When launching your employee advocacy program, there are steps you can take to make sure you bring in the right employees, train them in how to share and promote your messages on social media, and curate content. By doing these three things correctly, you’ll see great results.

In our recent webinar, Kristen O’Neill, Corporate Social Media Manager at TransUnion, shared tips from her experience rolling out an employee advocacy program.  

TransUnion is a Fortune 1,000 company and one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the United States. The Chicago-based organization has about 7,000 employees across 38 countries.

Employee advocacy appealed to TransUnion because it’s an organic method of driving leads, web traffic and conversions in addition to other goals both in and out of marketing. Content shared by employees is trusted and acted upon more than the same content shared by both brand accounts and company executives. Therefore, it only makes sense to incorporate your employees into your marketing strategies.

Here are some of the tips Kristen shared in the webinar on drawing interest from employees, training them and curating content while building an employee advocacy program.

Recruiting Employees

It’s important to keep in mind that employees need to volunteer to be part of a program. If it’s forced upon them, the program just won’t work.

Prior to rolling out the program, Kristen’s goal was to get far more people interested in it than she needed. Many companies make the mistake of trying to sway people who aren’t active on social media to be more comfortable with it in order to be active in the program. Instead, Kristen set her program up for success early by focusing on people that were already comfortable with social media and promoting company initiatives.

In order to garner employees’ interest, Kristen promoted the program through their employee intranet and TransUnion’s national sales meeting. In her communications, she emphasized how participating in an employee advocacy program is quick and easy by describing how it takes less than five minutes a week to contribute, and members get marketing-approved content to promote. This promotional material connected employees to a survey that she designed to ID people that would likely help the program succeed, find out what types of content they’d promote, and who would help curate content.  

A recruiting tip that Kristen recommends is to get the Social Selling Index (SSI) score from LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find out who your most influential employees are on social media. That way, you can reach out to those employees directly.

It’s also a good idea to get executives involved so they can spread the word to people in their departments.

You might also like, Employee Advocacy: What's in it For The Employees?

Onboarding and Training

After an employee expresses interest in an employee advocacy program, it’s important to make it extremely easy for them to get onboard. This means limiting the number of asks.

Don’t make employees take too many steps just to get involved in the program. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing the employees’ interest. Anything that you might consider a “nice to have” rather than a “must” is something you don’t need employees to do. For example, employees linking their social accounts to GaggleAMP is a must. Having them complete an e-learning session on LinkedIn profiles is a nice to have.

Kristen also recommends conducting live training sessions whenever possible rather than sending recorded training sessions. It may be difficult to scale, but live training sessions are more effective, and it gives people the opportunity to ask questions in real-time.

During a typical 20-minute training session, Kristen covers why the employee advocacy program is great by including statistics, successes and anecdotal stories. The GaggleAMP platform walkthrough takes up about 80% of the training, she said.

Kristen also includes best practices such as don’t share everything, edit captions that are on a subject you’re an expert in, and try to tailor captions so they’re in your voice. She wraps up the training sessions with reminders of the companies social media policy.

It’s a good idea to follow up the training sessions with an email that summarizes what was covered and asks people for their favorite types of content to share.

In order to keep employees interested in the employee advocacy program, you should send out a thank you email to employees a couple times a year acknowledging them for their contribution and highlighting top members. The email can include a survey on how the program is going to find out how you can improve it.

Content Curation

After you have employees up and running it’s time to send them content to share and promote. This is where curating third-party content comes in.

In order to find good third-party content, use Google Alerts, Google News, subscribe to newsletters from appropriate publications covering your industry, follow social influencers and use content from customers, employees and partners.

When writing captions for employees to post content, make sure to write them in first-person and make them conversational. When curating content, Kristen recommends limiting the number of verticals your program supports, unless someone on your team is dedicated to curating some of those verticals for you.

When distributing content for employees to share, leverage the tagging feature on GaggleAMP. Tagging by department allows people to only get content that’s relevant to them rather than getting content that was curated with another department in mind. The results from the survey you sent out in the recruiting process will help you decide what types of content to share to each department.

These tips are all strategic methods that worked for Kristen at TransUnion and definitely carries over to other organizations no matter the size or industry. Having said that, it’s important to formulate a strategy that works best for your organization. Keep these lessons in mind when building your employee advocacy program, but do what works best for your specific needs.

Getting Started With Employee Advocacy