Employee advocacy is exactly as it sounds: it’s all about getting employees to be advocates for their own employers on social media. It runs on the ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ principle, whereby employees share favourable content that paints their organisation in a really positive way. The point? To market a company by engaging its people in a social way, so as to create and project a positive culture.

How does it actually work though, and what are the dos and don’ts?  To get the lowdown I speak to Glenn Gaudet, Founder and President of GaggleAMP to find out all about it.

Listen to the interview on iTunes, SoundCloud or keep reading for a summary of our conversation. This week’s tip of the week is Visually and there’s still time to get involved with #smlondon LIVE! 2016.

What would you say is the main challenge that employee advocacy addresses?

Well, certainly there is the aspect of the online marketing, and really getting the amplification impact of having lots of people who already have an affinity for your organisation, your employees, to be able to easily share content that’s being put out by the company. But there’s also the engagement aspect of it, which really, the more engaged your employees are, the more it impacts your culture. So you have this two-sided effect. One is certainly from the marketing, which usually leads to sales, and on the other side you have engagement, which really helps drive culture. So it’s a really powerful combination of bringing people together to be part of an overall strategy that impacts the sales, the marketing, and the culture.

Is employee advocacy better suited for large companies?

It depends on what your goals are. So obviously for a very large company, it’s great because you can tap into thousands or tens of thousands of employees. I remember when we, going back a few years, we had a small company come on, they had 17 employees. And this is what they told us, over a three-month period, they tripled their web traffic, they quadrupled their lead flow by getting the employees that were on our platform to just use easily share content. So even in a small situation, it doesn’t take a lot of people to have big impact.

You’re going to have some employees that are loud on social, they’re out there all the time, they are part of it, they get it. And then, on the other end of the spectrum, you’re going to have employees that aren’t really sure about what to do and what to say on social. When you’ve got that full range, you need to be able to satisfy the needs of both ends, plus everyone in the middle.

Which social channels do you see giving the best results for your clients?

Well, it’s all dependant on what your business is, so in a B2B setting, you’re going to see a lot more activity on LinkedIn and Twitter in terms of results. And in a B2C setting, you might see more on Pinterest, you might see more on Facebook. So it really depends on what you’re trying to do, where the message should be landing. Because that’s the thing that we advise all of our customers to do is, when you’re thinking about what platforms to develop your social strategy around, you really have to look at where your audience is spending their time. If they’re spending their time on Twitter, you want to have a presence there. If they are spending their time on LinkedIn, you want to have a presence there. And you carry that through on your employee side, too, because this is where we need to be. Do we need to be on Twitter? Do we need to be on LinkedIn? As we are a B2B, we sell to other companies. So I can tell you, from our perspective, a lot of our focus is on Twitter and LinkedIn. That’s where we get the most impact for what we do. But if you’re out there and you’re B2C, that’s probably not going to be the same.

Do employees really want to share content about their company with friends and family on Facebook?

Again, you have to think about this as a strategy, a broader strategy, a communication strategy, and it’s not about just getting your product out there all the time. In fact, we have customers, we have some B2C brands that you would know, and when you look at the kinds of content that they are asking their employees to share, whether it be on Facebook or somewhere else, they’re not talking about the products per se, but a lot of times, they are talking about the impact that they may be having in the local community. And then, all of a sudden, you see employees who are really proud about sharing the same, “Listen, I’m part of an organisation that’s having real impact.”

So, again, it depends on what your communication strategy is. What are you trying to get out there? What are you trying to have impact with? Because, in a broader sense, when you take this out of the realm of just, “I’m trying to get more leads for my product,” what you’re doing is you’re impacting your brand. And how do you want to impact your brand with the right kinds of messages that are going out, whether it be from the corporate social assets, as well as the employee social assets?

And you shouldn’t expect that every employee is going to share everything you put out there for them. That’s not what this is all about. It’s about giving them the choice so that you share the content that they’re comfortable with sharing.

How can you make sure employees don’t all share the same content at the same time?

There are certain things that we do to help reduce that impact. But, at the end of the day, you also have to look at what the crossover is. So in other words, if you and I have exactly the same people in our contact list on LinkedIn, you might actually start seeing some of that because we might be connected to 100 people in the same company together and then we start seeing that. But the reality is, once you get outside that organisation, the people in the outside, they’re not connected to everyone in the organisation. So they’re not seeing the fact that maybe 100 people shared a message that was similar. People always look at it from the wrong perspective usually, when I hear that, is they’re not looking at it from the outside world, which is really the audience that you’re trying to get.

How do you keep employee advocacy users engaged?

Well, in our platform, we have a couple of things. One is we have a leaderboard, which gets those competitive juices. So you can see, “How are some of the other folks doing in my company compared to me?” And we see amazing camaraderie that’s built out of that. People build entire programs just around the leaderboard. It’s powerful. In addition to that, there is also a reward system. So GaggleAMP gives the company the ability to add rewards. They don’t have to. We’re seeing about 50% of our clients using the reward system. But again, it’s completely up to them.

How do you measure return on investment of employee advocacy?

One of the things that we do is we actually measure the ROI for our clients. And there’s a number of different ways that you can measure. Some of the easy ways is, first of all, the message reach that you achieved. If you think about it, you put something out on your corporate Twitter account, what’s the average lifespan of that? It’s not very long. And, all of a sudden, now you have the ability to increase the reach, plus the chances of those people seeing the content, by people sharing this over a period of time. And that’s the nice thing about this. This is not just, all of a sudden, blasted out to everyone. This is really about organically sharing content over a period of time so that it gets the maximum exposure. So if you think about it from that point of view, what’s it going to have impact on? Well, you’re going to see ROI, first of all from the reach. That’s one. That’s a no-brainer. You’re going to see click-throughs, assuming you’re putting links in the content that comes back to your website. And then from the links, what happens? You’re driving people to the website. Now they’re downloading forms and you’re capturing leads.

So there’s a direct correlation to the amount of leads that you’re getting. And then because what our stuff does is it allows you to actually get that close-loop marketing. So we work with marketing automation tools so that we can do lead-source passing to the marketing automation tool. The marketing automation tool passes that to the CRM. Next thing you know, you know exactly from what message that this particular deal came in on. So if you close the deal for $5,000, for $20,000, you know exactly where that came from now. So it’s really powerful. Even though you’re getting all these people to share, there is that data that comes in with it, which is a really big piece of this.

Who inspires you on social media?

Well, one of the people that I’ve been following is Richard Branson. I found him to be a breath of fresh air in the sense that the things that he’s talking about speak about more than just his products really, and really speak about creating a great culture, and being part of the world, and having impact, and adding value to the knowledge of their customers, but just to the world in general. And to me, that’s really refreshing is seeing that. I like to think that what we’re building here is something very special, and we constantly innovate so that we can add value to our customers, and then have impact to the broader world, and our employees, and the people we do business with. So, to me, Richard Branson has been really a shining star in all of that.

Follow Glenn on Twitter @glenng.

Image: Shutterstock.

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About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a social and digital marketing agency.

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