5 Myths About Employee Advocacy

November 17, 2016

5 Myths About Employee Advocacy

A myth that becomes ingrained in culture can be a powerful negative influence. For example, back in the days of Christopher Columbus, people thought the world was flat. That myth kept Europeans from exploring the world for hundreds of years.

Actually, people in Columbus’ day knew the world was round. The myth that they thought it was flat keeps us from better understanding history.

Despite teachers’ best efforts, millions of people still believe that folks in 1492 thought the world was flat.

Isn’t it amazing how a simple misconception can have so much staying power?

There are myths making the rounds right now that are keeping companies from investing in employee advocacy. Even though we know it works—employee shares on social media reach more people, are regarded as more trustworthy, and get more clicks—the myths are stronger than the proven benefits.

It’s time to get rid of some of these harmful misconceptions once and for all. When you pitch employee advocacy to upper management, you may hear the following phrases. Read on to see how to bust the myths and make your case.

1. “Employees can just copy what we share on our social channels.”

This myth seems to get rid of the need for a formal employee advocacy program entirely. Just post regularly to your Company Page, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and instruct employees to re-share. Simple, right?

There are two reasons that having employees parrot the company messaging is less effective, though. First, employees are far more enthusiastic to share content that is 1) interesting to them, 2) interesting to their audience, and 3) in their own voice. You can mandate that employees hit the “retweet” button on every corporate tweet, but don’t be surprised if the initiative doesn’t last.

Second, one of the reasons people’s personal social shares are so powerful is they are authentically presented with the genuine intent of entertaining or informing their audience. If you trade that personal voice for a corporate brand voice, you’re unlikely to see the same level of engagement.

2. “Our employees don’t want to share work stuff on their personal accounts.”

Again, this one makes sense on the surface. We build a reputation on our social media accounts. We connect with friends, family, and followers on the strength of that reputation. Will people actually want to put that reputation at risk to share corporate-curated content?

There may actually be some resistance at first. But the truth is that employee advocacy holds substantial benefits for employees. They can build their professional network, develop a reputation as a thought leader, and contribute to the business in a meaningful way.

When you clearly explain the real, intrinsic motivations for sharing, employees tend to get excited about sharing. And, of course, it helps to provide content that sparks their genuine interest and compels a share.

3. “Social sharing will cut into our employees’ productivity.”

Even as we enter the second decade of ubiquitous social media, some employers still see anything social as a waste of company time. You don’t want your employees spending all day on Facebook and LinkedIn searching for articles to share—when will they get any work done?

It’s true that social media can be a time sink. None of us are immune to that. But employee advocacy doesn’t have to be. If you have 2-3 curators spending an hour a week finding content, your employees will have plenty to share without wasting a second. Employee advocacy platforms can even help find the content, cutting curation time even further.

Plus, employee advocacy tends to increase employee engagement, which in turn leads to more productivity, not less.

4. “Our audience isn’t on social.”

Social media is all well and good for B2C brands and mom-and-pop shops. But B2B companies that deal with C-level decision makers at enterprise companies aren’t likely to find their audience on social media, right?

Just as social media isn’t purely for wasting time anymore, it’s also no longer the domain of teenagers and college kids. If your target audience is high-level decision makers, your employee shares can absolutely find them on LinkedIn. Our research shows there are 61 million senior-level influencers on LinkedIn, as well as 40 million other decision makers. Many of your decision makers are in your employees’ second or third-degree networks.

5. "You can't prove the ROI of employee advocacy."

This myth is usually the final nail in the coffin for an employee advocacy program. Sure, all that social sharing might give you some brand lift, or make your employees happier to come to work, but how can you measure the actual return on investment? It’s just too nebulous.

This argument may hold for a program without strategy, goals, or metrics—but that just means your program should include all three. It’s entirely possible to measure the quantifiable impact of employee advocacy. You can measure marketing objectives like amount of engagement, new Company Page followers, web traffic, and subscribers. With the right platform, you can track the benefits to the sales department, too, measured in new opportunities, new connections, even contribution to closed deals.

Don’t Be Myth-Taken

It can take courage to overturn a myth—like the courage that led Columbus to set sail, or the courage to tell everyone they’re wrong about Columbus.

Given the benefits of employee advocacy, dispelling these five myths is well worth the act of bravery. Let your decision makers know that it is possible to develop a sustainable employee advocacy program. It is possible to foster employee enthusiasm without compromising productivity, and it’s certainly possible to find your brand’s audience and engage them on social media.

Most importantly, it’s not only possible, it’s easy to track the ROI of your program, provided it’s implemented strategically and with the right platform as a partner.

LinkedIn Elevate is the smarter employee advocacy solution that leverages LinkedIn data to maximize program success. Learn more about LinkedIn Elevate.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash and Tobias van Schneider.