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Employee Advocacy

Introduction to Employee Advocacy: Guide on Program Definition, Benefits and the Tools



What is Employee Advocacy? It’s often defined as ‘the promotion of an organisation by its staff members.’ But it goes a lot further than this and offers many tangible benefits for an organisation that embeds advocacy into its culture.

At Tribal Impact, we believe that Employee Advocacy is about transforming your engaged workforce and creating a credible narrative that’s about so much more than just promotion and sales. It elevates your internal Subject Matter Experts’ social reputations into a position of thought leadership and influence.

What is employee advocacy

Adopting a culture of Employee Advocacy can speed up the growth of businesses. Why? Because employees have an average of ten times as many social media connections as a standard brand account. Which means ten times the sales opportunities. Companies with more engaged employees are also 23% more profitable. But only 23% of employees feel engaged at work. (Source: Gallup)

Employee advocacy also creates a more credible brand: 88% of people trust recommendations from people they know. (Source: Neilson)

The fact that social media is part of everyone’s life nowadays means you can harness employee voices in a more effective way. 81% of millennials share information about their job (Source: Marketing Advisory Network). This has the potential to be a powerful resource, especially if those employees become brand advocates and regularly share that goodwill with their audience.





Why Invest In Employee Advocacy?

When you consider the statistics related to Employee Advocacy, the question of investment changes from ‘why’ to ‘why not’.

Employees who practice advocacy are better engaged, more productive and more likely to recommend their business for products and employment. In addition, a good advocacy culture will impact sales, customer retention and brand exposure.

Employee Advocacy is a low-cost marketing resource with8x more social media reach than sharing to only company branded channels.

There are three strands to it. Each creates a positive return on investment, elevating content and digital marketing outcomes beyond those which can be achieved by a traditional paid marketing strategy. 

benefits of employee advocacy

1) Reach

Traditionally, brands sell, people build relationships. But today’s consumers don’t want to feel sold to. Which means content posted by a brand will get shared less than content posted by an individual.

User-generated content receives 50% more engagement. Part of the reason why is because employees’ social media networks are usually at least 10x larger than those of corporate brands (Source: LinkedIn). Leads generated by these networks also convert 7x more frequently (Source: IBM).

Nowadays, 56% of business professionals say a business executive's presence on social media positively influences their purchase decision (Source: LinkedIn).

Meaning the more employees a brand can convert into engaged advocates, the more success they'll have.

2) Authenticity

Authentic Marketing is about putting your employees in front of your logo and enabling them to become the authentic voice of your brand.

In addition to doing their own research before engaging with a vendor,  74% of buyers admit to choosing the company that first added value to their buying decision (Source: Sprout Social). This makes activating the collective voice of your employees an essential element of marketing today. No one brand can keep up with the level of social interaction needed to capture these opportunities.

The voice of the employee is powerful and credible. Employee-shared content is viewed as three times more authentic and typically sees a click-through rate that is twice as high as when the corporate mouthpiece shares the same information. (Source: LinkedIn).

But it’s important for brands to recognise that employees aren’t there simply to broadcast their content. Advocacy isn’t about volume of content or interactions; it’s about quality. It’s a case of connecting the dots across your business and putting people online in the context of their roles – and in a way that suits them personally. The consumer is too savvy for any other approach and sycophantic posting and sharing of the ‘corporate line’ will soon be called out.


3) Employee Engagement

Showing your people that you value their opinions and will support their right to comment shows trust and transparency. The benefits are many and varied:

Benefits for the brand:

  • Builds trust and credibility through people
  • Showcases expert talent within the business
  • Extends content reach
  • Humanises the brand
  • Creates authentic content

Benefits for the employee:

  • Strengthens employee credibility in market
  • Deepens customer relationships
  • Attracts opportunities
  • Increases knowledge and value
  • Builds network beyond fellow peers

The most common reason employees are reluctant to become employee advocates is a lack of confidence. With a small amount of guidance, brands can educate their people and guide them in what to post. Let champions lead the way – these are people who naturally take to sharing and creating content. In doing so, they’ll inspire others to follow.

