Why Employee Advocacy is Critical to Your Social Media Strategy

businessman hand offer megaphone for employee to speak out.

Constantly changing algorithms, a steady decline in organic reach, and a continuous flood of new content entering social media feeds have made amplifying an organization's voice more challenging than ever. In turn, communication and PR professionals are under constant pressure to come up with new and creative approaches in order to adjust to an ever-evolving social media ecosystem.

One of the most effective, but often underutilized strategies that can significantly broaden an organization's reach on social media is the implementation of a coordinated employee advocacy program.

Employee advocacy on social media can take different forms, including when employees engage with content posted by their employer or by posting original content relating to their role within their company.

The Value of Employee Advocacy

Posts that are shared by employees consistently see an increase in organic reach when compared to posts directly from a company's page. According to LinkedIn, "On average, a company's employee networks are at least 10x larger than a company's follower base. And, when your colleagues share a post, it is seen as 3 times more authentic, which helps the message cut through the clutter of advertising people see every day."

In addition, employee-shared content receives higher levels of engagement, with LinkedIn reporting that employee shares are responsible for driving a 30% increase in the total engagement a company sees on social media.

Companies that have implemented a formal employee advocacy program have seen a variety of positive impacts. A study by the School of Journalism and Media at San Diego State University found that, among other benefits, employee advocacy:

  • Helps to positively shape an organization's reputation and plays a vital role in issues management, particularly in crisis communications
  • Positively impacts company growth through an increase in brand awareness and positive brand sentiment
  • Creates a stronger workforce through talent recruitment and retention, as well as heightened engagement and increased productivity

Employee Advocacy Also Benefits Employees

Individual employees who actively participate in a formal advocacy program also stand to benefit. A study by Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today found that 86% of employees involved in a formal advocacy program said it positively affected their careers. This included helping to build and strengthen their professional credibility, grow their network and enhance their reputation as an industry expert.

Organizations that embark on the implementation of a formal employee advocacy program will need to lay the proper groundwork in order to ensure success. It's vital that you not only communicate the importance of the program to employees, but you must also determine how to motivate and encourage participation. While some employees may value the opportunity to grow their network and strengthen their professional credibility, others may respond to incentives such as company-wide recognition, special perks, or monetary rewards.

Make it Easy to Implement and Measure

It's also important to create internal processes for easy participation, which may include providing training for employees. In addition, there are a variety of employee advocacy software tools on the market, which help make it simple for employees to participate while also providing analytics to track your program's progress.

Finally, it's imperative that every organization set and measure KPIs to determine effectiveness. This should begin by tracking your employee participation rate in order to assess the level of buy-in within your workforce. Also, metrics such as new followers, post reach, engagement, website traffic and referrals should be included as part of your baseline KPIs.

Organizations that have dedicated the time and resources to creating and maintaining a vibrant employee advocacy program will tell you that it is well worth it. Is it time for your organization to start?

Matt Petteruto is principal of MP Communications. Connect with him at linkedin.com/in/mattpetteruto.