By Emma Fitzpatrick
Dream with me for a moment. Imagine a world where your followers liked, shared and created content for you? That’d be amazing, wouldn’t it?
Well, good news. You likely already have an enthusiastic group of people who love your bank and want to tell everyone they know—your employees!
Read on to learn why employee advocacy programs work and how to jumpstart one. Bonus: CarrieAnne Cormier and Kate Cwieka from Avidia Bank are sharing their inside tips after doing this first-hand.
What is an employee advocacy program?
Employee advocacy is exactly what it sounds like. You have your employees promote your bank and your bank’s values on social media.
Do employee advocacy programs work?
Yes. Creating an employee advocacy (or ambassador) program does take time, but if you do it right, you’ll reap a variety of benefits.
Employee advocacy programs can help you…
- Reach new audiences. The Pew Research Center found the average American has 338 Facebook friends. Even if your bank has only 50 employees, they could give you the potential to reach nearly 17,000 new people. Plus, when Dell implemented an employee advocacy program, it found only an eight percent overlap between its employees and the brand’s Twitter followers. So, you’re tapping into an extensive new network of connections at a relatively low cost.
- Produce trusted content. Eighty-three percent of people trust brand or product recommendations made by someone they know. On the flip side, the same survey found only 46 percent of people trust ads on social networks.
- Boost engagement. Employees’ social posts generate eight times more engagement than posts from their employer, found Cisco. Also, employee posts get two times more click-throughs, according to a 2016 LinkedIn study.
“Our metrics have reflected those found in research,” said Kate Cwieka, Avidia’s social media and brand communications manager.
She added, “If we put out a post that’s promoting a product and uses a stock photo, we don’t get very much for engagement (typically 1% engagement or less). If we publish a post of our employees, we see engagement rates of 7% or higher on average.”
- Higher conversions. IBM research shows that leads generated through employee social marketing initiatives convert seven times more frequently than other leads.
How to create an employee advocacy program.
- Start small. Rolling out an employee advocacy program company-wide is a daunting task.
Instead, CarrieAnne Cormier, Avida’s Vice President, Retail Operations and Strategy, recommends first looking at the talent on your team.
“Find a group of enthusiastic and passionate team members, empower them to create and share and then get out of their way,” CarrieAnne says.
At Avidia, they started with seven individuals. Some had volunteered, and others CarrieAnne encouraged to join.
- Make it easy. Try creating a specific hashtag for your employee ambassadors. That way, employees know exactly how to catch the attention of your social media team, and it’s easy for followers to find great content.
“Branches actively contribute to our #AvidiaLife feed by taking pictures and sharing a behind the scenes look at everyday branch life, special events and upcoming projects,” CarrieAnne noted.
- Set them up for success. A little training goes a long way!
“Provide training to help employees feel more comfortable with the social platforms,” Kate recommended. “This training helped employees better understand how we use social media for marketing and why it’s important to our business.”
- Lead by example. Once you’ve completed the training, inspire and guide your employees.
Kate and CarrieAnne began by being ambassadors themselves and sharing their content.
“For so long, it seemed like Kate and I were just tweeting back at each other or posting to our internal intranet site only talking to ourselves,” CarrieAnne recalled. “But just keep at it, and eventually people jump on board. It just becomes part of the culture.”
- Provide incentives. Your employees may love your brand, but their personal social profiles are inherently their space. Give employees the option to create a work-exclusive social profile. Then, get them excited about it.
“People like to see their name on things, like leaderboards,” CarrieAnne says. “In addition, we run some fun contests and promotions to encourage submissions. It’s amazing what people will do for some exclusive swag.”
Emma Fitzpatrick is a Philly-based freelance writer and marketer, whose specialties include content marketing, social media marketing and short, snappy writing. Pick her brain at email@example.com.