One of the most valuable benefits to employees is the opportunity for them to build their own professional brand while they support the corporate brand. Being considered an expert is a sought-after status in the age of social media and online networking. But it comes with big results – B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with industry thought leaders.

When companies are socially engaged, they’re 58% more likely to attract top talent. They’re also 57% more likely to increase their leads (Source: LinkedIn).

benefits of employee advocacy (1)

[Source: LinkedIn and Altimeter


Selling to Leadership

So, how do you convince your leadership team that it’s the right thing to put their employees in front of their logo?

Given the continual evolution of social media, it’s no surprise that you might need to do some work to explain to C-Suite why Employee Advocacy is important.

To convince them, the key message should be that the benefits of implementing an Employee Advocacy program are felt across the whole organisation. Here are four important points that need to feature in your social business case:

1. Communications & Employee Engagement:

According to Gallup, 74% of employees feel that they’re missing out on company information and news. Further research suggests that only 4 in 10 employees can confidently describe to others what their employer does. This scenario can quickly create disengaged employees and a lack of team spirit.

Employee Advocacy naturally positively impacts employee engagement and improves your ability to communicate internally in the following ways:

Reach the disconnected workforce:

Often, one of the biggest issues when it comes to employee engagement scores is around manual or remote workers feeling isolated, or identifying more with their local team than with the overall brand of the business. Advocacy gives these employees the opportunity to get involved. After all, who doesn’t have a smartphone or access to social media these days?

Opportunity to measure interaction:

Cascading messages have always been a challenge for internal communications teams. Does the message reach people in an undiluted form? Do people understand? According to Google, this issue is huge, with a massive 80% of the global workforce (estimated to be over 3bn people) performing work that doesn’t require a desk every day. With an Employee Advocacy app, you can find out what people read and share your news on an easy-to-reach platform.

Identify your social champions:

By discovering those who will be early-adopters to the idea of brand advocacy, you can kick-start your employee advocacy program and understand where the gaps are between those who are social hero and those who are social zero. Identify where your employees are in their Social Media Maturity journey with our Social Media Impact Quiz.

Digital Internal Communications

Internal communication needs to move with the times. We live in an age where everyone is used to instant access to news and information. If we don’t understand something, we Google it. If we want to know more about something, we use review sites and comparison models to do our research.

Our employee communication model needs to echo this cultural shift. To keep your workforce interested and engaged, your internal communications need to be:

  • Clear –  high-level announcements or confusing financial forecasts need to be tailored to their intended audience.

  • Inclusive – social media is highly interactive with gamification, discussions, shares and likes being the norm. Internal communication now needs to be smarter than posters and desk-drops to capture the enthusiasm of the audience.

  • Varied – by providing different ways to join the discussion, internal communications teams can create the choice and flexibility of external social media usage. This is about producing and sharing content that people feel will contribute to their own online brand.

  • Empowering – internal communication is no longer an area of business where people uninformed about company news. By contributing to the advocacy role of employees, this becomes an integral part of business development and growth. By spreading the word, you empower your employees to increase their knowledge and reach their goal of being industry experts.

2. Sales & Revenue Generation:

Social selling is fast replacing more traditional methods of engaging a customer. Good content powers social selling and creates expert influence across your audience network.

Leads developed via an employee’s social activity are 7x more likely to convert and customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate (Sources: IBM and Deloitte).

And companies who experience a 12% increase in brand advocacy typically generate twice the increase in revenue growth (Source: National Business Research Institute).

Employee Advocacy Digital Word of Mouth Benefits

3. HR & Talent Acquisition:

We’ve reached the age of the digitally native millennial. This changes how up-and-coming talent view an organisation.

88% of major employers say that employee referrals are their number one source of top candidates (Source: Macleod/Clark). And socially engaged companies are 20% more likely to retain top employees.

4. Marketing & Increased Web Conversion:

Inbound businesses drive better conversions on their website, attract higher quality traffic, and reduce their paid media spend.

A social advocacy program provides real value for money. Despite the fact that only 2-8% of employee social networks currently overlap with brand networks, content shared by employees receives an incredible 8 times more engagement and is shared 24 times more frequently than that which originates with the brand network (Sources: Social Media Today and MSL Group).

