More and more companies are starting brand and employee advocacy programs to improve their marketing and employer brands—as they drive amplified reach and greater engagement on social media.
But no matter the size of an advocacy program—whether 10 or 10,000 employees and brand champions) are participating—someone needs to manage and administrate it.
In this post, we’ll offer five things to know about administering an advocacy program. This information can help a company pick the right person(s) to administer its program, and help people tasked with the job achieve better results.
1. Some social media knowledge is important, but expertise is not necessary.
Good news: a person doesn’t have to be a social media expert to run an advocacy program. While the administrator should know some basics about how the different channels work (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), and what reasonable expectations for success might be, you don’t have to be a professional social media manager to run an advocacy program effectively.
2. It’s important to have software to make your job easier and to track results.
It’s possible to run an advocacy program without dedicated software, but we’d recommend strongly against it. The biggest drawback to relying on email is it’s basically impossible to measure results— whether people are even sharing the content, and the clicks and engagement shares are achieving—so you don’t know if your program is working or not.
3. Focus on advocate participation.
The success of an advocacy program is entirely dependent on people participating, so it’s vital to a) get advocates sharing from the start, and b) convince them to encourage sharing. Some components for achieving sustained participation include:
- Get executives to buy-in and participate. Senior leadership must champion an advocacy initiative to show that it is a priority for the company. But it’s also important that they participate, as it makes employees much more likely to participate on a regular basis.
- Communicate the purpose of the advocacy program to advocates. If people don’t see the point of the program, they’re unlikely to participate for long, if at all. This communication doesn’t necessarily have to come from the administrator, but it should state the purpose, objectives, and value to the individual and company to maximize participant buy-in. The purpose/value varies depending on program goals (e.g., the benefits of using advocacy for social selling are different than those for brand advocacy or employee advocacy).
- Hold a how-to meeting. The right software should be easy for advocates to use, but a webinar-style demonstration is a must for a great onboarding experience. This enables the administrator to walk everyone through the process from joining to sharing to measuring results.
- Use contests. Attractive rewards—a gift certificate, time off work, etc.—for sharing can be a great way to motivate people to participate. Group goals can also motivate people, especially those who are team-oriented.
- Contact people who aren’t participating. The right software should provide metrics on people’s participation rates. If a sizable percentage of people aren’t participating, the administrator should reach out to see why. It might simply be a lack of interest, or it could reveal improvements that can and should be made. When people continue to not participate, the administrator should remove them from your advocacy group and replace them with people who want to participate.
- Only post appropriate content. The administrator should avoid falling into the trap of posting content that advocates won’t want to share or is inconsistent with the stated mission of the program. Examples could include content that’s behind a registration form or asking people in an employee advocacy group to share content about your products.
- Post a steady stream of content, but don’t go overboard. It’s best for the administrator to post one to three items per week. If there are big time breaks, advocates can become disengaged because sharing ceases to be a habit. If new content is posted too frequently, advocates can become overwhelmed and frustrated, which also can lead to non-participation.
- Communicate monthly to advocates to showing them that the advocacy program is working and their efforts are paying off. The administrator can highlight group results, such as total shares and clicks, as well as highlight top advocates.
4. Provide instructions and suggestions.
A typical administrator’s primary activity is posting content for advocates to share, but it’s important to offer advocates some instructions and suggestions for what to do with it. Most of the time, the instruction will simply be to please share the content. But the administrator might also suggest hashtags (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook all now recognize hashtags) and people or brands to @mention on Twitter, or even offer a sample message.
This brings up a key point: it’s important that advocates not all tweet out the exact same message on their social media accounts. Identical messages can come across as spam, especially if many advocates are participating. So if the administrator offers a sample message, they should ask advocates to modify it.
5. Track participation metrics by social channel, and use contests to create desired changes.
Advocates often are more likely to share content on certain social networks than others. For example, people tend to be more eager to share content on Twitter than on LinkedIn and Facebook. So if it’s important to your organization to reach people on a variety of social channels, it’s a good idea for the administrator to look at metrics in the advocacy software to see if there’s a disparity on sharing by social channel.
If a disparity exists, contests are the best method for motivating advocates to change their sharing behaviors. Typically this is done by creating a contest with an attractive reward, and offering greater points for sharing on LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s important, of course, to provide communication about the contest to advocates, so they are aware of the increased value for those practices.