Employee advocacy has become a hot topic as of late, with LinkedIn singing the praises of the social media tactic in a recent video. But what is it, and why is it so effective? In this blog, we explore how Employee Advocacy on LinkedIn works, highlight some brands that are doing it well and explain how you can implement it in your business.
What is Employee Advocacy?
Put simply, employee advocacy is when people promote the business they work for. That means that every time a member of staff posts about their employer on social media (in a positive or neutral way) they’re acting as an advocate. It’s likely that some of your employees are already advocates – perhaps they like posting about project successes or uploading photos of team days out. Giving these employees direction – and encouraging others to join them – can help turn this ad-hoc behavior into something far more effective.
Why is Employee Advocacy so Effective?
There are a 5 key reasons why employee advocacy programs work so well:
A recent LinkedIn report found that, on average, employee posts result in double the click-through-rate achieved by brand posts. This is unsurprising; we know that people trust recommendations from friends and family over all other types of advertising. Employee advocacy programs allow businesses to capitalise on this by encouraging staff to share brand messaging and content.
The peer-to-peer nature of LinkedIn means that people are far more likely to connect with people than follow a company. In fact, according to LinkedIn, the average employee has 10 times more 1st-degree connections than their company has followers. That’s a huge amount of additional organic reach waiting to be leveraged.
While businesses can use content to demonstrate their expertise on social media, employee advocates can embody it. Companies should seek to establish key members of staff as thought leaders who can share genuine and valuable opinion pieces, join discussions and engage with others on a personal level. This tactic results in these employees becoming mini brands of their own; people will seek them out for their valuable content and connect with them because they’re key players in the industry.
Thought leadership has also been shown to have a direct impact on a business’ sales. In a 2017 report, Edelman found that “39% of…decision makers said thought leadership content had influenced them to ask a vendor to participate in the ‘request for proposal’ process, and 47% said such content had a direct impact on awarding business.”
Employee advocacy programmes have a positive impact on staff retention. According to LinkedIn, companies with a successful program are 58% more likely to attract and 20% more likely to retain top talent.
Who is Doing it Well?
Many businesses have already established successful employee advocacy programs, with all sorts of different approaches being used. We particularly like how Starbucks and John Lewis’ activations.
Starbucks’ Partner programme stretches across multiple channels, with dedicated Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts sharing barista-created content. On LinkedIn, branch managers show what life is like at Starbucks with in-café and team photos, while HQ staff share news and company updates. There’s also a strong focus on recruitment, with a recent video campaign featuring key Starbuck corporate employees discussing their roles.
Everything brought together by the #tobeapartner hashtag, which runs throughout Starbucks’ employee campaign.
John Lewis & Partners
John Lewis employee advocacy programs are strongly embedded in the company’s framework; so strongly in fact, that the brand recently decided to add ‘and Partners’ to its name.
On LinkedIn, staff from across the businesses are encouraged to share content from their day-to-day lives as John Lewis employees, while more senior staff produce thought leadership content, promote products, share company news and drive recruitment. And, more recently, all employees were encouraged to get behind the brands’ Christmas campaign.
How can you implement it?
Instead of diving straight in, it’s best to launch employee advocacy programs slowly. Here are the first steps you should take to get up and running.
Find your existing social stars
Engaging employees who understand and frequently use social media is the easiest way to establish an initial advocacy group. The individuals are more likely to buy into the program as they are already comfortable with using platforms like LinkedIn.
Develop a content distribution process
Alongside their own original content, employee advocates should be encouraged to share company posts and updates. Establish a process that enables you to easily distribute assets (such as videos, imagery, blog post links, etc) along with suggested messaging.
Produce a guide
It’s important to create a guide to help direct your employee advocates. Consider the messages you’d like your staff to share; do you want them to help spread company news, talk about products, or give an insight into company life? Include example posts to show staff what ‘good’ looks like.
It’s also important that this guide includes anything topics you’d like your employees to avoid or things they should definitely not say. Putting this in place is often one of the key requirements for gaining buy-in across the organisation.
Completing these steps will help you establish a basic employee advocacy program. If you’d like to take things to the next level, we can help. Get in touch to find out how we can help you develop a thought leadership strategy or provide social media training for your staff.