How Bank of Ireland Uses Employee Advocacy to Reach Out to Customers

August 10, 2017

Customer Reach

At Bank of Ireland, our employees knew that social sharing was valuable, especially for sales. But there were cultural reasons for steering clear of online social activity: In the wake of Ireland’s financial crisis, employees were reticent about sharing content with outsiders. What if the information wasn’t ready to be shared? What if it damaged the bank’s brand? These were valid concerns from employees about employee advocacy – and responding to their concerns required a combination of training and technology.

We were fortunate to have leadership who believed in the need to change our culture around social sharing. As a start, our chief executive for retail banking asked employees to use internal social software to share news from various groups. Next up was an official rollout of LinkedIn, including Elevate and Sales Navigator – also supported by the same chief executive, who used these tools himself and encouraged others to do so. Top-down adoption makes a difference when you’re trying to create a shift in thinking: It puts employees at ease about engaging in social sharing themselves.

Educating employees on advocacy basics

Since we were starting from a place where most employees were doing little with social sharing, training was in order. We started with the basics, such as building a LinkedIn profile and getting in the habit of using LinkedIn daily. This was especially important for our sales people, since we saw value in helping them prospect for customers through social activity.

We created social professionals out of our employees by focusing on personal brand building in the digital age, which we delivered through training, workshops, team briefings and one-to-one demos.  In addition to this we also had some early adopters of our new tools share real-life success stories with employees. One of our salespeople explained that after just three months of sharing content, he was able to schedule several coffee meetings with prospects. That kind of testimonial gave employees a good reason to try out social sharing for themselves.

We also explained that through LinkedIn Elevate, employees would see a wide range of content that was already vetted and approved by department leaders. Anything employees chose from Elevate was available to share with connections, eliminating the fear of inadvertently broadcasting content that wasn’t meant for an outside audience.

It was important, we believed, to educate our curators - those who were providing content to employees -  on the difference between advocacy and marketing. We didn’t want them to simply sell the bank all the time – curators needed to provide news about our industry so that our employees would find the content interesting and would be viewed as trusted resources. We suggested a “rule of five”: For every story curators shared about Bank of Ireland, they should also share four stories that weren’t focused on the bank.

Good word-of-mouth boosts adoption

Our employee advocacy programme has resulted in a flourish in thought leadership, with full visibility on reach and engagement of key communications. Employee advocacy has created true social professionals for us: Employees are sharing content 5X as often as they did before using Elevate; that increase in sharing has netted us €368k in earned media value in just 7 months. It’s also influencing 2x faster employee connection growth.

And then there’s the organic growth of employee advocacy, driven solely by the good word of mouth about the program. They promote the employee advocacy platform with each other, saying it’s amazing and that their colleagues have to start using it. That’s as much a measure of our success as the engagement metrics – and it reminds us how much more effective employee advocacy will become in the future, as we add more people to the program.

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