3 Guiding Principles for Every Employee Advocacy Program

Social Conversations stock artAs the number of people and brands on social media expands at such significant rates, businesses are seeking ways to extend their messages beyond the brand handle. Identifying and activating powerful advocates — first and foremost, your employees — through an advocacy program enables you to make exponentially more social connections and amplify content to new audiences.

Marketers know it’s crucial to retain control of messaging and stay on brand, and a structured employee advocacy program is the next frontier in reinforcing messaging, promoting engagement and increased organic reach. Whether you’re testing the waters or have an established approach to advocacy, these three guiding principles are paramount:

1. Make sharing easy and accessible. Aside from social media managers and communications teams, most employees have primary roles and responsibilities that take time, energy and bandwidth. Taking to social to reinforce your marketing messages may not be their first priority. However, because so many individuals use social media in their personal lives, familiarity abounds and many employees are eager to share if you set them up for success.

Curating and distributing stories on a centralized advocacy platform provides a one-stop-shop that makes sharing quick, painless and personalized. Therefore, employees don’t have to chase down and evaluate content relevancy for their social audiences. Furthermore, you can rest assured knowing stories being shared are on brand and advance your marketing cause.

2. Consistently offer curated content. Happy employees can be your brand’s biggest fans. Personally invested and proud of their work, employees often want to share news and content, but their biggest obstacle is not knowing what or how often to share. News articles about the latest product launch may be a given, but what about a story that also features a competitor?

To provide teams with appropriate and approved content, marketers should curate a variety of messages, articles and resources — perhaps some more unexpected than others — that are both internal and third-party created. Also, target content by department or geographical location to engender greater diversity of stories and reach for employees. Taking the guesswork out of the process facilitates adoption, encourages repeat sharing and results in a more compelling experience.

3. Avoid creating an army of spambots. Ideally, marketers should provide approved content that lets employees simply click a button and share. However, it’s important to avoid hundreds or thousands of the same exact post. That’s just boring. Suggested and pre-populated copy is a necessity, but brands should ensure employees have the ability to customize with their voice and for their own audience. Brands that give employees the creative freedom to start relevant conversations will see greater engagement than those that restrict employees to sharing stock messages word-for-word. Offer guidance, but allow users to add their own perspective to each post. The result? Greater authenticity, which is crucial to any successful advocacy program.

In all channels, but especially social, people tend to trust the voice and opinions of others over a brand’s marketing messages. Therefore, remember and embrace the fact that employee advocates are real people with their own connections and perspectives. As a complement to traditional digital advertising and marketing efforts, a compelling and well-structured social employee advocacy program will have a profound effect on organic reach, employee engagement and overall market presence.


Andrew Caravella is the VP of marketing at Sprout Social, a social media management tool to help businesses find new customers and grow their social media presence.