The Comprise Guide to Incorporating Employee Advocacy into Your Social Media Strategy

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Nowadays, marketers and communication professionals face the challenge of accomplishing more with less. With limited budgets and resources, companies across industries strive to maximize their social media return on investment (ROI) by employing influencer strategies and paid advertising. However, one often overlooked aspect of a successful social media strategy is harnessing the power of employee advocacy.

Employee Advocacy on Social Media

Your employees are valuable resources for promoting your brand authentically on social media. Unlike traditional influencers, employees provide authenticity and genuine investment in their company’s social media success.

A formalized brand advocacy program is a potent tool for driving word-of-mouth, boosting recruitment and, ultimately, increasing sales. But employee advocacy goes much deeper than simple promotion, allowing employees to evolve into invaluable ambassadors and legitimately connect with others within their professional networks.

Employees spread word-of-mouth awareness, a powerful element in any marketing mix.

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According to a report by SEMRush, word-of-mouth marketing drives $6 trillion in annual global spending and is responsible for 13% of all sales. On top of that, Adweek reported that 76% of individuals surveyed say they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than content shared by brands.

By actively engaging employees in social media, brands saw a dramatic impact. Understanding Employee Advocacy on Social Media, a report from Hinge Marketing in collaboration with Social Media Today, found that:

  • Around 64% of employees in formal programs credit employee advocacy with attracting and developing new business.
  • Plus, 45% attribute new revenue streams to their employee advocacy program.

In 2024, integrating employee advocacy into your social media strategy is essential for maximizing reach, engagement and authenticity. However, implementing a formal employee advocacy program can be challenging.

Here are six compelling reasons to prioritize employee advocacy as part of your company’s comprehensive social media marketing and communications strategy.

Six Reasons for Building an Employee Advocacy Program on Social Media

1. Drives Greater Reach

The current state of organic social media is such that the average reach on Facebook is just 1.9% of the people who follow the account. In other words, if an account has 1,000 followers, about 19 people, on average, will see that brand’s post.

We track unique reach as a key performance indicator (KPI) to measure post performance. Reach indicates if a post transcends the algorithm restraints, that success is usually attained through increased engagement.

Several industry studies show that employees engaging with brand posts help increase reach:

  • LinkedIn reports that employees have a 10 times greater network than the company’s social media follower counts.
  • Brand messages are reshared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees through employee advocacy vs the brand.
  • Content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.

Unlocking reach ensures broader visibility for your brand’s content, not only for a specific post but also for subsequent brand posts. This happens as algorithms identify user interest in your brand.

2. Builds Influence & Trust

When we talk to clients about influencer social media campaigns, authenticity often emerges as a primary concern when compensating individuals to endorse products or services. The concern is valid, so here’s where employees can bridge the gap.

A friend’s recommendation can outweigh the slickest ad campaign because consumers prioritize sincerity over salesmanship. In a landscape where skepticism surrounds traditional marketing tactics, people seek authenticity — and your workforce plays a pivotal role.

We mentioned above that employees offer greater authenticity and trust than the official brand voice. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, people trust a regular employee (54%) more than a CEO (47%), and 60% trust a technical expert more than a CEO.

With greater trust comes more consideration to purchase.

3. Drives Sales

Your employees naturally connect with prospective buyers.

As mentioned, peer-to-peer endorsement carries significant weight with potential customers. Employee advocacy programs also reach a wider audience than traditional marketing efforts, with brand messaging infiltrating the previously untapped markets of their employees’ diverse networks spanning various demographics and interest.

In business-to-business marketing, research shows having more touch points is critical to success. Another consideration is who influences B2B purchase decisions. Research firm GWI released a 2023 report on a segment of millennial, digital-native employees called BETAs who influence B2B purchase decisions.

The key to leveraging employee advocacy on social media to drive sales is knowing that your executive leaders’ content will not resonate with this BETA audience. Content from your millennial, digital-native team members offers another touch point and has a greater chance of resonating with this crucial audience.