Earned media marketing is increasingly seen as a reliable source of growth. Still largely described as 'free publicity largely from promotional efforts', earned media will also be attributable to Employee Advocacy.

The presence of the internet and our social media culture is a double-edged sword: it’s easier to get your message out, but the resulting noise is deafening. Brands and businesses compete on a 24-hour stage across multiple channels, using a range of different media.

The only thing that has a chance of standing out is something refreshingly different. An average B2B buyer consumes 13 pieces of content before they purchase, from both the brand and third parties (Source: FocusVision). But it's important to make sure the content you publish is credible and high quality.

Getting the right amount of quality, authentic, and relevant content out there ensures an earned media approach cuts through the noise of the old-fashioned ways of direct selling. 


Benefits to Employees

Employee advocacy on social media provides lots of benefits for employees when it comes to building their personal and professional brands.

Here’s a high-level view of what’s in it for them:

Higher social visibility:

Developing their online professional brand helps employees understand who they are. It also means opportunities can come knocking. And when their network – customers, vendors, press, and partners – respond positively, they build their confidence and credibility.

Relationships with people in the industry:

By establishing themselves as a go-to person in their industry, they can capitalise on the ability to share knowledge. They get to showcase and share what they know, and they get increased opportunities to learn and experience other viewpoints on their specialist topics.

Make an Impact:

Whether it’s generating or attracting new inbound leads, creating the best first impression through their rich and varied digital footprint, or becoming a stand-out connection within their organisation, by meeting people and learning more, they’ll create a greater impact in all areas of their lives.


Employee Advocacy Tools

Scaling Employee Advocacy programs can be difficult if you don’t use a tool. Employee Advocacy tools are there to structure branded, and non-branded, content into a centralised platform where employees can share content from.

An employee Advocacy platform is a great way to tailor and streamline the content available to employees for social sharing. Pre-approving the content provides peace of mind to both the employee and company.  It also provides the company with performance data that can be linked to CRM platforms to track conversion quality.

So what's available?  Here’s a list of Employee Advocacy tools we've collated in alphabetical order:


  1. Brandwatch

  2. DSMN8

  3. Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social
  4. Everyone Social

  5. Firstup

  6. GaggleAmp

  7. Haiilo

  8. Hootsuite Amplify

  9. Impartner

  10. Influitive

  11. LinkedIn My Company
  12. PostBeyond

  13. Seismic

  14. SoAmpli

  15. Sociabble

  16. Sprinklr

  17. Togethr

    Go check them out.  Most tools will offer a demo.


Selecting The Right Tool

There are seven areas where you need to ensure the Employee Advocacy tool you choose is fit for purpose. Below is a high-level checklist:

1. The user interface

Questions on interface should reflect: flexibility, accessibility and the overall user experience.

Consider whether the product is mobile-friendly, available in different languages, has auto-scheduler options and whether it includes any gamification or incentives to promote user engagement.

2. Licensing

You need to get a full understanding of how charges work: pay per engagement, license-based or flat rate. You should also consider how scaling up works, either for additional employees in the future or even to add partners or customers. In addition, check contract conditions (like sign up period, notice period) and, importantly in the face of GDPR, what happens to your data.

3. Launching

  • Is there scope for a pilot?
  • Does the tool provider offer any support with a communications plan for launch?
  • Does the product include time-saving features such as automated alerts for users, or triggers and reminders for registration or re-engagement?
  • How does the administration and permissions process work?

4. Analytics

  • What reporting capabilities (including the ability to customize reports) does the product have?
  • What are report frequencies, exporting options and tracking mechanisms?

5. Content

  • Can you link RSS feeds?
  • Is there AI learning capability (I.e will the product improve with use)?
  • How is content categorised or prioritised?

You may need sight of workflows for content approval (especially if you work in a highly regulated industry). You should also understand the processes for archiving and language filtering.

6. Compliance

  • Is there a way to flag defined keywords if that content is posted against policy?
  • What’s the data protection policy of the seller?
  • Are there country-specific user agreements?

7. Integration and Support

  • Does the product support integration with other programs such as SSO, CRM and marketing automation?
  • Is tool training on offer as part of the package?
  • Is there a support SLA and do help desk services exist?
  • Is there centralised or local (in-country) support?

