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Creating A Company Of Social Advocates: How to Get Your Employees To Share Your Content

social_advocates_blogIf you’re a community manager, you’re hard at work sharing content with your social media audience.

But if your company doesn’t have a content advocacy program, you’re missing out on a strong opportunity for content sharing and building brand awareness. Make sure every avenue for growth is open and well-traveled by getting your employees to act as ambassadors for your brand, spreading your goodness with heretofore untapped audiences and in the process receiving important feedback on how to move forward with content creation – what your customers and potential customers find engaging, and what they’re not feelin’.

Developing a content advocacy program is also a great way to let employees know that their social media actions are important to the success of your business and have a very real effect on even indirectly-related departments. Read on for tips on building a program like this and measuring results so that your social advocates can share in the win.

Make sure they know it’s important.

Your coworkers aren’t engulfed in marketing and social media all day, like you are. So they may not even recognize the importance. Let them know why its important that they share your content:

  • Because people are more likely to share content when it’s recommended by people they know (versus brands). 

You follow Slate magazine on Twitter. They Tweet out a link to a new article, with a short description: “One man’s quest to find unicorns in Siberia.” It looks interesting, but you’re pretty busy at work, and there’s so much of interest on your feed already. An hour later, your friend Tweets out the same link with the text “Must-read article on how unicorns bathe in Siberia.” You click through to read.

Why? The descriptive text is almost identical. Your feed is just as busy right now as it was an hour ago. It’s because, no matter how close community managers are able to make us feel to their brands, social media users are still aware they’re brands that will rep their content exuberantly no matter what it is. With the possible exception of especially trusted industry news sources like The New York Times or Social Media Examiner, folks are more likely to connect with content and feel confident in its value via word-of-mouth from “real” people – a human-based filtering process of all the brand and news chatter that social media explodes with on the daily.

  • Because the more shares you have, the more legitimate your organization seems.

This is an extension of the reason above, but it’s worth calling out individually. The more shares you have, the more people are seeing your content – duh. But that’s not all. The more shares a piece of content has – which you should be visible on your site with buttons – the more important that piece of content (and your company by extension) seems. People begin to feel like, to keep up with industry news, they’ve got to read your piece. And when you rack up enough posts with this kind of social cred, they begin to feel like they’ve got to visit your site organically to stay ahead of the news curve. At least, that’s the hope.

  • Because your employees’ followers could line up with your target audience. 

Let’s say you’re REI. Your target demographic is outdoorsy folks who ride their bikes to work. Well, I’d be willing to bet that there are a lot of people who fit in this category working at your company. And I’d also be willing to bet that those people are active on social media in some sense, and have friends and followers that resemble their demographic profiles. These people might not be aware of your new blog initiative or contest campaign, but will be far more willing to invest time in it when they’re getting the 411 from someone they’ve gotten an organic microbrew with rather than a brand’s Twitter handle.

Make it easy.

Your employees are busy. Don’t make seeking out your content an additional groan-inducing task. That’s just one more blocker in between your employee and your content. Send out a short daily round-up email with each piece of content’s title, a one-sentence description of each piece of content, and a link that directly Tweets out the content from your employee’s personal Twitter handle or Facebook account (with the option to modify with juicy descriptive text). Or, if you have one dashboard that employees must sign on to every day, put your most important piece of content front and center with a splashy, hard-t0-ignore visual.

Game-ify it.

You’ve got to incentivize your social advocacy program to make it fruitful. That means prizes, like a free bottle of booze or gift card for the employee who drives the most content shares each month. That means sharing the winner with your company to provide recognition. And how do you measure to reward the rightful winners? The Website Influencer Report makes it a snap.

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In fact, you could even award employees prizes in each category, like Most Creative Tweet, by checking out the Detailed Metrics on Top Users feature of the Website Influencer Report:

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Even consider making social advocacy an inter-department battle to really get those competitive juices flowing, with the reward being a department outing of the winner’s choosing.

Validate it.

Asking employees to get aggressive about sharing your content forces content creators to ask themselves some tough questions. Are you providing valuable content to your audience? If not, even the most staunchly loyal, swag-lovin’ employees are going to find it hard to share your content, because it reflects poorly on them. So start tracking your blog and/or site’s success with the Blog Performance Report.

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This is a great way to show accountability, celebrate successes, and learn from failures as you get your content machine into the groove – it could also be a good jumping-off point for a monthly email to your company regarding the status of your organization’s content arm.

What do you do?

So tell me – what do you do to get your employees spreading your delicious content? What incentives do you offer? Let me know in the comments below. And if you want a taste of our sweet analytics to help you implement a social advocacy program at your own organization, simply click below for a free 14-day trial.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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