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4 Steps to Building a Powerful Employee Advocacy Program

by Khoros Staff | Nov 28, 2016

Editor's Note: This post was originally created by Spredfast before Spredfast and Lithium merged and became Khoros.

While not all employees are passionate believers of the businesses they work for, let’s assume that a good majority of them are. Whether you're a small business or a mega enterprise, your employees are likely your strongest advocates. They understand the mission and they've signed up to be a part of the cause, whether that is selling outdoor gear (like REI), unique travel experiences (like Airbnb or Homeaway), or enterprise-level social marketing software like, ahem, Khoros (formerly Spredfast).

So when thinking about amplifying your social presence beyond your owned social properties, look your business right in the mirror and consider asking your strongest allies to join you. Tap into your employees as a first line of defense—and offense—maybe even before reaching out to celebrities or influencers.

Here are 4 steps to get a successful employee advocacy program started at your organization:

Step 1: Know your Why

Be sure to have the end goal in mind. Establish your employee advocacy mission so that both you and your employee ambassadors are aware. Ask yourself this question: What are we aiming to achieve by launching an employee advocacy program? It could be extending your social reach, driving brand awareness, or having more subject matter experts in the field sharing their knowledge. The why could be around curating more authentic content for your social properties by having your employees help source and contribute to your outbound posts. Or perhaps your mission is simply to have a deeper connection with more of the people you care about 1:1 (employee to customer), instead of brand to person.

The why will become the foundation for your strategy and will help determine how you’ll get there. With this in mind, you’ll be ready to set program goals, outline key performance indicators, and select the right social channels to achieve your objectives.

Step 2: Determine the Who

Not every employee is a great candidate for being part of your social strategy. You might carefully select your internal influencers—or, you might consider creating an opt-in only program. If the program is company-wide, recruit employees from across the organization and have representation from different departments.

Also consider the idea of appointing department or team leads. Participants should include employees who are enthusiastic about taking on the important role of being an extension of your business. Regardless of the who, keep in mind that company culture matters tremendously. I will share more on inspiring participation in the next step.

Step 3: Activate & Empower

Your employee advocates will need inspiration, knowledge, and the right tools to make this program a success. Breaking this down:

Inspiration: Your business has to create opportunities for employees to be social, whether those include celebrating wins, experiencing and socializing things together, having company/industry news to share, or having people out in the field learning and sharing. A big part of the onus is on the company to inspire employees toward becoming passionate and active ambassadors.

The onus is on the company to inspire employees toward becoming passionate advocates.

Knowledge: Social media may not be everyone’s first language, so be ready to break down the basics. Create guidelines and best practices to activate and empower your team. Let’s use the example of brand awareness and outbound publishing: guidelines could include copy length and image best practices per channel, publishing cadence, preferred hashtags, and general social dos and don’ts. You might create content starters to give the team an idea of what to post. Side note: Don’t let your social guidelines compromise personal authenticity. Multiple people posting the same content will make your brand sound robotic.

Determine the most effective way to communicate guidelines, best practices, and moments of inspiration with internal employees—and don’t forget to incentivize and celebrate wins.

Tools: Ambassadors will need the right tools to be successful.

  • For outbound publishing, Khoros Social Marketing will allow you to populate content starters that can be selected, edited, and shared.
  • For the connecting 1:1 use case, Khoros Intelligence can help ambassadors find influencers or people who are interested in specific topics.
  • The Khoros Platform can be leveraged to help ambassadors find and source content for your brand's outbound publishing efforts.
  • Measurement and reporting is the foundation of any digital strategy. A good tool will be needed to measure the effectiveness of your program.

The inspiration, education, and training that you provide will need to be a part of a strong communication plan. The right way to do this varies by organization, but personally, I’ve found that a multi-platform “drip campaign” works best (Slack, a few minutes in team meetings, internal Wikis, etc).

Step 4: Measure & Optimize

Track the right set of metrics to measure the effectiveness of your program. Each organization is going to have a different measurement approach and strategy based on their org mission and program goals. It is critical to establish what you’ll measure and how and when you’ll report.

Also keep in mind that tracking to KPIs for employee advocacy will be necessary in maintaining long-term growth of the program. Entrepreneur offers helpful tips as to what to exactly to track—and why.

If you're committed, don't make the mistake of letting social be an afterthought. Employee advocacy should not be considered as in-the-moment tactics, but rather a part of your overall strategy.

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