"Our global data shows that 75% of ultimate decision makers for hardware and 72% for software are now BETAs — though this varies by market. Our data also shows a dominant influence of BETAs on purchase journeys: 57% of our global BETAs say they are a key influence in identifying new business needs, and 47% say they are responsible for approving purchases."

4. Manages Costs Effectively

Employee advocacy programs provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising and marketing strategies. Leveraging the existing networks and resources of employees reduces the need for paid promotions or sponsored content. Instead, brands can harness the enthusiasm and expertise of their workforce to organically promote products, services and company initiatives, achieving greater reach and impact without significantly increasing marketing budgets.

Furthermore, employee-generated referrals convert at a much higher rate — seven times more often than other types of leads.

5. Assists With Recruiting & Retention

An employee’s post can echo louder than any corporate job ad because it feels genuine. When staff share positive aspects of their workplace, that endorsement speaks volumes about the environment you’ve fostered — often connecting more with potential candidates than traditional recruitment methods could ever hope to achieve.

A study by Jobvite asserts that employee activity in social media positively impacts “human capital:”

  • Employee referrals have the highest applicant-to-hire conversion rate — only 7% of applicants are via employees, which accounts for 40% of all new hires.
  • 67% of employers and recruiters said recruiting took less time, and 51% said recruiting via referrals was less expensive.
  • 47% of referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies.

Employee activity on social media also informs potential applicants about available roles. When encouraged to share, employee posts can tangibly demonstrate what is working at a company and what its culture is like.

When employees speak positively about their workplace online, their words carry weight — and we’re not just tossing numbers around here. Their shares and likes can influence others to consider working for your company or, conversely, to look elsewhere.

We like this example from the U.S. Air Force:

“You are encouraged to use social media to share your experiences as an Airman or Airwoman … Whether you’re sharing information with just your close friends and family or sharing it with the world in an online video or a blog, you’re informing people on what it’s like to be a part of the world’s greatest Air Force.”

6. Provides Content Variety & Thought Leadership

Employees bring diverse perspectives, experiences and insights to the table, enriching the brand’s content strategy. Employee-generated content, providing behind-the-scenes glimpses into industry-specific knowledge and expertise, adds depth and authenticity to the brand narrative.

Employee content also extends thought leadership. A 2020 Thought Leadership Impact Study revealed significant insights into how prospective clients accessed vendors or partner capabilities, finding 59% agree that an organization’s thought leadership is more trustworthy than the company’s marketing material. Another way of saying this is the expertise shared by employees can significantly influence purchase decisions.

A variety of content types ensures updates remain fresh and engaging, catering to different audience preferences — resulting in a more comprehensive and compelling brand presence across social media platforms.

Building A Strategic Employee Engagement Plan for Social Media

Earlier in this blog post, we used the phrase “formal employee advocacy program.” The term “formal” is intentional because any program like this requires a systematic articulation of objectives, goals and elements — and a coordinated and planned rollout to team members.

Employees often hesitate to engage with or share company content, influenced by various factors:

  • Understanding: Employees may need a comprehensive understanding of the purpose, expectations and benefits of advocacy programs.
  • Concerns: Fear of potential negative consequences, such as public backlash or violations of company policies, that could jeopardize their employment.
  • Prioritization: Employees may prioritize their defined work tasks due to time commitments, making advocacy activities secondary.
  • Incentives: Lack of incentives to participate.

Despite these hesitations, the good news is that recent research indicates that employees are willing to participate when the company provides the proper support. According to survey results from Sprout Social:

  • 62% of all employees would publish employee advocacy posts if written for them.
  • 72% said they would post pre-produced content.

Consider driving employee engagement with brand content through three key actions:

  1. Encourage employees to comment, like or share company feed content on their personal social media accounts.
  2. Facilitate the distribution of pre-produced company content through employees’ personal social media channels.
  3. Motivate employees to create and share original content via their personal social media accounts.

Ready to elevate your social media marketing?

Schedule a free 15-minute discovery call to explore how an employee engagement strategy can elevate your social media efforts to new heights.

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