In 2014, Target decided to partner with TOMS. Founded as a for-profit business, TOMS donates a new pair of shoes for every pair of shoes sold. The company has so far donated over 10 million shoes to people in need. For Target this partnership was aligned with their core value of giving back to the community.
To announce the partnership, Target decided to make the press release and all the related information available to their employees first via the company’s employee advocacy platform. As employees heard from the leadership directly, they reciprocated by sharing the news further on social media.
What is Employees Advocacy?
Employee Advocacy involves the promotion of a company by its employees who share their support for a company’s brand, product, or services on their social networks. Most employees have an extensive network of connections which if tapped correctly can expand your brand’s reach, credibility and engagement. Nearly 40% of your workforce is already spending 1-5 hours per week on business-related social media activities. Employees in an employee advocacy program spend more than 5 hours each week on business-related social media activities.
What’s in it for employees?
By acting as advocates or brand ambassadors, employees can enhance their personal brand and expand their network. Employees at most organizations are now looking to grow, learn and are always evaluating new opportunities to make a difference to the organization and the society at large. An employee advocacy program increases an employee’s commitment and also increases internal collaboration between different parts of the company.
How to succeed with Employee Advocacy?
Most employee advocacy programs fail due to the following reasons:
- Company policies do not allow employees to be on social media or the organization has placed restrictions on the content that can be shared.
- Employees don’t have time to spend on social media or participate in an employee advocacy program
- Employees have never received formal training in using social media for employee advocacy.
- Employees don’t see any benefit in being part of the employee advocacy program.
- Employees don’t see value in their work (which means they are anyways bound to leave the company)
To create a culture where employee advocacy can flourish you will have to address the above issues first. You will have to build a culture of transparency, freedom and trust to motivate employees to act as brand ambassadors. Trust builds confidence and enables your employees to feel their judgement to act as a company spokesperson is trusted.
Before you launch an employee advocacy initiative, you have to decisions on how you are going to launch the program.
Start Small and Grow Over Time
You can start by launching the initiate with hand-picked advocates within your organization. Starting small will help you to understand what resonates with your employees and their networks. Also, launching small will help you to get the management buy-in later after having proven results.
Large Scale Launch
If you choose to launch large scale right away, you will need to have an established plan in place for the launch. The plan also has to incorporate training, communication and assigned responsibilities. Launching on a large scale provides every employee with an equal opportunity, and people are less likely to be left out.
Measuring Employee Advocacy
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Employees have an extensive network and have the potential to reach more people that a company’s corporate social media pages combined. According to data from Smarp, employee advocates have 420 Facebook friends, 400 LinkedIn connections, and 360 Twitter followers on an average.
Organic reach of company social media pages is continuously declining as platform tweak algorithms to improve the user experience. Employee advocacy enables brands to increase the reach and visibility of their content efficiently. Data from Smarp suggests that one employee share generates about four clicks on Facebook on average.
Besides the objective-based metrics mentioned above, you can also measure standard participation and reach metrics to assess and refine your employee advocacy program.
Participation Metrics for Employee Advocacy
- Conversion Rate: How many of the employees you’ve invited into the program have actually participated?
- Participation Rate: What percentage of your participants are sharing on any given week?
- Top Contributors: Which specific individuals or teams are sharing the post content?
Reach Metrics for Employee Advocacy
- Organic Reach: As a result of your program, how much more reach has your content been displayed?
- Engagement of Content: What type of engagement do you see before and after the launch of your program? Is it on the increase?
- Which content is shared more: You might find that some types of content are shared more internally than others, leading you to further optimize the content that you curate for the program.
Social is opening up new opportunities for brands to increase reach, generate trust, and engage your target audience. Employee advocacy unlocks the power and influence of employees for the brand. The more employees you have and the larger their social graph is, the bigger your opportunity.