Finally, don't forget to ask for a reference customer who you can discuss the product with.


Launching Your Employee Advocacy Program

So, it’s all signed off. What next? Follow these steps to ensure your Employee Advocacy program is implemented effectively and fit for purpose from the start.

Launching an employee Advocacy program (1)

1.  Establish your program objectives

Who do you want to reach?

  • Are you doing this to increase brand awareness?
  • Do you aim to increase the positive perception towards your brand?
  • Do you want to improve recruitment and candidate talent?
  • Do you want to focus on customers (including potential customers)?
  • Do you want to drive more traffic and leads?
  • Do you want to drive higher conversions on your website?

Don’t forget the knowledge-sharing element of social advocacy: 62% of LinkedIn members engage with content on the platform because it’s educational or informative and 50% of them say they are more likely to buy from a company they engage with on LinkedIn. [Source: LinkedIn]

2.  Content Strategy

Start by developing your content strategy. Ideally you should have a split of content between third party/industry related content (4 pieces), branded thought leadership such as blogs (1 piece) and branded promotion (1 piece). This, unsurprisingly, is called the 4-1-1 rule.

Next, finalise the sources of your content:

  • How will the content be categorised?
  • Who will curate and review the content?

Content is king. If you get content wrong, employees won’t share anything. You may also struggle to get them to keep coming back to your advocacy tool. Content should be easy for employees to share, ideally with a good point or soundbite. It should be relevant and not too technical or generic. Too much product-focused or brand content will make them feel like a broadcast channel. Instead, you want a supply of fresh content that encourages employees to login to your advocacy tool regularly.

Before you launch your advocacy program, it’s well worth taking the time to understand who your audiences are and the content they might want to consume.

Start by developing your content strategy. This may include:

  1. Industry news
  2. Company news
  3. Product innovation
  4. Coffee corner
  5. Thought leadership blogs
  6. Job postings
  7. #LifeAtYourCompany
  8. Leadership & Lifestyle
  9. Fun stuff
  10. Partner content

Next, finalise the sources of your content. Will you invest in a bespoke Employee Advocacy tool, or will you use an external platform?

Having a tool makes it easier for employees to find and share pre-approved content. And, as an employer, you get to maintain control over the content and see the results.

3.  Train employees

To kick-start enthusiasm for your Employee Advocacy program, identify employees who can help you achieve your goals. Target those already active on social media, or who you know will be early adopters of the new culture.

Take the time to ensure your people are aware of social media basics, how to use the tool, and the sharing etiquette you wish to create (e.g. customising posts, sending the right quantity of posts based on the network being used, understanding the right type of content for each channel, etc).

Next, create a training framework that best matches the employeessocial media maturity level.  Target their training to the right level of understanding and use a format most suitable for them, be that workshops, webinars, or eLearning modules. Include training as part of your new starter on-boarding process.

4.  Launch your Employee Advocacy program

Use your existing channels of communication to get things off the ground. Communicate the value you expect to see from the program, for both the company and the employee. Identify a team member to manage your Employee Advocacy admin. Perhaps create a collaborative group on your Enterprise Social Network (ESN). Get your leadership involved in the launch, too.

5.  Keep employees engaged

You need to maintain engagement levels past the initial novelty period. Make sure you reinforce the impact that employees make, showcase best practices, encourage mobile use, and refine your content strategy. Provide continued training for employees ready to move to the next step.

6.  Measure your results

So, you’ve identified your objectives, your launch is complete and your program is finally underway. How’s it going?

It’s important to take note of the measurements of success at an early stage. Being agile during the launch phase will enable you to increase your chances of success.

You should look at the following areas:

Adoption Metrics:

  • % adoption across the organisation
  • % invited employees that have registered
  • % active users (logged in or shared at least once per month)
  • % mobile users vs desktop users

User Metrics:

  • Identify early adopters and highlight them
  • Identify social spammers and educate them
  • Identify least active sharers and encourage them
  • Average number of articles shared per week per employee

Marketing Metrics:
Cost per click – check this out for paid social campaigns. Multiply the number of clicks by average cost and you'll get a quick hack for cost saved/value driven via advocacy.

