In the world of social media, questions like, “How can we increase our reach and engagement?” or “What’s the value?” are common. For social media managers stifled by lack of budget and constrained by the confinements of organic reach, it can be challenging to identify and implement programs that are both affordable and impactful. But what if I told you some of the strongest resources were your own colleagues?

Employee advocacy is more than a buzzword. At its core, a social media employee advocacy program is the promotion of a company through the lens of its workforce. A recent study found that over 73% of people find posts from personal accounts to be more persuasive than posts from brand accounts.

Whether your team begins sharing updates on the latest product innovations or company culture moments, through an employee advocacy program, your organization’s content will be catapulted in front of a new, larger audience – many of which may be unfamiliar with your brand.

If you’re looking to integrate an employee advocacy program that will stick, these four steps to success will help navigate the process from start to finish.

#1: Define the “why”

Before implementing a new program in your social strategy, it’s important to outline the key KPIs to accurately measure success. Common metrics when launching employee advocacy programs include:

  • Improving organic reach and engagement
  • Increasing social media referral traffic to your website
  • Strengthening brand awareness
  • Supporting recruitment efforts
  • Reducing marketing costs

While there are countless benefits for your business, a Hinge Research Institute study shows that 86% of employees involved in a formal advocacy program said their involvement in social media had a positive impact on their career. Communicating the personal and professional benefits to your team can help drive interest and passion. Benefits include:

  • Keeping social channels populated
  • Creating new opportunities to engage prospects and connections
  • Positioning themselves as industry thought leaders
  • Company-sponsored participation incentives

#2: Set your team up for success

The key to a successful social program requires thoughtful planning and consideration up front. Investing in an employee advocacy software (such as GaggleAMP, Sprout Social Bambu or Hootsuite Amplify) is crucial to keep things organized, consistent and simple. Once the workflow is determined, create training videos and guidelines for employees to reference as needed. Outlining best practices, content and participation expectations and formal policies/restrictions upfront will eliminate guesswork and confusion down the road.

#3: Program launch and maintenance

Many employee advocacy programs fail due to poor internal communication and lack of accessible content. Once everything is in place to launch the program, consider doing a soft launch with a small group of beta testers to gain immediate feedback to modify and improve the program. Once you’ve experimented with the smaller group and made adjustments as needed, it’s time to roll the program out to the larger group!

Driving consistent participation requires a steady cadence of content. Utilizing content from your organic social calendar is a great place to start and is what will help boost engagement and reach on your brand’s social channels. Employee advocacy software makes it simple for employees to like and share company posts directly to their personal pages without leaving the platform.

Frequent communication will ultimately lead your team to success. Having a channel in Slack or Microsoft Teams dedicated to those involved in the social advocacy program is a great way to stay connected and aware of new opportunities and concerns. There should be a program liaison available to answer questions, sort through employee-generated content (bring on the company culture!) and provide updates on incentives and opportunities.

#4: Improvement & incentives

Launching anything new requires time to refine. Keep track of which content is resonating best with participants and their audiences, participation trends and all KPIs to continually improve the program.

In addition to the many personal and professional benefits presented to employees participating in your advocacy program, offering other incentives can generate excitement and overall performance. Spark some friendly competition between coworkers through initiating a leaderboard and quarterly prizes (gift cards, shout outs, etc.).

At the end of the day, employees will participate because they want to, not because they have to. Launching an employee advocacy program on social media is not only a great way to boost your business goals, but also flourish and grow together as a team.

If your organization is interested in creating a successful employee advocacy program on social media, we have the experience to help. Let’s connect – reach out to learn more.

Catherine Pace is a Digital Account Executive at Franco. Connect with her on LinkedIn.