Quick thought experiment: when I say jobs, thought leadership and networking, what social platform comes to mind? I’m willing to bet it’s LinkedIn. As a hub for thought leaders and job seekers alike, LinkedIn is a goldmine for uncovering new leads and talent alike. And LinkedIn employee advocacy is how you reach them.
Employee advocacy—the promotion of a company that an individual works at—can supercharge brand awareness, sales leads and talent acquisition on any channel.
In this article, let’s dive into why it’s time to start your strategy, and 10 tips to help you get started.
Why is LinkedIn employee advocacy right for your social strategy?
There’s a reason 68% of marketers say their company has an advocacy strategy. It’s key to reaching untapped audiences, while getting your employees more engaged. And there’s plenty in it for your workforce, too.
With employees leaning on LinkedIn as their home to share content about their work and their own thought leadership, it’s the perfect place to kick off your program.
LinkedIn is easily the most important platform to prioritize your advocacy strategy. Here are a few ways advocacy on LinkedIn can lead to real business results.
Connect with decision makers
With over 65 million decision-makers on LinkedIn, it’s the place to connect with your next B2B buyers. And content is the key to reaching them.
From deep thought leadership to relevant memes commenting on industry insights, content is powerful. And considering most B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions, interesting, persuasive content can translate into dollars.
Employee content receives about eight times more engagement than brand channel content. Imagine the impact encouraging your workforce to post could have.
Build trust with prospective talent and buyers
People trust who they know—a friend’s recommendation is the top reason people buy on social media.
Employee posts are the digital equivalent to word-of-mouth marketing. Encouraging them to become thought leaders grows brand trust by amplifying trusted voices; voices that are three times more likely to be trusted than the voice of a CEO.
Trust matters, and translates to sales—72% of consumers say they feel connected to a brand when they trust it. And consumers who feel more connected to a brand are more likely to pick them over competitors. Similarly, most high-level professionals say thought leadership is a more trusted basis for assessing a vendor than marketing materials.
Brand trust also gives you the pick of top talent. After all, what would you believe first: a post saying “my company is the best place to work” written by a CEO, or an employee?
Engage your employees
Having engaged employees doesn’t necessarily mean going into the office every day, or attending every happy hour.
An advocacy strategy helps employees engage with their business in a way that also empowers them to grow their own influence and networks. And companies with engaged employees are 20% more likely to retain them, according to LinkedIn.
And if it’s buy-in you’re worried about, consider this: most employees would post about their company if the process was made easy, which an advocacy strategy takes care of.
10 tips to master employee advocacy on LinkedIn
Now that you know the “why,” let’s get into “how” to get your LinkedIn employee advocacy strategy off the ground.
As with any strategy, the hardest part is starting. So we’ve got 10 actionable tips to kick off your strategy and master brand amplification in the process.
1: Optimize your company’s LinkedIn page
If you’re encouraging employees to post more, your company page needs to be presentable. After all, every six pieces of content shared on LinkedIn influences 13 company page views, one new follower and six views on your careers.
Our LinkedIn audit article goes much deeper into this. For now, here are a few quick wins to score right now:
- Check your branding: Your profile picture and cover image should be high quality, eye-catching and up-to-date.
- Complete your profile: This is a no-brainer—an incomplete or barren profile doesn’t inspire trust.
- Add fresh job postings: Eight people are hired every minute on LinkedIn. Post your open roles and remove outdated ones.
- Recent post shares: Keep your posts up to date. Even better, engage with employee posts to show that you care.
2: Set goals for your strategy
A brand amplification strategy has cross-team benefits. Which means you’ll need cross-team goals.
To set goals for your strategy, consider what extending your LinkedIn reach can do for each of your teams.
For your marketing team, goals might center around brand awareness, building impressions and reach, increasing followers, etc.
For recruiting, decreasing time-to-hire, increasing applications and reducing turnover are huge.
And for sales, think about increasing leads and lead conversion.
Meet with other teams to show them how your program will benefit them, and to set relevant goals.
3: Sort your stakeholders
Advocacy is a team effort, through-and-through. Collaboration is the best ticket to success.
Identify who should be looped in at the least, and who can help out at most. Here are a few stakeholders to consider:
Even when it’s collaborative, an advocacy program will need someone to oversee it. The project owners can be responsible for overseeing or actively:
- Curating content for employees to share
- Creating copy for that content
- Sharing an internal newsletter with share-ready content
- Providing training and onboarding employees into the program
- Gathering and reporting on performance results
- And more
Identify a project owner. Then, identify go-to advocates on each team to send you data, help curate or to simply encourage their team to post ready-made content you provide.
