Worker Advocacy on Social Media: What Is It & How To Do It Proper?

If you have employees, it is worth considering an employee advocacy program. It's a powerful way to use social media to increase your company's organic reach while engaging your employees.

Bonus: Download a free employee advocacy toolkit This shows you how you can plan, start and expand a successful employee representation program for your company.

What is employee representation?

Here is a simple definition of employee representation: Employee representation is the advancement of an organization by its workforce.

This can mean that employees exchange information about certain products or campaigns. This could mean they share branded content that is helpful to anyone in your field. Or it could mean that employees give an insight into the company culture.

All of these activities can help build the brand's reputation with both customers and potential new hires.

Employee advocacy can take many forms, both online and offline. However, the most common and effective channel for employee advocacy in 2020 is social media.

Why it is important to represent employees' interests

A recent study found that employee advocacy benefits companies in three ways:

  • It has a positive effect on growth and sales due to the increased brand awareness and positive perception.
  • This has a positive effect on “human capital”, ie on your team. It improves employee attitudes, retention, and engagement.
  • It improves the brand's reputation and helps improve issues management.

Employee representation statistics

Your employees already have social media profiles. You may even find yourself on some platforms that your brand doesn't offer. And they definitely have followers that you don't.

Here is an example of how much this can expand your reach. If an employee shares just six pieces of content on LinkedIn, the employer sees big gains:

  • six job views
  • three page views of the company
  • a company follower
  • six profile views and
  • two new connections.

How about that? More people trust a regular employee (54%) than a CEO (47%). Even more people (68%) trust a company's technical expert. When employees share company content, they create a higher level of brand trust.

Hootsuite research also documents the branding and recruiting benefits of an employee advocacy program:

Source: Hootsuite and Altimeter Research, The Social Transformation Report

You can see from the table that both the employees and the company benefit from this. Almost a quarter of companies say that employee advocacy helps employees better understand the brand. This, in turn, can increase engagement.

For salespeople, an employee representation program can increase efficiency. It also provides a good basis for social selling.

Employees can also improve their credibility and position themselves as industry experts. Almost 86% of those involved in a formal advocacy program say it has had a positive impact on their careers.

Still not sure why employee advocacy is so important? (Or maybe you're convinced, but need help getting your boss on board?)

We created a calculator that estimates the number of new people you can reach using the power of your employees.

Hootsuite employee advocacy reach computers

Source: Hootsuite Lawyer for the Legal Profession

How To Create An Employee Advocacy Program On Social Media: 7 Essential Tips

Employees may already be sharing business content on their personal channels. Especially if they are enthusiastic about their work or want to prove their industry expertise.

An employee advocacy program makes it official. You can create guidelines, resources, and rewards for employees who post about your brand. It standardizes and makes it easy for employees to share branded content.

Here's how to get started.

1. Create a positive and engaging work culture

In order for employees to become brand ambassadors, they need to love more about their work than just their paychecks.

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 found that 73 percent of employees expect potential employers to have the opportunity to help shape the future of society.

Of course, not all companies have a higher social purpose – or at least no obvious one. To meet employee expectations for social impact, you can:

  • Identify your company as an industry disruptor that inspires innovation
  • Service in focus
  • Show support for employees in times of need
  • Emphasize your company's reputation as an industry leader
  • Give something back (e.g. through environmental responsibility programs or charity work)

It is also important to develop a culture of high trust. The Edelman Report found that trust is a key driver of employee referral in the workplace.

Of course, work culture is also about making sure your employees enjoy coming to work. Target uses the slogan "work somewhere you love" in its recruiting materials. Employees use the hashtag #worksomewhereyoulove to share career and daily success in the social field.

This type of passionate employee post is a powerful recruiting tool.

2. Set goals and KPIs for your employee representation program

Employees may already post information about work on their social media feeds. However, without an organized system and clearly defined goals, there is no way to track the results.

