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Jun 24, 2021 Tribal Impact

How To Budget For A Business-Wide Employee Advocacy Program



Budgeting for an employee advocacy program and extending your social media program outside the usual confines of the marketing department can be a challenge. Even of those ranked as “socially mature” by HootSuite and Altimeter in The Social Transformation Report 2020only 46% had extended it into sales and customer services – and just 9% had extended it to stakeholder relations. (In less mature organisations, it was just 31% and 21% respectively.) 


In our experience, financing and budgeting for 
business-wide employee advocacy activation is one the biggest obstacles to social maturity success. So today I wanted to share:  

  • Why typical marketing quarterly campaign budgets don’t work long-term 
  • Where to source your budget  
  • All the resource costs (from the obvious to the less obvious) you’ll need to consider - along with top tips to stretch your budget further 

A Truly Social Business Wasn’t Built In A Day Quarter 

Social business transformation process takes time as it involves a deep cultural shift. Yet many organisations work with short-term budgets, which creates a campaign-focused approach rather than planning for the bigger picture. Meaning there will be no budget left for training and content creation just when you really need to optimise and scale your strategy.  

It’s always a good idea to use a short-term budget for running a pilot to provide a proof of concept. And you don’t need any more than around 10% of employees already championing your organisation on social media to do so (or 5% in larger enterprises). 

But after this, you really need to commit a budget to cover the longer-term if you want to develop a successful social business.  



Where To Source Your Budget For Business-Wide Employee Advocacy Activation 


Reallocate Budgets 

Most B2B marketers will have felt the increasing frustration of dwindling organic reach dwindling on social medial and having to increase their paid budgets to overcome this. So calculate the estimated earned media value of reaching 1,000 people per employee and then compare that with your last sponsored post. 

Then consider conversion rates. Employee advocacy acts in a similar way to customer word-of-mouth marketing and so conversions rates are often much higher than advertising or even website leads.  


Innovation Budget 

In larger organisations, many marketing departments will have an ‘experimental budget’ to test new concepts or strategies (usually to the tune of 10%).  

Just bear in mind that any initial pilot will often not “prove” ROI, as most B2B sales cycles are 6 to 9 months. However, you can report on metrics such as lead generation and the earned media value.  

Read how litigation law firm Stewarts Law drove the following results from their pilot employee advocacy case study: 

  • +89% Increase in Social Media Driven Web Traffic 
  • +60% Meaningful New LinkedIn Conversations 
  • +33% Offline Meetings with LinkedIn Connections 

Case Study: Stewarts Law Firm Generates +33% Meetings & More Via Employee  Advocacy 


Partner With Other Departments 

Social business transformation is about much more than marketing leads. It helps improve employee engagement, attract top talent, drive better quality leads for sales and stay in touch with existing customers.  

So make a case for why the budget shouldn’t fall solely within the marketing team! Here are a few resources to help: 


50 Employee Advocacy Statistics (That Aren’t Greater Than 2 Years Old) 


Social Revealing Selling Stats: Is The Trend Here to Stay? 


 How Employee Advocacy Can Help With Recruitment 


How Much Will Social Business Transformation Cost? 

The critical question that doesn’t have a definite answer!  

Here are some typical costs you will have to budget for (and some tips to help you reduce them!). 


Employee Advocacy Tool Licences 

Licences for advocacy tools typically range from $5 to $10 dollars per person (although at a company-wide Enterprise level it is usually a flat rate, which will be a much lower effective cost per person).To help you decide on the correct tool for you, why not look at our blog: Have You Got the Right Employee Advocacy Tool For You? 


Tip: We strongly recommend starting small with a pilot scheme of 10% of your employees (or in larger enterprise organisations, a minimum of 250). So don’t feel coerced into signing up for more licences than you need. It’s always easier and more cost-effective to scale up, not down.  



In our experience, the enablement budget is often overlooked until organisations run into problems. You should really budget 10-15% for training/enablement and onboarding. Once you begin to see the results, you should allocate 20% of your license costs because that’s how you begin to start building a community and tailored training to scale your efforts.   

It may seem a lot but too many businesses fall into the trap of believing that all their success will come from the tool alone, but it won’t. Remember the Pareto Principle: 80% of your results will come from 20% of your employees. So focus on delivering the right training to different user groups. 

Tip: At Tribal, we have a saying: which you can use to effectively scale your training to deliver the most impact as it’s needed: Train the Masses, Train the Many, Train the Few . (Find out more about The 9 stages of employee social media maturity here.) 


How To Budget For A Business-Wide Employee Advocacy Program


Engaging The C-Suite And Leadership 

It's crucial to get leadership buy-in for social business transformation and maintain it. You should therefore budget for creating persuasive presentations and providing regular updates to keep them engaged with the process, setting an example to others.  

Most importantly, you should budget for executive social media optimisation and coaching – or even social media kickstarttransitional help - so that they can experience the program first-hand a. Seeing is believing! And believing if critical to buy-in and creating leadership ambassadors.   

Expect to pay around £2000 per executive for profile optimisation and coaching or £2,000 per month for four-month kickstarts. (Many organisations choose to outsource this due to the short, resource-intensive and niche  nature of the support required.) .  

Tip: Find out more here: How To Get Leadership Buy-In For Social Business Transformation 


Content Curation And Creation  


How to budget for a business-wide employee advocacy program image 2


This part of your budget really depends on your resources. You should ideally have 4-5 topics and add content daily to every topic, but for smaller companies and budgets, it should be updated at least weekly.  

Without the right quantity - and quality - of third-party and internally-produced content your program isn’t going to work. It needs to have a mix of: 


  • Brand and employee generated content, created to build trust and credibility 
  • Curated content  
  • And shamelessly self-promotional- i.e it features a call-to-action of some sort!

A social media administrator will need to spend at least half a day a week doing so. 

Tip: Blogs are usually already produced as part of any content or inbound marketing strategy but the more that you can encourage employee-generated content and curated content suggestions, the more you may be able to tap into your marketing budget in future!   


Gamification And Incentives 

As your program expands, you’ll like want to include gamification features, such as leaderboards for those who receive the most clicks/shares. Many companies offer rewards or incentives. These don’t have to be particularly expensive and remember that experiential rewards are usually more motivating in practice. 

I’ve seen so many struggle to get the optimum budget to take activate their employee advocacy programs business-wide, but it can be done. And with many employees having had no choice but to turn to social media to connect with customers and prospects during the pandemic, your strategy should be met with a much more receptive welcome! 

Sometimes, it helps to hear from someone who has been there and done that – someone who has taken Ericsson to Hootsuite’s Social Maturity Leader status.  

Register for our webinar here, to hear from Ericsson's Global Head of Social Engagement & Advocacy Anita Veszeli on: 

  • Lessons learnt when piecing together the social jigsaw 
  • Achieving buy-in and engagement from Ericsson leaders 
  • How to build a social-first plan of action for 2021 - and measure the business-wide impact 


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About Tribal Impact

Tribal Impact is a B2B Social Selling and Employee Branding Agency.

We're a team of social media strategists, trainers, coaches, content creators and data analysts who are passionate about helping our B2B customers develop and scale their social selling and employee advocacy programs.

Learn more about us here.

Published by Tribal Impact June 24, 2021