Originally published in Atlanta Business Chronicle.

 

Across our clients, average organic reach on Facebook for brand content ranges between 4% and 2%. Organic reach on other social media platforms is also waning. On the paid social media front, Facebook’s average CPM and CPC rose 171% and 136% respectively in 2017 according to a study by AdStage. With organic reach lower than low and paid social campaign costs rising rapidly, what social media marketing tactic can a marketer employ to get brand content into the newsfeed? Many will smartly suggest an employee social media advocacy program. We agree. The MSL Group reports that brand messages are shared 24x more frequently when distributed by employees.

For many organizations though, it is a new-fangled approach formed and managed with missteps. Below are five basic tenets for successful employee social media advocacy programs.

1. INVEST IN A PLATFORM

Don’t try to run your employee social media advocacy program via your intranet. Like other functions such as CRM and social media management, there are established solution providers with valuable, specialized platforms for the job. Bambu, EveryoneSocial, GaggleAMP, LinkedIn Elevate, Post Beyond, and Socialbble are a few to review and consider. All will provide structure and functionality that supports our other key tenets. In addition, they easily scale for growth and integrate with other sales and marketing packages. Most importantly, these tools make it easy for your team members to advocate the business, providing them the right content at the right time to share on the social media platforms they feel are best based on their networks and publishing habits.

2. GENERATE A CONTENT STRATEGY

Establish a succinct publishing mission and content pillars. The publishing mission is a formal summary of your publishing aims. It should:

Clearly define who the content is for State how the content will satisfy the needs of the readership For instance, the publishing mission we established for Field & Stream Shop focused on enhancing every outdoorsman’s traditions. We evaluated every piece of content for publishing and sharing through that filter.

Content pillars are the four to six essential editorial subject matter areas that support your publishing mission.

3. APPLY TEAM MEMBER SEGMENTATION

Not all content should be shared by every team member on every platform. Segmenting team members by functional areas, management levels, tenure, interests, geography, social platform presence and prowess, followings, etc. is wise and effective. You then limit and tag content that is only pertinent and important for each group. Through grouping employees and tagging content, you will deliver the most relevant content to them and their respective audiences.

4. USE GAMIFICATION

Gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, particularly business activities. It may be utilized to foster learning a new skill, creating fun at work and empowering your employees to be engaged. For example, Deloitte gamified their training programs and as a result completion time dropped by 50%. Results are particularly impressive for employee social media advocacy. Bluewolf, the global business consulting firm, gamified online employee conversations and posting increased employee community activity by 57%.

Game elements may include points, levels, badges, leaderboards, etc. You will also wish to employ both monetary and non-monetary rewards. Monetary rewards can include lunches & dinners, passes for entertainment like concerts, plays, musicals and movies, merchandise, etc. Non-monetary rewards can comprise awards, conference sponsorships, mentoring opportunities and recognition in corporate communications and meetings.

5. PRACTICE ONGOING EVALUATION & OPTIMIZATION

Regularly examine the program, discerning if it is meeting expectations and objectives. Make sure to examine the contextual environment of program activity, incorporating not just clicks but also the related data points such as engagements, timing, reach, audience, lead-generation, etc. Monthly and quarterly reporting and analysis should be completed. Develop and test your assumptions and hypotheses to continually improve your program.

When you apply these five basic tenets to your employee social media advocacy program, you are assured a return-on-investment.