Launch a Social Media Advocacy Program inside your company with this step-by-step guide. In this video, our founder Bob Tripathi chats with Casey Hall, president of Lumberjack Social, on the top tips for launching an advocacy program. Also available as a podcast, click here to access!
Casey: Employee Advocacy for Social Media can sometimes take longer than 6 weeks before you start seeing significant results, depending on the size of the pilot. It can take a while for people to get their profiles updated and even start to share on a regular basis because while they may be sharing great content, it may take a while to catch on.
Like if you and I are on LinkedIn and you see somebody you know for the first time and they post an interesting article and you don’t know them real well (it might be someone in your network), you might not click or comment on it.
But if start to see over the course of a month or two that this person is regularly sharing things that I like, I will read these articles from then on. There’s a little bit of groundwork that needs to be laid first. It’s not something you just turn on like paid to build that authority. So it can take time to see those results.
But what I’ve seen just off the top of my head and when you have employees who share brand content, you’re getting something like 5 times the reach of if you were just sharing it through your branded channels.When you have employees who share brand content, you're getting something like 5 times the reach of if you were just sharing it through your branded channels - Casey Hall Click To Tweet
And in my opinion that reach is often better because you’re not just reaching the audience or the branded channels; you’re reaching out to all these employees and their networks who are a lot of times not following the company already. So you are getting more reach and more specific reach as well.
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Bob: And I think this reach is so different because that is this intangible. Because when people are involved and they’re fighting the same fight and going in the same direction then productivity has a big improvement.
And not just productivity but also employee retention. So sure you can measure the clicks and the shares and the views and those are all vanity metrics but the intangibles also are, I think, bigger than anything else.
Getting Measurable Results for Social Media
Bob: So then after you do the pilot program what are some of the numbers? How do you measure the success when we spend the time and know if it’s working or not? Because that’s what ultimately everybody’s asking.
Casey: So this is where some of the tools come into play. I recommended to a lot of companies that when you’re just starting out with that small pilot you might want to just do it by hand to get started. So you know sharing an email and putting in your own tracking code in those sorts of things. But it seems to get past even just a small handful of people. There’s a whole bunch, more than you ever get with employee advocacy tools out there.
Casey: And what those allow you to do is connect directly with whatever your marketing automation around analytics system is and start measuring employee advocacy right alongside your other tactics whether it’s paid or email or other things. And then you can start to see if this is helping with brand exposure or is this helping us with demand generation. How do those things line up and when can you start to pull some levers to optimize your strategy?
I’ve worked with a number of companies who are now seeing that they aren’t getting to the start of the most basic metrics. They’re getting more reach and more clicks for their demand generation campaign through employee advocacy than they are through they’re (particularly organic) but sometimes all of their branded social media campaign. So I mean I’ve seen some very strong numbers for those.
And it does some things better than others. I don’t think that demand generation campaigns are necessarily always the most effective things in employee advocacy. But if you’re putting out thought leadership, if you’re doing prospecting and sales development in where you’re building relationships rather than just driving for clicks, that’s where I think you see the best results.
Bob: Nice. Totally makes sense and of course the intangibles. So when you are building these programs I think one of the biggest things is getting the influencers or stakeholders in the company who will be working toward that. So what are the typical stakeholders that you go after when you start this? Of course people at the top–the leadership, but do you take functional departments like customer success support and sales?
Casey: So obviously if you have a CMO who is very interested or a CEO is very interested in doing this and promoting it, that’s excellent. And that’s what solves a lot of potential problems that you might have going forward. But I’ve found that often there are smaller specific teams, whether that is in sales offices, the likeliest place where it or some of the starts because there’s a really quickly measurable way to do that. So starting with small specific sales teams or high performing sales personnel. So one of the things I’ve done is when they have like a President’s Club or something about the top salespeople go in and work with that specific group because those are the ones who are often looking for something new and interesting.
So that’s one kind of easily identified group. The other is I usually work with a communications team. And so when they’re trying to either communication or brand or some combination I think is a really good fit for this because those are places where having that authority and having that trust. There’s all kinds of studies that you can read the Edelman Trust Barometer about how people trust people more than brands. (Which you don’t need a study that’s just obvious). But when you’re doing branding or when you’re doing communication those areas lend themselves really well to this sort of employee advocacy work.
4 Steps to Creating an Employee Advocacy Program
To recap, Here are steps to create an employee advocacy program:
- Start the whole buy-in process with a workshop.
- Then, start with the pilot program and get your key influencers and early adopters as part of the program.
- Next, look at your metrics and then you can make social media as an ongoing continuous kind of initiative. So when you do it becomes your business as usual type of initiative.
- Give resources to employees like a manual and social Media tools to help.
Tools and Mobile Apps For Social Media
Bob: What are the tools that you recommend or have an affinity for?
Casey: There are tons. Dynamics, Techno, Google AMP. Google AMP is what I’ve worked with extensively. Now there’s some other ones that are more specific for specific industries Socio Squares is one that I’ve talked to recently DrumUp.IO is one that is interesting because it has some free versions that allow you to go just go in and create a kind of RSS feed for yourself which is sort of nice if you just want to try things out, and then some of the bigger tools have a baked in right.
So you know whether to tweak or spread about it has Bambu in those sorts of things. And then in the social selling you have Lincoln Navigator. What I think is important about when you look for a tool though is that there are some common things that a lot of the tools do but like right now there’s some of the tools that are specifically positioning themselves as an internal communications platform. So they do provide that template obviously functionality but they are really more about internal communication. So if that’s what you need that can be something that is you know lean in that way.
