Ever wondered what it really takes to get an employee advocacy program launched and keep employees engaged? Lisa Marcyes of Marketo joins us to discuss how companies can gain enrollment to get started with their employee advocacy programs and how to measure what’s working and what’s not. There’s more to a successful employee advocacy program than giving them content to share and hoping for the best.

Without further ado, here’s Lisa on employee advocacy.

 

Can you start by telling us a little bit about your professional background and what you do in your day job?

I’ve been managing communities for the last 7+ years. My niche has been in the B2B technology industry, which has been fun as it affords me the opportunity to craft messaging and engage on social media in a unique way!

 

How would you define employee advocacy? What is it for?

Employee advocacy is the education, promotion and engagement a company takes to initialize employees to create and generate positive exposure around the brand. By encouraging employees to share using their social channels, brands are able to increase social visibility, share of voice and exposure.

 

You are a key player in the employee advocacy program at Marketo. Tell us why you became interested in that project and how you got started.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to build a brand is to start from within. Employees are a vital component in helping brands expand their reputation. When I joined Marketo, we had the base for a great program, we just needed someone to take the reins and evangelize the benefits. I’ve had a lot of fun coming up with new ways to incentivize employees and make social sharing fun!

 

When you tried to gain enrollment for the employee advocacy program at Marketo, how did you go about pitching the idea to the leadership team?

I’m lucky because the executive leadership at Marketo sees the value of employee social advocacy and has supported my efforts to grow our program. Over the years I’ve employed several tactics, including giveaways, lunch-and-learns and gamification. I’ve found what works best is a mix of the following:

  • Fun, shareable content
  • Industry trend content
  • Point system rewards

 

What’s the toughest part about launching an employee advocacy program? Tell us how you set up the program to be successful.

I’d say the biggest pain point has been keeping employees engaged once they’ve signed into our program. Some people just aren’t as open to sharing brand messaging as others, so they sign up to get the free t-shirt and then never log in again. In trying to keep them involved, I’ve found the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I regularly send out announcements asking employees to join and/or engage. When we have launches, I’ll include click-to-tweets to encourage social sharing, I post new challenges several times a week that employees can redeem for swag. In addition, to my great benefit, the CEO will send out reminders to employees every once in a while asking employees to engage, engage, engage on social. Can’t ask for any better cheerleader than him!

 

How do you measure the effects an employee advocacy program has on marketing and sales efforts? Are there certain KPIs that matter most to you?

We use a tool that measures not only total employee engagement, i.e. (shares, likes, retweets, reach), but also clicks. Having KPI’s is an important part of launching any advocacy program, so you can determine what’s working and what isn’t. Analyzing the results helps me determine a few things: whether the messaging we’re using resonates, if we’re posting to the correct channels and if we’re reaching new and potential customers.

 

Once you get an employee advocacy program rolling, it’s tough to keep up the momentum. How do you keep employee advocacy top-of-mind at the company?

I’d say the most important thing is to consistently post fresh, new content. The more employees engage, the more it becomes a habit to go in and share. Another thing I’ve found works wonders is to provide giveaways that are desirable. Here at Marketo, we order everything from branded sweatshirts and t-shirts, to mugs, umbrellas and beanies. For me, that’s a win/win. Our employees are sharing branded content to win branded swag they’ll wear out and about. Score!

 

If you had to list three key best practices for employee advocacy, what would they be?

  • New hire training: Explain the program and benefits to encourage new hires to join and participate!
  • Continuity: Be consistent in posting new content for employees to share. If you start a program and update randomly, you’ll get a similar response. Random engagement.
  • Swag: It’s important to give back. Your employees’ word goes a long way, why not give them a little something for it.

 

Is a company ever too big or too small to have an employee advocacy? How does company size impact an employee advocacy program?

Never! In fact, I’d say for smaller companies it can be even more impactful as you’re building your reputation and expanding your brand. Who better to represent you and your messaging, than your employees? They really are the most credible voices within your business.

As for larger companies, let’s be honest, most employees are already posting messages on social media, so why not develop a way to make that message consistent?

 

Which social channels do you focus on with Marketo’s employee advocacy program? How can a company determine which channels matter most?

I focus mainly on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We have high conversion rates on Facebook and LinkedIn, and we utilize Twitter to keep a pulse on brand awareness and industry conversations.

For other companies, it really depends on where their target audience resides. You always want to go where your audience is. So I’d encourage researching where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Then begin asking your employees to share there.

 

If a company is hoping to start an employee advocacy in the future, where should they start? Are there any resources available or must-have tools they could use?

First, I’d say you need to get buy-in from your stakeholders. In order for any advocacy program to succeed, you’ll need support from your executive team. They’ll be your best evangelists, and adoption will hinge on their support.

Second, determine the tools you’ll need in order to be successful. There are several great tools out there to encourage employee social advocacy. I’d recommend researching which best fits the needs of your company. Costs can range, so it’s important to have a clear strategy with defined goals, so you can find the best fit.

Once you’ve got buy-in and your tool online, be loud and boisterous about what’s in it for employees. Social sharing takes effort. Explain to them why it’s worth it!

Take time to train everyone on how to use the tool and make it a big splash. Host a few lunch and learns, send out emails, post recorded webinars online so they are easily accessible to employees. I’ve found condensed tips and tricks works really well.

Last, ensure you have a dedicated resource to keep the program running smoothly! There’s nothing worse than spending valuable resources on something you’re just going to ignore. Having a dedicated resource can mean the difference between success and failure.

 

Where can we go to learn more about employee advocacy and social media best practices?

If you’re interested in learning more about social media best practices, I’d highly recommend reading Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.

I’d also recommend checking out the Marketo Blog, which features thought leadership pieces for B2B and consumer marketers that highlight tips, tricks, best practices and emerging trends.