.
- Increasing social media reach and engagement.
- Generating qualified inbound leads and increasing sales.
- Attracting top talent to your organization.
- Enabling your employees to become influential thought leaders in your industry.
Those all sound great, right?
But, getting specific with your goals will help your advocates understand the purpose of the program, and make sure you’re tracking the right metrics to demonstrate success.
For example, if reducing marketing spend is a priority, monitoring earned media value will be essential.
Or if your organization is rapidly growing and looking to recruit top talent, keep an eye on recruitment campaign performance and job applicant numbers.
Getting down to the why will support your business case, helping you get leadership buy-in for continued program backing.
And don’t keep these goals hidden from your advocates! Being transparent will help employees understand why building a social media presence is worthwhile, and make it clear that it’s not just a marketing fad.
3. Provide Training
Here’s the fun part: training! 💪
The last thing you’ll want to do is throw your employees into the deep end without any guidance.
We’ve put together a full employee advocacy training plan, but for now let’s focus on the essentials.
Do these three things first:
1. Start by creating or updating your social media policy. Make it easy to understand, and ensure that all employees have access to it. Use our advocacy-ready social media policy template to get started!
2. Next, establish social media guidelines. These will cover things like tone-of-voice, and provide best practices for using your brand assets.
3. Most importantly, make sure advocates know who to reach out to with any issues or questions. This helps you avoid any PR disasters, and also helps employees feel supported.
Once these three essentials are in place, it’s time to provide training. Remember that some employees may need more guidance than others – we’re not all social media managers!
Get your marketing team to run through the best practices, and provide resources. If you’re using an employee advocacy platform, reach out to your account manager, as they may provide training and support. We do!
And don’t forget to record these training sessions for any new starters.
Let us help. Sign up for free early access to the upcoming course, Employee Advocacy 101! Described as the “Mini MBA” in Employee Advocacy, the course compiles 7+ years of knowledge in 12 concise modules.
Get certified in employee advocacy, and become the expert in your organization!
4. Create & Curate Value-Based Content
You’ve onboarded your ideal advocates, defined your goals, and provided social media training.
But what about content? 🤨
After launching and scaling hundreds of employee advocacy programs, we can reveal that you only need these three types of content for success:
1. Company-Centric Content
This one is easy, it’s the kind of content you likely already produce!
Things like company news, blog posts, podcast episodes and the products/services your company provides.
2. Company Culture Content
Company culture content shows the human side of your company. Content like behind-the-scenes pictures, photos from events or awards ceremonies, and employee spotlights.
This content not only helps you recruit talent, but it also boosts employee engagement by making them feel included and important.
3. Third-Party Content
This is the one that often gets neglected.
Yes, you want to generate website traffic…
But, sharing helpful third-party content like industry news and educational resources will benefit your advocacy program in the long run.
This content will position your employees as knowledgeable professionals who keep up with their industry.
Plus, sourcing third-party content helps you maintain a consistent volume of content for advocates to share. Especially if you’re in a small marketing team, creating lots of content for advocates to share on a weekly basis may not be feasible.
Spending a bit of time finding suitable third-party articles to share solves this problem, while genuinely helping your advocates’ audiences.
Keep in mind that while you do want your employees to share company content, providing a variety of these 3 content types is crucial.
Would you follow someone who exclusively shares promotional content about their company? Probably not.
This is why providing value is key 🗝️
So, balance your company-centric content with industry news and educational content, with the goal of helping your advocates become thought leaders.
Bradley and Lewis explain the ‘holy trinity’ of employee advocacy content in this episode of the podcast:
5. Create Multiple Images & Captions for Every Post
When creating or curating content for your advocates to share, you could simply write one post caption for everyone to copy-and-paste.
Your employees will look like bots 🤖
Here’s a better option:
Write multiple captions for every piece of content.
For example, if you’re sharing a podcast episode, write different social media captions about the key points covered in the episode. You could also pull out specific quotes for emphasis.
Consider different personas while you’re doing this. Remember, these posts will be coming from employee accounts, not your brand channel. Adapt the tone-of-voice for your advocates! Content for your CEO will be more authoritative than content for a marketing assistant for example.