If you’re really looking at social selling you know look for something that has that that mobile app because you’re going to have sales people who are working from their phones most of the time and you know maybe they want an app or maybe they just want to do it from their email. But that’s a very different kind of user experience than then if you’re gearing it towards marketing teams who are probably sitting at a desk and working from their laptop and have the calendars and things that they’re looking for. So you know tons of good things out there actually working on a series right now where I’m in doing blog interviews with different employee advocacy solutions providers.
So next I’ll send you a link to that site that moves forward as well.
Bob: Then we can share this radio link to them to get there. The other question after that is I think that trending too right. So what does the training cadence do you establish. So everybody’s on board you know like OK. This is what our program is doing so people bought into it and they have this refresh. Do you have any kind of suggestion.
Casey: So there’s sort of two tiers of training in my mind. One is for the employees and that is you know that profile optimization training and then just some general kind of social media 101 engagement training. This is how you tag someone in a linkedIn post and this is how how often you should post something on LinkedIn or this is how you use Twitter at a conference or an industry trade show.
Casey: And so a lot of that is I don’t want to say basic social media things but it’s you know general kind of socially personal social media best practices.
And then you’re gonna support them with the content. The other level of training is for the people who are going to curate and manage those streams and that can be much more in-depth because you start to think about How much of our content should be our marketing content? How much should be third party content? How much should be geographically specific you know where do you put those things out. So that becomes a little bit more technical and a little bit more in-depth and most often it is though and marketing teams within the companies the social media marketers who are running those but not always.
Sometimes it might be you know someone who is part of a sales operations team our sales support team and they’re the one to know the content and know the customers the best so they’re actually the best positioned to kind of curate that content stream as it comes through. So for people like that, you might have to give them a lot more education about you know social media and measurement and how you’re going to do your analytics and how you’re going to optimize.
But definitely 2 tiers of training one for the employees who will be sharing it on their channels and then another tier that’s more strategic for the content curators to make sure that they not only just kind of know the basics but that they’re able to continue to understand what results they’re seeing and they can continue to iterate and optimize to get the best results.
Bob: This is great. And before we go I think that is. Let’s shift gears a little bit. What do you see the more social media in terms of platforms and the bed and organic?
Bob: And what’s your thoughts are on that side. Because you know we’ve seen so much stuff happening that Facebook is not what it was. Right. You’ve got the whole Instagram influence so side of things. There is so much going on within that platform. But you know one of the common things we know is the conversion from Instagram to directly correlate to sales or traffic is somewhat hard.
The Best Social Media Platforms to Brand your Company
Casey: I will maybe just pick two things you know internally with Instagram. And probably my personal favorite in terms of like what I use to share pictures of my kids and dog trips and things. And so with Instagram it is difficult because you only have that limited number of links that you can do and you start to get you know doing paid ads or if you do a story that you can swipe up in and the description you can kind of hide a link. So there’s something ways around it. But I think because it’s such an engaging platform right now and you look at the number of brands who are doing something like LinkedIn stories.
I think there’s a lot of open space right now for either brands or employee advocacy. But you know just in general for companies to start using LinkedIn stories. Pardon me if I live in the LinkedIn world often Instagram stories to really start telling better stories you need to see some really nice examples of that but that’s a space where I think when you look at I don’t know the numbers at the top of my head but the number of people who look at Instagram stories versus the number of people and companies who are creating Instagram stories.
It’s sort of like blogging was 10 years ago and podcasting was three years ago that there’s this asymmetry where you have a lot of people who are interested in consuming different stories and not yet a lot of brands that are confident in creating good Instagram Stories. So that is sort of one trend that’s probably not a surprise to everyone. But I think it is really interesting.
And the other which I think can be applied to Facebook are a lot of other places is just general switch from social media from being first it was all free and wonderful and kind of amazing. And then everything kind of got paid largely. And now I think we’re know that’s still important. But it’s a lot more of a closed community. So whether that’s Facebook Messenger or Snapchat kind of started this in some ways or even just people having their Instagram profile lockdown or whatever it might be. We’re seeing a lot less of sort of the big public conversations and more and more of closed and private communities or private conversations.
I mean even just group text messaging sometimes are that way/ I’ve a 17-year-old kid that’s you know his social media really. And so I think that that’s something that companies have to think about is how are we going to do that. You know there was kind of a big rush for everyone to get a chat but for a while. And I think that there’s a place for those but leading back to kind of my overall thinking and I’m put on a play for advocacy. I think if you have digitally savvy employees you’re going to be better prepared for this sort of closed one-to-one social media environment.
If you have employees who are comfortable talking about the brand or if they’re in a closed group of engineers or marketing professionals or whatever it might be you know they are still able to understand how this dynamic works and they know the brand story and without being you know overly trying to sell sell sell all the time they’re able to talk about it in a way that is helpful to people.
Bob: I literally think that’s a big thing. Now that’s great.
Bob: I mean that’s great. I think you’re right. If you get employers to do it as an assist to the man’s sales but actually they become you. Yours in no way you know so yeah but no this has been great. Casey, super wonderful. Thank you for sharing your insights. I had fun asking you all these questions and sharing mine so virtual audience reach you have they have any questions. One obvious LinkedIn so I guess yeah.
Casey: But Casey Hall on LinkedIn. My agency is Lumberjack Social which I don’t know if I even mentioned before which is my own marketing failure there. But go to lumberjack.social and there you can find some more about my agency. I have a whole page of resources that includes some templates and things that will help people with employee advocacy or doing social media audits and things so that resources page can be helpful. That’s Lumberjack Social Media on Twitter and Instagram and all those places.
Bob: This is great. Thank you so much and let’s do this again. Take care everyone.