In the world of social media, reach is everything. But in today’s highly competitive digital environment, reaching more people at a lower spend is an ever-present challenge. That’s where employee advocacy comes in. It’s the easiest way to extend your reach on social, without overextending your budget.
Employee Advocacy by Sprout—an employee-driven advocacy hub built into your social media management platform—makes it possible to boost reach while cutting ad costs by turning your employees into brand advocates. Because some of the best advocates for your brand aren’t paid creators or influencers; they’re the people you see, in person or virtually, every day.
Amid strain put on marketers from declining organic reach and the ad spend that comes with it, employee advocacy is a key component of your broader social strategy. In fact, Gartner predicts 90% of B2B social media marketing strategies will have scaled employee advocacy programs by 2023.
Let’s get into why adding an employee advocacy program to your strategy is the secret sauce behind cooking up better business results.
What is employee advocacy, and why is it important?
Employee advocacy is when a person who works for a company promotes the brand or company on social media (think: posting news about the business or a selfie with company swag).
An internal program, plus a platform like Employee Advocacy by Sprout, makes it easy to encourage employees to post more and to track business results.
Social media is a crucial channel for businesses to connect with consumers. But social teams are spread thin. Leveraging employees’ voices provides extra advertising that can extend your reach and grow your digital audiences. As Sprout’s Senior Manager of Social Media Rachael Samuels explains, “Advocacy is important right now because there are a lot of challenges social professionals are dealing with, including algorithm shifts, lean teams and budget cuts.”
Encouraging employees to post about their authentic, positive experiences at your company has deep cross-departmental business benefits, like:
- Extending sales team networks and leads
- Creating buzz and increasing impressions for your marketing team
- Boosting employee engagement for your HR team
- Increasing earned media for your PR team
- Building trust with talent prospects for your recruiting team
From brand amplification to building trust, let’s dive into three major benefits of employee advocacy.
Increase brand awareness—even on a decreased budget
Employee advocacy is your secret superpower—employee posts connect you to new audiences without increasing your ad spend. In fact, increasing brand awareness is the most important business outcome of these programs, according to The 2022 Sprout Social Index™.
“Advocacy has driven a higher number of impressions than any single one of our social channels, driving more than 8M impressions just this year,” Rachael tells us. “Advocacy really is our social superpower. We’re able to reach beyond our core audience and tap into our team’s extensive networks.”
Employee posts boost buzz around your business from trusted voices. There’s a reason 68% of marketers report their organizations have an employee advocacy program—amplifying employee voices by making posting easier comes with massive benefits.
Build brand trust with future fans and talent
In the consumer-brand relationship, trust is everything—58% of consumers say trust is the reason they pick one brand over a competitor. This is where the voice of your workforce shines. So much so, that employee voice is about three times more credible than that of a CEO’s.
Employee advocacy posts create a steady flow of digital word-of-mouth marketing from trusted voices. People want to learn about new things from people they know and trust—after all, a friend’s recommendation is the most impactful reason consumers purchase on social.
This can also help win trust with prospective employees—especially important since The 2022 Sprout Social Index™ found that finding qualified talent is the number one challenge marketers face this year.
When it comes to what it’s actually like to work at your company, there’s no voice more trustworthy than that of your employees—use this and empower them to share.
Maintain consistent brand messaging and fuel thought leadership
Even if you already encourage employee advocacy, there are a few common blockers that may stop them from posting, including bandwidth and anxiety.
Similarly, you may be hesitant to encourage employees posting for fears of rogue brand messaging.
A formal employee advocacy program solves both of these problems. On the employee side, ready-to-share content makes it easier for them to post about authentic work experiences, industry news, brand videos and more on social media without second-guessing their content.
On the business side, you’ll feel confident that content employees share is on-brand by providing pre-approved social messages and content to choose from.
By removing barriers and empowering your employees to post, you’re helping them become thought leaders—and thought leadership can have real business impact. About 47% of buyers say thought leadership led them to discover and purchase from a company. And with 68% of US adults online saying they don’t think companies share interesting content, a steady stream of fresh perspectives from employees diversifies the content your social team can share, too.
