A Step-By-Step Guide to Building a Strategic, Sustainable Employee Advocacy Program

March 6, 2018

Engaged Employees Collaborating in Office

The Wright brothers didn’t become famous for being the first people to ever put a plane in the air. Their claim to fame is achieving the “first controlled, sustained flight” of a powered aircraft.

As these heralded inventors — and many others throughout history — would tell you, oftentimes the biggest challenge isn’t getting something off the ground, but keeping it afloat.

So as we look at developing an employee advocacy program in your organization, the crucial question is not how to get started, but how to keep it going. In six steps, we’ll explain how you can build a sustainable engine to help employees elevate your brand effectively, authentically, and perpetually.

Step One: Lay Out Your Employee Advocacy Strategy

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This adage predates Wilbur and Orville’s flying machine, but it’s still as true as the day it was first uttered. Any strategic initiative is doomed if the proper measures aren’t taken to lay groundwork.

Before launching a formal employee advocacy program, answer some key questions:

  • Who will be accountable for keeping things on track?
  • Which resources will be dedicated to this program?
  • What specific goals are we trying to achieve? More reach? More followers? More leads?

That last one is most critical. Define your objectives and get everyone to align around them. Visualize how the program will fit within your overall content marketing strategy. Determine which KPIs you will track. Set milestones and deadlines for reaching them. Set yourself up for measurable success.

Step Two: Select Your Employee Advocacy Heroes

In an ideal world, you’ll kick off an employee advocacy program and everybody in the company will immediately jump on board with full engagement. In reality, this isn’t likely.

What we like to recommend is this: define a subgroup of potential “heroes” within your organization who can help drive program adoption by running with it and setting an example. Good candidates for such a task would be workers who are already active on social media, are interested in building their personal brands, and are enthusiastic about your business and its message.

Social proof is a powerful motivator. When other employees see others leading the way, and receiving support from management, they are far more likely to participate themselves. And by the time your program starts getting widespread buy-in, it will already have momentum built up via these avid early adopters.

Step Three: Highlight Employee Advocacy Benefits and Make It Easy

Seeing others do something can be compelling, but not as much as clearly seeing the value of said behavior.

What’s in it for me?

Answering this question for employees in convincing fashion can be the difference between getting obligatory participation or getting fervent, self-driven advocacy. Focus on the ways in which this program will benefit the employee directly. For example:

  • A focus on optimizing your LinkedIn presence, and growing your network, will help you professionally in the long term.
  • Sharing quality content relevant to your niche helps elevate your standing as a thought leader and influencer.
  • Training and enablement for the program will help you become a more purposeful and effective social media user.
  • When the company expands its reach and grows, that’s good for everyone working there.

Reducing the barriers to entry is also a key consideration. This is where LinkedIn Elevate can provide a big edge, with tools to make it easy for employees to access curated content on the go, share it easily, and view its impact.

Step Four: Kick Off Your Employee Advocacy Program

By documenting a strategy, selecting your early adopters, and clearly establishing the benefits for all involved, you have now prepped your organization for a sustainable employee advocacy program. Time to make it happen.

Aligning your launch with a big event in the industry can be an easy way to elicit social conversations. Publish a big new content asset that employees will be inspired to share with their networks. Get top-level execs visibly involved from the get-go.

Step Five: Reinforce the Habit

The single most vital step on this list. Your employee advocacy program will only be successful if it sustains and expands over time. Here are a few ways to go about this:

  • Create a social media policy that encourages company advocacy, laying out specific guidelines around what to share and why. Then include this information in your onboarding materials for new employees.
  • Put in place a content production team, tasked with uploading sharable content to the Elevate platform at a regular cadence.
  • Consistent communication and transparency. Continually make employees aware of interesting stuff their networks might appreciate.
  • Reward active participation. This could entail incentives, or something as simple as having a company leader publicly call out strong advocates on a regular basis.
  • Equip employees with the LinkedIn Elevate mobile app. This enables them to find and post relevant content in a matter of seconds, wherever they are.

Step Six: Measure Your Employee Advocacy and Make Adjustments

Ongoing measurement and optimization are key to any strategic endeavor. Fortunately, this is one of the foremost advantages of LinkedIn Elevate. Track those KPIs that you identified in Step 1, and alter your approach as needed in order to keep things moving in the right direction.

The most important employee advocacy metrics will generally fall into three buckets: content engagement, employee activation, and business outcomes. Through Elevate, you can track the program’s impact on website visits, Company Page follows, and even new hires.

Ready for Liftoff?

Companies who don’t have an employee advocacy program are missing out; the practice drives drastically higher brand awareness and click-through rates, at a time where organic reach is growing elusive. By following this blueprint, you can create an employee advocacy strategy that takes flight and keeps reaching new heights.

Take the next step by learning more about LinkedIn Elevate and seeing if it’s the right fit for your organization.