Later in the program, perhaps after it’s been running for around six months, you should look at optimising your content and revisit user training requirements to hone your model and maximise success.


  • % volume traffic referred via social advocacy (use UTM tracking)
  • % job posting views as a result of employee driven traffic
  • % bounce rate of advocacy driven traffic vs other sources
  • % conversion of advocacy driven traffic vs other sources


  • Most shared content by category (what do your employees prefer sharing?)
  • Content driving most clicks (what are your employee networks interested in reading?)
  • Content driving most engagements (what type of content is engaging employee networks the most?)
  • Your most popular categories (is there a correlation between volume of content submitted to those categories and volume of content shared?)
  • What patterns are emerging with high-performance content?
  • Do they use hashtags?
  • Are employees mentioning influencers?
  • What post types work well: How-to posts? List posts? Something else?
  • Is your ratio of brand/non-brand content working?

Curator Performance:

  • Who submits the most content to the platform?
  • Who submits the most-engaged-with content?
  • Who submits the most-clicked content?
  • Which categories need more volume?
  • Do you need more thought leadership?

Finally, you get to connect Employee Advocacy to revenue, when Google Analytics talks to your marketing automation system and your automation platform connects to your Sales CRM platform.

Identify patterns and look for correlations across the data. Providing you have the tool stack connected and UTM tracking switched on, you can weave advocacy touched/influenced/generated attribution into your model. In effect, you turn your workforce into a sales force, where potentially everyone can influence the buyer journey.

Overall, it’s important to measure the performance of the tool but also to think more widely about how advocacy impacts the business metrics that already exist.  For example, consider how Employee Advocacy impacts conversion on your website. Is the talent you attract through your employer network saving on hiring costs? What’s the impact on deepening customer relationships caused by sales keeping their networks informed about the latest innovations? Look beyond the obvious outcomes.

Employee Advocacy Mistakes

Not every business is the same, so it's important to learn how Employee Advocacy works for your business.

However, you can learn a lot from those who’ve launched programs before you by avoiding these Employee Advocacy mistakes:

1. Launching a Program when the Workforce is Disengaged:

Jay Baer, of convinceandconvert.com, sums it up brilliantly.  "If your employees aren't your biggest fans, you've got problems WAY bigger than social media".  

Employee advocacy cannot be forced. If you have unhappy workers the chances are that they're not likely to advocate your brand so you need to work with HR to set the scene initially.  

2. Viewing Employees As Another Marketing Channel:

Your workforce is not another marketing channel. They are individuals who should be taught how to build their personal brand online by creating best-in-class profiles, sharing content around topics they are passionate about and even creating content such as blog posts.  You want employees with social competency not robotic amplifiers for marketing.  

Employees who advocate the brand can and will support your marketing effort but that should not be the driving force behind the program.

3. Forgetting to Structure Your Content:

There are a number of reasons why your Employee Advocacy program may not reach the giddy heights you were expecting when you initially launched it, but the most common reason of all is content.

Before launching your Employee Advocacy software tool, take time think about the structure of your content. Divide it up into logical sections most relevant to your internal target audience e.g. make sure the HR folks only see content relevant to them and their networks.  If you don't do this, you'll find adoption of the tool will decline over time as the content becomes irrelevant for users. 

However, there’s a balance to be struck. Be careful not to put people in boxes based on their function. You also need to consider their motivation: are they looking to become a thought leader or are they focused on their sales performance? Content categories can be set up based on what will engage the employees as well as on what the brand wants to amplify.

Some Employee Advocacy tools allow users to import their own content feeds. By encouraging this approach, you’ll ensure the creation of a tribe of unique voices, something which is far better, and infinitely more credible, than an orchestrated chorus of parrots.  

4. Brand-first Approach:

Don’t just share branded content with your employees. They’ll want to protect their personal brand. If they only publish branded content, it impacts their credibility and authenticity.  For example, importing and sharing trending articles that aren’t brand related will help develop their online professional brands.  