The better you define your goals, the easier it is for your employees to understand what is most helpful.

If your goal is brand awareness, encourage employees to post broadly about the brand. When you launch a new product, you can create shareable content that employees can be proud of.

An advocacy campaign should be aligned with at least one of your company's main business goals. Once the goal is clear, you can decide which social media metrics to track. This could include the percentage of language, website traffic, or leads.

When the campaign is complete, summarize your results in a report to show the return on investment (ROI). Include information on general metrics (e.g. increased reach) and employee engagement.

Some key metrics to keep in mind are:

  • Top provider. Which people or teams share the most? Which advocates generate the most engagement?
  • Organic reach. How many people see the content that is shared by your employees?
  • Engagement. Do people click links, leave comments, and re-share content from your advocates? What is the engagement per network?
  • Traffic. How much traffic did the content shared by the employee lawyers bring to your website?
  • Brand sentiment. How has your advocacy campaign affected your overall brand sentiment on social media?

Don't get so involved with certain ad campaigns that you forget about daily employee approvals with your branded hashtags.

For example, Reebok encourages employees to post with the hashtag #FitAssCompany. The contributions show Reebok's commitment to helping employees and customers achieve fitness goals. They also convey a picture of the corporate culture.

3. Identify the employee representatives

For large companies, the C-Suite often has the most visible social media presence. (At least until you have an employee advocacy program in place.)

But these top executives are usually not the most logical drivers of an employee advocacy program. Instead, tap people who are natural social media users and who are passionate about the company and brand.

Empower them as you build your employee advocacy program. Include them in the definition and communication of campaigns and goals or create suitable incentives. This information can help you understand which tools and resources employees are most likely to use and share.

Then work with your stakeholders to identify potential beta testers. They can help you steer your strategy and provide honest feedback.

You may see an initial flurry of social shares when you start your employee advocacy program. But without effective internal leadership, that enthusiasm will wane over time. Employee representatives are committed to ensuring that advocacy is an ongoing focus.

4. Establish social media guidelines for employees

Employees not only need to know what the message is, they also need to know how best to communicate it. What language should you use? How often should you post? How should you react to comments?

A social media guideline and a style guide for employee advocacy take the guesswork out of these questions.

Policies also help protect your company's reputation and avoid legal issues and security risks. Some guidelines are only sensible – for example, avoiding vulgar or disrespectful language. Others are best left to the Legal Department.

Ask the employees about their contributions themselves. The Edelman Trust Barometer showed that 73 percent of employees expect to be involved in the planning. The early involvement of employees promotes buy-in.

Remember that every employee has a different level of comfort with social media. First, familiarize yourself with social media best practices in general and company policies and guidelines. This helps to create a level playing field.

Make sure the guidelines are easy to understand and easy to follow. They should enable advocacy rather than restrict it. Make recommendations on what, where, and how to share.

Starbucks publishes its employee social media guidelines directly on its website. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Share your passion, but don't let social posting get in the way.
  • Take the main drag and remember who can see your posts.
  • Make it clear that you are not a company spokesperson and direct media inquiries to the media relations team.
  • Do not share future promotions or inside financial information

Finally, they encourage employees to use the hashtag #tobeapartner.

This Instagram post by an employee in a California location received 787 likes from 1,312 followers.

That's an unheard-of engagement rate of 59%. What's really going on here? The hashtag benefits both the employer and the employee. The employer receives a second hand engagement from 787 people who may not follow @Starbucks, while the employee receives additional likes from the hashtag.

5. Get employees on the side

Once you've set your goals and guidelines, it's time to reach out to the staff. Let them know about your advocacy program and tools.

Of course, you should never force employees to share branded content on their personal channels. For one thing, this is not a good way of building trust. (And remember, trust is a critical part of advocacy for organic workers.)

On the other hand, there will be a lack of enthusiasm for forced social proportions. They are unlikely to cause any excitement among your employees' followers.