Consistently providing post-ready content and copy for employees is a key part of advocacy. But it’s also time consuming. Tapping your creative teams to help can provide new leadership opportunities, while lightening the workload.
“Our three-person social team has limited time,” says Aubree Smith, Content Specialist and advocacy champion at Sprout Social. “To support advocacy, the Content Team curates our highest priority content and writes pre-approved social copy for employees to use on LinkedIn.”
This collaboration has made it possible to provide more post-ready content. The better the content variety for employees, the more empowered they are to share thought leadership.
When you think of “influencers,” you probably think of accounts with a million followers. But you have influencers under your roof—your social-savvy employees.
Identify employees who are already active on social media, and those with a large LinkedIn network. Then, pitch your program to them. This can be streamlined with a tool like Sprout’s advocacy platform, which identifies employees with large follower counts.
Piloting your program to a small, interested group first will help you determine your processes before you extend it to the entire organization. And after your program has started, you can identify more all-star content sharers by looking at who shares advocacy posts the most often.
4: Curate content and create copy
From simple reshares, to lengthy “broetry,” there are many ways to post on LinkedIn—and that can be overwhelming.
“I’ve always wanted to be active on LinkedIn, but I would often get stuck on questions like: what should I post? Who am I writing for? Am I adding any value?” Sprout Growth Account Executive Chris Long tells us. With nearly 10,000 LinkedIn followers, he’s a certified Sprout influencer.
Not knowing what to post and posting anxiety block employees from posting—even when they want to. Solve this by providing employee advocacy content and pre-written post copy to make posting easier, and to ensure messaging is on-brand.
Think about what your employees would be most likely to post. Celebratory employee spotlights and industry insights are a great place to start, as employees are most likely to share employee updates and educational content. Plus, they positively impact your brand image.
In addition to providing content, you need a go-to place for employees to find it, and an easy way to regularly share new content with employees.
This is one of the best reasons to use a tool. Sprout’s advocacy platform provides a one-stop hub for you to curate LinkedIn copy and content, and for employees to find it. We even have a built-in newsletter tool to help you share new content with your teams as it’s curated.
And all content shared from our advocacy platform looks native to LinkedIn, making your employees’ thought leadership look seamless.
As Chris puts it, “I love Employee Advocacy because it’s helped me answer those initial questions by giving me tracks to run on when I sit down to write. Big picture, it’s helped me gain confidence in my social presence.”
5: Show employees what’s in it for them
When it comes to employee benefits, monetary prizes are always enticing.
But our research shows that expanding networks and content pride are also major motivators.
Chris sums it best: “Through advocacy I’m easily building ‘muscle memory’ by posting with more consistency. And over time I’ve seen a tangible impact on lead generation, people reaching out about job openings and making genuine industry connections.”
When you introduce your program, consider what benefits you’ll offer—like swag, monetary incentives or recognition. And highlight skills employees gain through advocacy, like becoming thought leaders, expanding their networks and making a business impact.
6: Onboard and train your employees
It can’t be overstated: the key to employee participation is ease.
Whether you offer live trainings, recorded trainings, document guides or all of the above, here are some areas to provide training for:
- What not to post: This is especially important if you have a flexible advocacy program and encourage employees to source their own content. Provide guidelines for on-brand language, brand values and dos/don’ts.
- What to post: Provide guidance on the types of thought leadership, insights and resources that are appropriate to help shape employees’ own strategies.
- Social media copywriting: Provide training on using hashtags, how to write for LinkedIn, emoji best practices and best practices for writing on social.
- How to use your tools: If you’re using a robust solution like Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform, train admins who curate and approve content, and employees who will use the advocacy tool as a hub to search for and post content directly to their channels.
7: Set an internal promotion schedule
If you’re running a promotion on social media, you know you don’t just post once.
The same goes for advocacy.
When you launch your program, promote it via email, internal newsletters, team message systems, town halls and more.
Then, keep advocacy top-of-mind with a consistent internal promotion schedule. This can include:
- A regular newsletter of ready-to-post content and copy for employees to share
- Reminders in Slack or Teams when there’s a fresh batch of advocacy content
- Leaderboard updates that celebrate employees who post the most
- Updates on the impact their advocacy posts have had on the business
8: Secure executive buy-in
It’s always a bonus to have the boss on your side to boost your program resources.
