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Published June 5th 2015

Marketing: Want Social Media Advocates? Start With Your Employees

Some of the best brand advocates already work for you. Here are ten top tips to help you get started with employee advocacy on social media.


Would you believe us if we said you could increase the reach of your social media content by at least 10%, by using a resource you already have?

Which resource? Your employees.

The best brand advocates already work for you. Your employees are the biggest marketing asset a brand can have. Yet often, they are an untapped territory.

According a survey by Proskaeur, more and more companies are on social media but employees’ access to social networks at work is decreasing.

In fact, 36% of employers ban social media at work – mainly because staff posting provocative, negative or downright inappropriate content can really put employers in dire straits.

But instead of banning your employees from social media, you should accept the fact that your employees are active on social, and start using this to your advantage.

Why you should get your employees amped about social promotion

Companies might want to rethink putting a ban on social.

Recent studies from Microsoft Corp, Evolv and Warck School of Business have all highlighted positive correlations between social media usage in the office, employee retention and productivity.

A few minutes on Twitter or a short Facebook break helps employees clear heads, reduce fatigue and boost mood.

After all, your employees’ happiness can hugely affect your brand’s social success. Some of the top companies to work for are also some of the most successful companies in social media.


Another important reason is that people are more likely to engage with individuals than brands, so your social media success increasingly relies on your employees’ interactions.

Research has shown that 92% of Americans trust recommendations from family and friends but only 47% trust advertising from companies.

In fact, 41% of Americans believe that employees are more honest and truthful than the PR department or the CEO of a company.

In addition, your employees have 10 times more social connections than your brand does.

Some of your employees might have a larger online reach and influence than your own CEO, perhaps even more than your own brand! Imagine how many more eyes you could have on your brand’s content if it was shared by your employees, not just on your owned social media channels!

How to get started

Would you like to involve your employees in your social media efforts? Here are ten top tips to help you get started.

1) Set your goals for your employee advocacy program. How you will create value for the business? What are you aiming to achieve?

2) Establish advocacy program metrics to measure success. Is it more leads, traffic, reach, positive mentions, share of voice, sales or social connections you’re after? Like any other social media activity, these metrics will help you understand whether it is working or not.

3) Make sure company leadership is on board with your social strategy. Only company cultures rooted in trust do employee advocacy well.

4) Identify your socially active champions in the company.

Select the people who are excited to get involved. If this sounds like an unfeasible task for your middle sized or large enterprise, use social listening tools such as Brandwatch to analyze and identify your most influential and social active employees.

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5) Take note of your industry and the company culture.

What’s being shared, liked, retweeted, clicked on the most by your stakeholders? What type of content resonates most with your communities online?

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6) Manage the community and provide ongoing support.

Balance employees’ urge for social sharing with clear guidelines to help them understand what is acceptable and favorable to share, and what’s not.

For example, IBM’s social media policy contains some clear cut guidelines regarding how the company communicates. IBM also encourages staff to express themselves, let their voice shine and demonstrate their creativity and skills on social media.

7) Make sharing easy.

Send your employees interesting social media updates via internal forums (like Yammer, Slack, Addvocate, etc.) to encourage sharing on their personal accounts. This will help increase your reach and align employees with your company’s social media strategy.

8) Provide training to communicate the company’s vision and represent the company well.

For instance, 58% of Dell employees in the social media certification program engage in social media weekly on behalf of Dell. Their program is successful in that employees share 6 times more Dell information on their personal accounts than on their company owned accounts.

9)Crunch those numbers! 

Analyze the data on a quarterly, monthly or even weekly basis. Currently your employees will only be able to see the direct impact of their interactions (e.g. favorites, replies and shares). However, a social media analytics tool can also tell you the impact in terms of reach and impressions, brand mentionssentiment, and much more.

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10) Give these numbers meaning and share the impact across the company.

How many of their posts have increased overall traffic to your site or contributed to more sales? Structure your program to reward participation, whether it’s badges, prizes or company-wide recognition. For instance, Zappos celebrate with spontaneous happy hours, props e-mails and free t-shirts.

Whether your organization is a growing startup or a Fortune 500, your employees are the public face of your company. If you’re not motivating your staff to advocate for your company on social media, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Have you tried any of these tactics to get your employees involved in social media? What best practices do you use in your company? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet @Brandwatch. We’d love to hear from you!

Case study: Discover how a leading technology company used employee advocacy to increase social activity by 140%.


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