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Employee advocacy #2: Who do you need on your team?

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In the first part of this series on employee advocacy Andrew Seel, CEO, Qubist, looked at ‘Why employees are the new Influencers’ and the key benefits for brands in creating an employee advocacy programme. In this second post, he looks at the strategies you can employ to set up your own employee advocacy team, what they will need to do practically and how to recruit and motivate your first advocates.
employee advocacy

During a time of rising consumer scepticism around paid-for influencer marketing, organisations will be wise to make the most of those who can provide a more authentic message.

As mentioned in part 1 of our employee advocacy series, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

Your employees all have their own social circles online. The question is: do they believe in what you do? And if so, who are your best advocates?

Your new employee advocacy team

One of the most common questions we get asked at Qubist is ‘Who do you need on your employee advocacy team?’. The set-up process is more straightforward when you adopt a tech platform that can help you manage your new advocates, scale up the programme, and measure and report on activity easily and accurately.

In practical terms, three key roles are involved:

1.1 Senior stakeholder

A senior stakeholder supports the team in getting buy-in from the wider business and ensures that the programme is aligned with key business goals and objectives. This role is important in making sure the vision and values of the company are reflected in the programme and that everyone in the company feels they are empowered to take part.

1.2 Advocate manager

An advocate manager can be viewed like a social media community manager. This role is about managing the new advocacy programme and will need a few hours per week once the programme is set up. This role includes: weekly and monthly reporting (a quick task with a tech platform that breaks down the data); managing advocates; manual surprise and delight rewards and badges (in addition to the automated ones awarded); community management and some internal comms.

1.3 Content creator

Lastly, a content creator is responsible for social content on the new platform. Much of this content can be based on existing content from the wider business (such as the social media plan or influencer campaigns). The advocate manager will be able to feedback to the content creator on what types of content are performing well, so new content can be optimised. Content creation may be able to be outsourced to your advocacy provider, or social agency.

How do you get your first recruits?

Your ‘early adopters’ will often be part of your pilot programme. In this initial period,you will be able to learn more about your advocates’ behaviour and align your new activity to your business goals, before the programme is rolled out across the business.

Onboarding your first recruits will go smoothly if you identify certain types of employees within your business who will be passionate about taking part. These are often people who already use social media regularly and are great supporters of your brand online. First advocates have a key role in helping shape the programme.

To identify early adopters consider:

  • Interviewing managers about who would be a good fit
  • Consulting your HR and Marketing teams for potential recruits
  • Running a survey to gauge interest and top recruits
  • Exploring a variety of recruits from different departments and locations
  • Making contact with colleagues already sharing brand news on social media
  • Raising awareness at team and departmental meetings

When you have identified a group of early adopters invite them to an introductory huddle with senior stakeholders or to view an introductory video.

Motivating recruits

An employee advocacy programme that utilises a tech-enabled platform supports both rapid advocate adoption and the creation of a sustainable programme.

A tech platform helps brands motivate employees by empowering them and giving them a sense of progress.

Senior management recognition to individual employees involved in the programme will, of course, be vital, but automated gamification on an employee advocacy mobile app is an instant and excellent way to show employees how they are progressing.

Employees can earn points, receive badges and climb leaderboards – all part of a feedback loop that keeps employees engaged, motivated and empowered to use their role personally to impact on the whole business.

Keeping it human

An employee advocacy app can enable your new team to execute a brilliant – authentic – social media marketing or recruitment strategy through your employees.

However, a tech platform should not be adopted in isolation, so look for providers with social media and agency expertise to offer strategic support, especially at the start of the programme.

This will help create a sustainable employee advocacy programme by making the marketing more human; understanding advocates needs and motivations in order to empower them.

A positive business impact can be achieved quickly. For example, in the first 3 months alone, the Qubist Iceland Insider app generated over 37 million impressions through employees’ own social channels.

The best influencers are right in front of you

Brands are now needing to spend significantly more on advertising to appear in newsfeeds due to platform algorithm changes and people are increasingly switching on ad blockers. Influencer advertising has also received negative press for cases of non-disclosure. Conversely, employee advocacy offers authentic reach and trust and can be scaled, which is why it is appearing higher in the marketing stack.

Brands are now realising their best influencers are right in front of them with highly engaged audiences. Just consider that employee shared content is twice as likely to be clicked on than a brand, according to LinkedIn. Time to get your team together.

Check out the 3rd article in this series: ‘The 7 benefits of employee advocacy’

For more, see ‘Employee Advocacy: Getting Started


Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.


Author: Andrew Seel
CEO at Qubist |

Andrew is CEO of Qubist, the UK's leading employee communications and advocacy marketing platform. He has been at the forefront of the digital industry since the early days of the web and has worked with numerous brands globally including: John Lewis, Haagen Dazs, Air Mauritius China, Saatchi & Saatchi, Suzuki, ICAEW, Virgin Atlantic and Iceland Foods.

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