Rackspace Earns Over $1 Million through Employee Sharing

June 14, 2017

Colleagues

Editor's Note: This post was contributed by Elizabeth Jurewicz, Social Enablement Strategist at Rackspace.

Rackspace is a world-leading managed cloud services provider. We offer expertise and a layer of support on top of the leading cloud technologies to match our customers’ applications and workloads with the right solutions.

Fanatical Support is at the heart of everything we do and is the ideal that guides every interaction with our customers. We rely on our employees to provide expertise and deliver incredible service day in and day out, so I view our social enablement program as an opportunity to help our employees understand the company vision, and empower them to share our knowledge and values with their personal networks.

Helping employees share on social media is good for everyone. Employees become more engaged, expand their social networks, and build their professional brands. Your business gets the opportunity to raise brand awareness, expand its reach, and attract the best talent.

Our employee advocacy program started with 15 original social ambassadors. Now we have over 300 employees sharing monthly, generating over $1 million (annualized) in earned media value.

Here’s how to create a sustainable employee advocacy program, Rackspace-style.

1. Lay the Groundwork

My official title at Rackspace is Social Enablement Strategist. When I started in the position, the main mission was to train employees to engage on social media responsibly, in accordance with our social media policy.

The training evolved organically from there. After employees felt confident enough to start sharing on Rackspace content, they realized they needed help updating their professional profiles. Within a year, employees were asking for additional training on how to create their own content.

While training was building momentum, sharing on social media was still very manual for employees. They needed to subscribe to several newsletters in order to be notified about content, which required them to then manually share content across each of their social networks. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t have a lot of participation. We knew we’d need to make the process easier if we wanted people to share.

2. Make the Case

It was time to consider investing in an employee advocacy platform. I didn’t sugarcoat it; I told management, “Either we make this easier, or employees aren’t going to do it. It’s too much to ask them to subscribe to all these channels and manually share.”

To prove the business value of employees’ social activity, we focused on earned media value. To calculate this, I took our Cost Per Engagement (CPE) number and multiplied it by the engagement across our employees’ extended network. That made the issue more concrete: If we used paid strategies to reach this amount of engagement, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It was also important to point out that our employees’ networks were a net new audience. Without employee advocacy, we couldn’t reach these people as effectively or efficiently. With a solid employee advocacy program, not only could we reach that audience, but the message was also coming from someone they knew and trusted.

With all that data in hand, management was convinced we needed to invest in an employee advocacy platform. We chose LinkedIn Elevate. It made sense for us; as a B2B company, our audience is most active on LinkedIn and we liked how employees could use the platform to share across social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Finally, Elevate has robust analytics reporting that made it easy to track progress and optimize our program.

3. Recruit Your Starting Team

When we were ready to launch our pilot with Elevate, all the training we had been doing made it easy to onboard participants, since we already had an ongoing conversation about social media. I wasn’t just popping into their inbox for the first time, asking them to do something for the company. They already understood the benefits of social sharing, and saw how Elevate would make that easier for them.

Not every company can invest months into training, of course. My recommendation is to at minimum start the conversation around the value of employee advocacy before you rollout a platform. Meet with leaders, understand their objectives and incorporate them into your plans for the rollout. Be sure to exemplify all the behaviors you want to see from the participants. Ultimately, you are the best advocate for your program.

4. Keep It Top of Mind

Like with most new programs, we knew that there would be an initial burst of enthusiasm when we launched, and that we needed to capitalize on that momentum to make it a habit.

At rollout, I instituted a 6-pronged plan for reminders and feedback. If that’s too much for your program, try at least three of the following:

  1. Weekly email reminders. Every week I send a little Elevate newsletter that covers what’s new, who’s new to the program, and kudos to my top performers.

  2. Automated reminders. You can set automatic notifications and daily emails through Elevate, too.

  3. Monthly results emails. Show your employees the impact their shares have, to keep them engaged. Your platform should make it easy to report on performance. Elevate also sends a monthly progress report.

  4. Calendar reminders. I set up an optional twice-weekly calendar reminder encouraging employees to check out what was new in Elevate and share content. Most of our employees opted in.

  5. Internal chat channel. We have an Elevate-specific channel for announcements and alerts.

  6. “Office hours.” I offer meeting times twice a week for employees who need 1-on-1 guidance or training. It’s definitely a time investment, but it increases engagement and participants share what they learn with the whole team.

Regardless of how you do it, the big takeaway is to put your employees first. When they’re confident, prepared, and fully understand the benefits, you’re far more likely to have a sustainable, successful program.

5. Report Your Results

We have enjoyed amazing success with our program. In Q1 alone, we had over $260,000 worth of earned media value. That’s over $1 million annually. But it’s not all about increased reach:

  • Employees are sharing 6x more than before they had Elevate

  • Job views on our Company Page have doubled

  • Company Page views overall are up 6x

  • Our employees are receiving 4x more connection requests than before

  • Content engagement is up 5x

We have come a long way in under two years — from relying on newsletters to distribute content to having 300 employees actively sharing and engaging with their networks. We designed the program for success by laying the groundwork first, getting upper management buy-in, and providing ongoing reminders and feedback. Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow our blueprint and replicate our success in your company.

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