But for an advocacy program, it can add a whole new level of executive-driven content. While employee voices are a powerful trust-builder, people also want to hear from your CEO—70% of consumers feel more connected to brands with CEOs active on social.
Ask your executives if they’d be willing to create posts or content employees can blast out to their own networks.
Not all content you provide to employees needs to be linked to a blog or video. You can also provide posts for them to reshare and add their own commentary to. When you use a platform like Employee Advocacy by Sprout, you can provide executive posts they can reshare, and their posts will look native to LinkedIn.
9: Measure, report and readjust
Once your program has started, revisit your goals. Look at how they’re tracking, and whether your strategy—or your goals—need a course correction.
And evaluate the advocacy program itself—with the knowledge that it won’t be perfect immediately. Evaluate your performance, survey employees and meet with your stakeholders to determine what’s working and what isn’t.
Pro tip: Share progress with your employees. They got you to this point. Celebrate how far their posts have pushed the strategy, your company’s LinkedIn presence and your business goals.
10: Practice what you preach
Share employee advocacy content yourself!
You don’t want to be a posting poser. Get your own thought leadership off the ground, as you encourage employees to share their own.
Beyond leading by example, this will also help you get a sense of how to use any employee advocacy tools you utilize, pain points in the process and will help you develop tips.
LinkedIn employee advocacy analytics: what to measure and why
We’ve talked about the importance of measuring and reporting on your progress. And there are some stand-out metrics you can use to measure employee advocacy efforts to prove ROI.
While LinkedIn’s analytics are a strong intro to measuring advocacy, they only go so deep. We’ll show you a few ways Sprout’s advocacy platform can help.
Let’s go through a few of them and why they matter.
Metrics that tell you, “how many people are using advocacy?”
Look at what percentage of your employees opt in to your advocacy program to see if you need another push. If your number is high, this is also a great metric to share with executives for more buy-in.
Find this by dividing the number of employees who showed interest in your advocacy plan, divided by the total number of employees you opted-in.
Not everyone will participate in your program—that’s ok. But you still need to assess whether you have healthy participation.
Looking at “Employees posting from recommendations” in LinkedIn’s baked-in advocacy analytics shows you how many posts have been shared by employees.
But using a platform like Employee Advocacy by Sprout gets more specific, providing a pre-calculated percentage of employees who actively post, average shares per employee and more.
Top contributors and posts
Knowing who participates the most and which posts perform the best helps you determine who to give incentives to.
And knowing which of your curated posts get the most employee shares helps you understand what employees like to share, and what kinds of stories to curate more often.
Shares provide another way to measure which posts employees are most interested in sharing.
This can also ladder up to your business goals and brand awareness.
Metrics that tell you, “how does advocacy support business goals?”
Advocacy post reach or impressions
Reach directly ladders up to brand awareness business goals.
In LinkedIn’s analytics, this metric tells you how many LinkedIn members interacted with advocacy posts shared by employees and their companies, location, job function, seniority and industry.
But Sprout’s advocacy platform measures potential reach by looking at the networks of each employee who shares your content, and how many new people that content may have reached.
Earned media value
Advocacy is essentially employee-driven advertising for your company. Earned media value allows you to directly compare the reach your employees’ reach to your paid efforts.
In other words, this metric can show your organization how many advertising dollars your advocacy program saved them. In Sprout’s advocacy platform, you can customize this to your needs.
Clicks and engagement
Looking at clicks and engagement is a great way to link social media advocacy efforts to driving traffic to your website, newsletter, blog and more.
And engagements can help you understand what content is successful beyond your employees, and entices new audiences to stop and interact with employee-shared content.
Social selling is one of the most powerful benefits LinkedIn can bring to your sales team. According to LinkedIn, salespeople who regularly share content are 45% more likely to exceed their quota.
As your sales team shares their own advocacy posts, their LinkedIn Social Selling Index will rise, laddering up to their personal lead goals and your business goals.
Strengthen your strategy with a LinkedIn employee advocacy tool
From content curation to measuring employee involvement, we’ve talked about a lot of moving parts in this article. The best way to make advocacy a cake walk for your employees, and to streamline your efforts, is with a LinkedIn employee advocacy tool.
Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform streamlines every step of your strategy—from content curation and sharing, to measuring your efforts. Advocacy makes it easy for employees to get involved, easy for you to start and saves you crucial advertising dollars.
A tool is your ticket to creating a powerful program that has real impact—for your social and your entire organization. Find out more about how our solution will empower long-term results.