The next step is to think about imagery. When we’re scrolling on social media, what stands out the most? Images.
Create 5 different captions and 5 graphics/images for each piece of content, and your advocacy content will look unique, even though they’re sharing the same article.
6. Be Consistent
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘consistency is key’, right? Well, with employee advocacy, and growing a social media presence generally, it really is.
Establishing a regular cadence for sharing content with your advocates is essential, not only for keeping their audiences engaged, but also to maintain employee interest in participating.
Curating content several times a week is ideal, following the content guidelines I shared above.
DSMN8 CEO Bradley Keenan covers this in the podcast episode below. As he puts it, the key to community building is consistency!
7. Executive Engagement
At the start of this article, I mentioned C-Suite executives as one of the most obvious candidates to invite to your advocacy program.
There are two major reasons for this:
1. Internal Influence
If employees see the leadership team sharing content on LinkedIn, they’re more likely to follow suit.
They’ll not only want to make a good impression with C-Suite executives, but it also adds credibility to your employee advocacy program.
Employees need to know that this isn’t a marketing initiative, but it’s endorsed by senior members of your organization too.
2. External Influence
It’s no secret that people consider CEOs to be public figures, and expect them to be active on social media.
They tend to have higher social media followings too, which will help get your employee advocacy program off to a flying start.
Those who have worked their way up to executive level often have large networks and influence. Their reach is typically higher than your company social media channels.
8. Use Technology
To take employee advocacy community building to the next level, and really make it part of your company culture, you’ll need to create a space for it.
Employees need to know where they can find ready-to-share content.
This could be a dedicated employee advocacy platform like DSMN8, or simply a Slack channel for sharing content with your advocates.
The most important part is making it easy. Reduce as much friction as possible, and you’ll see more engagement!
With DSMN8, your advocates can share content in just one click, and even automate the process completely 👏
9. Maintain Momentum
OK, so you’ve onboarded your ideal advocates, got leadership involved, and are consistently curating content for employees to share.
You’ve created a dedicated space for your advocacy program, building a community around it.
Maintaining the momentum.
Following all the best practices we’ve covered will put you on the right track, but there are some more things you can do to ensure continued participation.
Creating a feedback loop with your advocates is integral. Find out what they think of the content being provided for them to share. Do they have any recommendations? Do they feel they have enough support or training? What types of content generates the most engagement for them?
Taking this feedback on board will improve your program and your content. A win-win!
Use our feedback survey template to make sure you’re asking the right questions.
Another thing to keep in mind is employee turnover. While you might have a really engaged group of advocates right now, inevitably some of your employees will move on. You’ll need to replenish your pool of advocates with continuous onboarding. Besides, new employees are often the most eager to get involved!
Bradley Keenan covered the essentials for maintaining employee advocacy momentum in a feature with Forbes Communications Council – give that a read for a step-by-step guide.
10. Recognize Participation & Results
This is one of the most important best practices for running an employee advocacy program.
Don’t forget to thank your advocates, and celebrate their results.
Remember that creating and sharing social media content isn’t part of their core work duties. They’re going above and beyond by participating.
Some employees will naturally be better at generating engagement on social media than others, so don’t limit these shoutouts to the top performers. We all want to feel appreciated!
Some organizations choose to reward employees with prizes, but we’d recommend not doing this too often. If you rely on this too much, activity will drop drastically if your prize budget runs out!
A personal thank-you message or email from the CEO is often more impactful anyway.
The DSMN8 platform features a leaderboard, gamifying the experience for employees. We find it’s a great way to encourage friendly competition amongst colleagues and departments.
Follow these 10 employee advocacy best practices, and you’ll build a thriving community of advocates, while reaching the business goals you set out to achieve.
For further guidance, check out these resources:
SEO and Content Specialist at DSMN8. Emily has 10 years experience blogging, and is a pro at Pinterest Marketing, reaching 1 million monthly views. She’s all about empowering employees to grow their personal brands and become influencers.