Another way to get employees excited about your brand and thus promote advocacy is to simply acknowledge their great work.

An Employee of the Month program or announcement in a monthly newsletter sounds old-fashioned, but it can still be effective. Time can be scheduled in team meetings to identify employees. Recognition or re-approval on the main company's social accounts can also be a great motivator.

The Ochsner Health System creates social videos that introduce its employees who work on the front lines of the healthcare system. With the hashtag #OchsnerHero, Ochsner recognizes the commitment of its employees and gives their work a human face. Ochsner has around 300 trademark attorneys, and these videos are easy for those brand ambassadors to share.

COVID-19 Frontline Diaries with Ochsner Hero, Tahj Joseph

Meet today's #OchsnerHero, Tahj Joseph! Tahj Joseph is a supply chain technician for the material management department at the Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner Reception Dock. He has been working seven days a week to make sure all departments of OMC Kenner have the materials they need for this pandemic. Tahj feels blessed to be able to help every day during this difficult time. “If I were in one of these patient rooms, I want everyone, including supply chain and logistics workers, to do everything possible to support our frontline healthcare workers. I feel like everyone is coming together to play a role in fighting this virus and doing my best to contribute is the least I can do. “Thank you Tahj for being a #OchsnerHero! To support our heroes like Tahj, visit Ochsner.org/heroes

Posted by Ochsner Health on Friday 1st May 2020

6. Create and share valuable resources that employees can publish

Give employees all the tools and resources they need to get your brand out there. Develop a robust content library with pre-approved resources that your reps can share with just a few clicks or taps.

Remember: they're much more likely to share something interesting or funny than a boring brand update.

When you announce a new product, make sure that employees really understand and are enthusiastic about it. Create shareable resources like videos and graphics formatted for different social platforms.

But don't stifle your creativity. Encourage them to share what they personally love about your brand, as long as it fits your social media guidelines.

Regularly update the social content you make available to employees. This will help establish consistent habits for sharing social media. Offer a mix of fun, shareable content, and industry trends.

7. Make advocacy rewarding

Since you ask something of your employees, it's only fair to offer something in return.

Make sure they understand the industry benefits such as: B. increasing your visibility and credibility as an expert.

However, internal incentives for sharing branded content can also make employees feel like they're involved in the program.

Everyone appreciates specific rewards like gift cards, bonuses, and even corporate loot. And maybe this branded hat or this branded t-shirt will appear in a future social post and create even more opportunities for advocacy in the long term.

One easy way to reward advocacy is to turn it into a game. For example, create a hashtag to promote a specific employee advocacy campaign. Then create a ranking to show who gets the most impressions or engagements for the hashtag.

Organize an award for the leader or draw for all team members who create hashtag posts.

Give your advocacy leaders the freedom to create other unique ways to make advocacy fun and engaging. For example, Cisco employees took part in a virtual talent show and corporate swag performed.

Platform for employee representation

Often the hardest part of employee advocacy is execution. Now that you understand the value of an employee advocacy program, let's talk about a platform that you can use to set one up.

Hootsuite Amplify is a mobile platform for employee advocacy. This makes it safe and easy for employees to share approved social content with their friends and followers.

Amplify can also be integrated into Workplace from Facebook. This allows employees to share social content from a platform that they already use on a daily basis.

Antalis is the leading European distributor of professional paper, packaging and visual communication projects. They used Amplify to create an employee ambassador program.

Working with advocacy staff, they launched their advocacy program on LinkedIn. They've checked in with early adopters regularly to ask what they want from the program

Over time, 87 percent of Antalis employees have joined the employee representation program. Last year, 2,400 positions were shared through employee representatives.

The most significant effect was recruitment. Some positions were filled in just a few weeks with candidates who came from employee attorneys through LinkedIn posts.

Harness employee representation opportunities with Hootsuite Amplify. Increase reach, involve employees and measure the results – safely and securely. Find out how Amplify can help your business today.

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