Stand-out features: Employee Advocacy by Sprout
Now that you know how employee advocacy can supercharge your strategy, you’re ready for the next step: get an employee advocacy platform.
Employee Advocacy by Sprout is a hub for your employee-driven brand amplification tools. On the employee side, it’s an internal “news outlet” for staff to find and share content to their personal social networks. And on the admin side, you can seamlessly curate shareable content, create internal newsletters and track ROI with analytics and reports. And with Advocacy’s deeper integration with Sprout, you can now compose and publish posts for Advocacy and your brand’s social media channels, all in one place.
All of this removes barriers—for you and your employees—to make advocacy a seamless part of your strategy. As Sprout’s Product Marketing Manager Rae Repanshek explains, “Running an advocacy program shouldn’t feel like a second job. It should be a natural extension of the amazing work social media managers and marketers are already doing. And that’s what Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social does.”
Let’s walk through the four stand-out features of our platform that will lighten your load while supercharging your strategy.
Integration with Sprout Social
Employee advocacy should be part of your social strategy—not another bowling pin for marketers to juggle.
With Employee Advocacy by Sprout, your social media management and advocacy efforts are combined in one hub, cutting out extra workload. You can create content for employees to share within Sprout in the same place as you would compose a social media post for your brand channels.
“Employee advocacy has become a much bigger part of our customer conversations, and our leading brands are revamping their social media and internal communications strategies to include employee advocacy programs,” Rae explains. “That’s why we’re continuing to integrate our Employee Advocacy platform even more deeply with our core Sprout platform and investing in product development to deliver valuable features our customers have been asking for.”
Improved LinkedIn post sharing for a better user experience
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is a crucial platform for sharing thought leadership and company news. Ensuring your employees can engage with your company’s content through Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform—and that reshared posts looked natural—was a top priority.
We’ve been enhancing features to make sharing LinkedIn content through our Employee Advocacy solution more seamless. With the integrated compose experience, any LinkedIn posts you create for your brand accounts can easily be made available to your employees.
This means your employees can reshare LinkedIn posts you curate for them from the Advocacy platform, instead of having to go find the post on the network—cutting out a search step that might be a barrier for staff to repost content.
Diversified LinkedIn video content
Video has become more popular than ever—66% of consumers say short-form video is the most engaging content type, up from 50% in 2020, according to The 2022 Sprout Social Index™.
That’s why sharing video content seamlessly on LinkedIn was one of our top priorities. Previously the only video content you could share on LinkedIn was video content hosted elsewhere (think: YouTube videos).
We’ve updated Employee Advocacy to enable video uploads as content employees can share with their networks. This creates a more native LinkedIn experience for those posting, empowers you to share on-brand video and cuts out a step for you as the curator.
And more to come…
Like we mentioned, the tool you use to power your social strategy with employee advocacy should ease the posting process—not hinder it. From compliance-focused tools for highly regulated industries, to even more enhancements to scheduling posts, there are more features on the horizon.
As Rae says, “There’s a lot more in store for Employee Advocacy in the future, and I’m so excited to help our customers drive greater business results by empowering their employees to share their voices and experiences.”
It’s never been more important to increase your organic reach, without spending more to do so. A tool feeds two birds with one pellet: making your social media and employee advocacy strategy more efficient, while maximizing the free reach achieved by employee advocacy posts. The only thing left to do now, is to get started.
Grow brand awareness and supercharge your reach with Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy programs have hard-hitting benefits. Internally, employee advocacy programs make curating and sharing stories you want your employees to promote easier and more efficient. Externally, all that additional promotion and buzz helps cut ad costs by giving your organic reach a major boost.
This is your sign to kickstart your own employee advocacy program. You have the why. You have the how. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now, you’re ready to explore how employee advocacy can grow your strategy, reach and business results.
Use our ROI calculator to find out how employee advocacy and a platform like Sprout can amplify your company message and grow your business.