How marketers are using employee advocacy today – Part 2

employee advocacy during COVID

Continuing from last week’s blog post, here are more tactics marketers are using to boost employee advocacy today.

Highlight WIIFM, Share Personal Branding Tips and Training

When it comes to employee advocacy and brand evangelism, don’t assume that your colleagues know “what’s in it for me” (WIFM). Point out these important benefits:

  • By sharing high-quality content on a consistent basis, they are building a personal brand and enhancing their professional image.
  • Ongoing sharing leads to building a bigger and more engaged audience, resulting in an expanded network. For members of the sales team, this is particularly important - studies show that leads acquired through social selling are seven times more likely to convert.
  • By making employee advocacy as part of their weekly or daily routine, they become more aware of what’s going on in the company and learn which subject matter experts to reach out to for help with their day-to-day tasks.

To make the WIIFM points and show colleagues how to use social media to build their personal brands, some marketers provide employee advocacy kick-off meetings, informal training sessions and workshops.

Casey Graham, CEO of Gravy, is a huge proponent of personal branding and leads with the WIIFM message. He tells his employees “If you build your LinkedIn brand, you will never have to build a resume again.” That’s a powerful motivator!

Like many marketers I spoke to, Gravy’s team has an “influencer” Slack channel where the marketing team posts company updates. Employees use that same channel to share what’s working for them, including what posts are generating the most engagement and why. Check out Casey’s podcast interview for more advice and tips on using LinkedIn to build a personal and company brand.

Make it a Game

A popular way to drive awareness and enthusiasm around employee advocacy is to launch contests or raffles.

“I've run content distribution and social engagement contests with different prizes (cash, PTO, etc) to incentivize participation, “ says consultant Chantelle Marcelle. For those who are wary of participating, “ I've found creating a team approach can help because of the cooperative mindset that requires. For example, one year I ran a pumpkin decorating contest where everyone in the company was on teams of about 3. It generated great content for social. The winning team was determined in part by whose pumpkin photo got the most engagement on social media. So employees who never really interacted with the company accounts were motivated to participate to support their fellow co-workers on their team.”

This strategy also brings up another point – make sure fun images and videos are part of the content equation in your employee advocacy program. To keep their audiences engaged, employees are much more likely to share content that includes graphics, and for some, humor is an important part of the mix. Make this type of material available and easy to find and use.

Jon Park, marketing manager at MarketMan shares, “One strategy that’s worked for me in the past was a quarterly raffle. Every time a colleague shared a piece of content, we rewarded them with a raffle ticket, with the prize being a $100 donation to their charity of choice.” Check out other employee advocacy tips in his article.

Extend from Distribution to Content Creation

My conversations revealed that when it comes to employee advocacy, content marketers are thinking beyond content distribution. They want to also make it easy for employees to create new content. This has the advantage of not only producing content that represents many different, trusted voices but also ensuring wider distribution since employees will enthusiastically share content that they authored

When asking employees to create content it’s important to point out that not only is the company benefiting from their work, but that they are also getting the opportunity to build out their professional portfolio with help from the marketing team as well as gaining recognition internally and on social media. For employees who don’t work in public-facing departments and as a result, don’t often get credit or recognition, the chance to contribute to content creation is a nice boost.

The key to getting participation is to make it as easy as possible, including:

  • Schedule a time (as short as 15 minutes) to have a writer/content marketer interview them for a blog post, a podcast or a video.
  • Ask various subject matter experts for a short quote on a relevant topic.
  • Use the employee advocacy Slack channel to pose a question and create a blog post from the responses (full disclosure - that’s what I did to write these last two blog posts!)

Consider the Impact of COVID

When asked if they changed anything in their employee advocacy programs when the COVID outbreak began, most marketers indicated that they didn’t change anything except that they slowed down or stopped company-focused social media posts for a while because the environment was not conducive to this type of communication. Today, they are now back to posting at the same levels as they did before the world was aware of COVID. In many cases, teams that held weekly standup meetings to announce new content have shifted to virtual meetings.

Dinesh Agarwal, founder at RecurPost makes a great point on how employee posts are impacted by working from home: “Pandemic has worked better for us in this situation. We have a Slack channel where we share every new social media update via Zapier integrations. Usually social media platforms' algorithms do not like multiple people engaging on a post from the same IP address. Due to the pandemic, everyone is working from home which technically means everyone is using a different IP address. This makes their engagement with your content even more valuable.”

Final Thoughts

Employee advocacy and personal branding go hand in hand. Show how employees benefit as much as the company does when they help promote company messages and how the marketing team can help them use personal branding to succeed professionally. Make it easy and fun to participate and give employees the recognition they deserve when they contribute to an employee advocacy program.

Want to supercharge your employee advocacy program with these ideas? Try out the Please Share app, designed specifically for Slack. We're offering free beta access for a limited time.