When Chris Winston of Colonial Life searched for an employee advocacy platform to get his company active on social media, he was met with unique challenges.
Due to concerns over breaking compliance regulations, Colonial Life was very much against the idea of employees sharing company links on social media, so it baked this view into its social media policy for years. Winston, the company’s Director of Corporate Communications, worked to change this mindset by implementing GaggleAMP as his organization’s employee advocacy platform, and the results speak for themselves.
When he began his search, ambassadors of Colonial Life shared just 50 social media posts, but in 2019 the same people shared more than 20,000 social media messages, reaching more than 16 million people.
“For about a decade or so, our company viewed social media as basically the riskiest thing we could possibly do,” Winston said. “But now our culture is much more willing, excited, and encouraging of social media. We've updated our social media policy three times in the last five years to be more encouraging of people using social media, so GaggleAMP has been huge. It's been amazing.”
Colonial Life uses GaggleAMP across the organization but placed an emphasis on its salespeople to take advantage of the platform so that they could greatly expand their social media presence.
When sales reps leverage employee advocacy, they can build new connections, boost their credibility and influence by sharing valuable information for their target market, engage with prospective clients, and more. Social selling is a major part of any modern-day social media savvy sales department, and a successful employee advocacy program greatly strengthens any social selling effort.
After almost four years, there’s been a noticeable difference between Colonial Life salespeople who use GaggleAMP and those who do not.
Sales reps who were active on GaggleAMP saw two-to-three times the company’s average sales growth in the last year.
“Successful salespeople know that they need to be engaging on social media, and that's why they're on GaggleAMP," Winston said. "It’s helping them market themselves and our company. It's incredibly important.”
Early Struggle to Find an Employee Advocacy Platform
Before Colonial Life started using GaggleAMP, it tried to get employees active on social media without an employee advocacy platform.
Winston emailed content he wanted employees to promote on their personal accounts and included captions and images along with the links. He knew that this method did not offer a way to feasibly measure the performance of posts employees shared, but that was not his goal at the time. He simply wanted his employees to get started with promoting Colonial Life on social media.
With an employee advocacy platform like GaggleAMP, managers can see how much engagement, clicks, reach, and other social media KPIs an employee advocacy program garnered in order to measure progress.
Regardless, the lack of ability to measure KPIs was not the problem Winston faced.
“At the time, we probably had five-or-six thousand independent sales agents across the country,” Winston said. “But the most we ever saw share individual posts across any channel was four pieces. Not 4,000, not 400, not 40 – four.”
Salespeople are extremely busy, and any time away from their daily tasks is time they’re not generating revenue, Winston said. However, if he wanted to turn things around, Winston knew he needed an employee advocacy platform that makes it extremely easy, and takes minimal time and steps for employees to share suggested posts on social media.
‘They’ve Felt Like a Partner Rather Than a Vendor Since Day One.’
Colonial Life looked at four other employee advocacy platforms before it looked into GaggleAMP.
As a large organization with over 1,000 employees and another few thousand affiliated sales agents, employee advocacy vendors wanted Colonial Life to start out its subscription with a higher number of users than it was comfortable with, Winston said.
“They wanted us to go big,” he said. “They wanted us to start out with at least 500 users at the bare minimum. It was a big commitment. We hadn't done anything like this before, and I just knew we couldn't do anything like that without knowing for sure what I could get in return, honestly. The process really became discouraging.”
At that point, Colonial Life started speaking with GaggleAMP who came back with a minimum number of users the company was much more comfortable starting out with. The insurance firm launched GaggleAMP internally in January of 2015 and upgraded its subscription within a few months after it felt more comfortable with the employee advocacy platform.
When starting out with GaggleAMP, Colonial Life focused its employee advocacy program on a select group of salespeople who were already promoting the brand on social media. They were the most likely to be able to pick up the program quickly and see early success as they were more social media savvy, Winston said.
Soon after, colleagues around the organization got word of the program and were interested in boosting the brand’s social media presence as well as their own. Seeing a clear boost in social media activity and change in the organization’s general view of social media, drove the company to upgrade its subscription. Colonial Life has 500 active users on GaggleAMP today.
Winston not only credits the functionality and ease of use of GaggleAMP as to how Colonial Life turned around its use of social media but the relationship with GaggleAMP’s staff as a major benefit.
“They’ve felt like a partner rather than a vendor since day one,” Winston said. “GaggleAMP has always, always, always been willing to help us solve any problems we're seeing, and help our program to be more successful. The people there have always been willing to talk us through anything. It's felt like a partnership every step of the way, and everyone at GaggleAMP has been a pleasure to work with.”
Colonial Life still uses GaggleAMP to support its employees and sales agents on social media. It looks to continue to strategically curate content, promote its brand, and expand the reach of its sales reps. The company credits its employee advocacy program and relationship with GaggleAMP for taking it from excluding social media as a marketing channel, to strategically leveraging social media to generate revenue.