5. Measuring the Wrong Metrics:

If you can’t measure the impact of your Employee Advocacy journey you:

• Won't know if you're achieving the objectives you set

 Will limit your ability to adapt and enhance your program over time

 Find it hard to communicate return on investment to leadership

 Struggle to secure investment to renew tool licenses next year

As with any social program, there are many things you can measure. Impressions, likes, comments, shares... the list goes on. Focus beyond some of the vanity metrics: Employee Advocacy costs money and no business will invest unless they see a return so you need to tie advocacy back to the business. Start with a convincing, high-level fact: high-performing firms with a formal Employee Advocacy program grow faster than those that don’t have one. They also report other benefits, including a shorter sales cycle, improved social selling, better top talent retention, and more.

The benefits are there to be realised but it’s critical that the right metrics are identified at an early stage. The key to building a compelling business case is to look right across the business.

It’s likely that many organisations are focused only on lead generation and conversion without realising that Employee Advocacy can affect many different departments and processes, which contribute directly to the bottom line.

Employee Advocacy Do's And Don'ts


 Do encourage employees to build their professional brand
 Do provide training to help employees on their journey
 Do recognise and reward your social superstars
 Do on-board leaders early on to encourage employees to take part


✘ Don’t encourage “shares win prizes” to incentivise spamming behaviour
✘ Don’t mandate participation
✘ Don’t just include branded content – mix it up with external industry content
✘ Don’t forget to analyse performance, relating back to the wider business objectives

Measuring Advocacy

Implementing a successful Employee Advocacy program turns your workforce into a sales force where potentially everyone can influence the buyer journey.

Here's a summary of ways to measure the success of your Employee Advocacy program. Don't forget to go back to your business cases and tie these to your desired outcomes:

 User metrics:

  • Percentage of employees participating in the program
  • Who are your most active employee advocates?
  • How frequently do users access the tool?
  • Are they accessing via desktop or mobile?  (Mobile users tend to share more consistently)
  • Average click to share ratio – do employees share content that generates engagement?

Employee advocacy content measurements

  • Overall reach – is Employee Advocacy increasing organic reach?
  • Posts with the highest reach
  • Posts with the highest clicks
  • Posts with the highest engagement
  • Most popular category
  • Most common type of content shared

Marketing measurements:

  • Inbound traffic driven to website
  • Conversion of employee-generated traffic on the website
  • Earned media value of clicks
  • Brand sentiment – has your NPS score increased since program launch?
  • Are brand social media channels attracting new audiences?

Measuring the impact of Employee Advocacy needs to be considered within the wider context of your business. Look at what your business already measures, then seek out correlations and comparisons based on the data you get within your Employee Advocacy tool.

With end-to-end attribution, there’s no reason why you can’t get to a position where you can confidently say, ‘X number of customers closed as a result of advocacy generating X pipeline’. This is possible today if you know how to build the framework to make it happen.


Employees and Influencers

A major difference between the standard Employee Advocacy program and
Employee Advocacy 2.0 is a change in mindset; shifting from viewing employees as a broadcasting channel to recognising employees as the largest pool of potential
brand advocates and influencers.

Employees are a company’s greatest asset – an engaged, motivated, and aligned workforce is essential to create quality products, sustain high morale, deliver exceptional customer service, and build positive brand reputation in the marketplace.

If brands put employees first and invest in them then, in return, employees will reward brands by becoming fans of the brand and delivering better results all round.

From a brand’s perspective there are 5 main motivations behind encouraging employee social media use today. The first two are the most common:

1. Encourage employees to share branded content to increase content reach and
access new audiences

2. More effective two-way channel to communicate with their employees than the
traditional intranet.

3. Increase staff retention by helping staff to develop and build their personal brands.

4. Encourage employees to create their own content online to increase
awareness and drive consideration in the marketplace.

5. Connect employees with external industry influencers to increase engagement
and influence in the marketplace offline and online.

An employee advocate is someone who can stimulate engagement and grow brand awareness among their audience through their digital media, social media, or offline channels. They have an audience that follow, and trust, their opinion.

There is also a
huge opportunity for employees to create their own content and increase their
overall influence in the marketplace by engaging and building relationships with
assigned influencers. This is an area in which employee advocacy overlaps with
influencer marketing.