How to Recruit Your First Group of Employee Advocates

Social media is a critical channel for your marketing and sales efforts. It builds awareness, credibility, and trust with buyers. It fosters authentic engagement. And it drives sales.

Unfortunately, branded social media accounts are struggling to reach their audiences. They currently reach only 6% of their followers, and the majority of people do not trust their ads.

But you know who buyers do trust? The people they know. That’s why companies are turning to employee advocacy. Your passionate and dedicated employees can represent your company on social media, share your marketing and sales messages, and reach more buyers.

But how do you go about finding employee advocates in your company? Here are five steps that you can take to recruit your first group of employees for your pilot program.

Step 1: Pick a department (or two) for your pilot program

Each department in your company has different needs. What your IT department cares about may not be the same as what your marketing department cares about.

To ensure the success of your program, limit your pilot to a department or two. That way, your content and messaging will be extremely targeted to the needs of a specific group.

Typically, it is best to start with the departments that are accustomed to sharing your company’s messages. These might include:

  • Marketing
  • Public relations
  • Sales
  • Business development

Step 2: Identify the employees who are active on social media

Once you have honed in on a department, it is time to find a group of employees who already understand social media. Your social media superstars will be the ones who are eager to adopt the program and stick with it.

74% of all internet users have a social media account. So, it should not be difficult to find employees who understand social media. The trick is to find employees who understand how to use social media for professional purposes. Here are a few strategies that you can use.

Speak to the department heads – Typically, your department heads will know which team members are power users of social media.

These employees are the ones who talk about how many followers they have. They always bring up Twitter and LinkedIn in meetings. They want the company to be more active on social media. You know the type.

Search for employees on Twitter – Chances are that many of your employees are already using social media for work purposes. After all, 50% of employees post messages about their employers on social media.

So, conduct a search on Twitter by typing your company’s name into the search bar, and see who is already advocating for your company.

Step 3: Keep the pilot program small

It’s tempting to launch a large-scale advocacy program. The more people who amplify your messages, the more people you reach.

But your program will suffer if you try to roll out a new program to a large group of employees. Your enormous program will be hard to manage, and adoption will be slow.

So, start small. Create your best practices. Show some early results. Then, expand.

Granted, the term “small” will depend on your company size. Generally speaking, you will want to start with 15-50 employees. This is a reasonable number of people for you to manage.

Step 4: Determine your incentives

How will you reward your employees for participating? Sure, many of your rising social media rock stars will be eager to participate, but it is also nice to reward their efforts. Here are a few ideas that you can use:

An ongoing rewards program – For every quarter a person participates, she receives a reward. It could be a t-shirt, a gift card, the latest headphones, etc.

A monetary incentive – For some employees, money talks.

Make sure that you set up clear expectations. From the start, indicate what will be required to receive that monetary bonus.

It can be a team goal. “If 90% of the pilot team posts 3 times per week over the course of 10 weeks, each pilot participant will receive $100.” Or it can be individual. “If you post 4 times per week during a financial quarter, you will receive $100.”

Company-wide recognition – Sometimes, acknowledging excellent service is enough for your employees. You can give your advocates a special thanks in a company-wide meeting. If you want to throw in a twist, you can award them small trophies or plaques.

Step 5: Personally invite employees to participate

Your participants should have to opt into your advocacy program. It should be something they want to do.

The easiest way to invite advocates to your pilot is by sending them a personalized invitation. Here’s a sample template that you can use:

It’s tempting to write an extremely long e-mail that explains every detail of your program. But your employees are busy. They will not read your e-mail if it gets too long. Keep it short, and focus on what’s in it for your employees.

Go out and Recruit!

Now that you have a better idea of how to recruit advocates, it’s time to go out and do it! Remember that many of your employees are already advocating for your company. You simply have to find them.

Good luck!


Looking for more great tips?

Download Employee Advocacy 101: The Rise of the Employee Advocate.

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