Loren McDonald is a Marketing Evangelist for IBM Watson Marketing. McDonald is responsible for driving content strategies that increase retention and product usage of existing IBM Marketing Clouds. In his current role, McDonald identifies internal employees and encourages them to share industry-adjacent content on their personal social media accounts. The Marketing Evangelist’s efforts position IBM Watson Marketing’s team as thought leaders within their industry, helps increase brand awareness and drives employee engagement.

When asked what kind of assistance an organization needs to enable its workforce with in order to successfully introduce and execute employee advocacy efforts, McDonald cited management buy-in as the single most important factor.

“Being an advocate and spending time on thought leadership activities, requires a time commitment, even if it is only a small part of someone’s job,” said McDonald. “Management buy-in ensures that the employee can allocate the appropriate time.”

But how can marketing and HR professionals convince key decision makers that employee advocacy efforts are worth additional headcount, time and monetary investment? And, more importantly, why should they?

A study conducted by the Aberdeen Group revealed that companies with formal employee advocacy programs have a 26% increase in year over year revenue. An increase that can be attributed to the fact that invested employees go above and beyond to meet or exceed deadlines and goals. And, in doing so, impact an organization in measurable ways ranging from customer referrals to annual sales team quotas. The foundation for reaching that 26% increase in year over year revenue starts with curating the right content and attracting new talent.

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Thoughtfully Curated Content Rewards

The Aberdeen Group found that specific components of a formal advocacy program often correlate with exponential gain. The study revealed that best-in-class organizations are 3x more likely to empower employees to share content with their social networks and 51% more likely to enable employees to search and access relevant articles in content repositories. Proving that, if brands are serious about reaping the benefits of employee advocacy, curating thoughtful social content for employees is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s non-negotiable.

Encouraging your employees to share industry-adjacent content to their personal social profiles requires an engaged workforce complimented by management committed to investing in an employee’s professional development. IBM Watson Marketing does this by allocating budget for travel and registration costs to support employee advocates to speak at or attend appropriate industry conferences. During these learning opportunities, employees share real-time content that aids in moving advocacy efforts forward.

BlueGrace Logistics, a technology, transportation and logistics company that has also benefited from curating content for its employees to share. Before BlueGrace launched a formal advocacy program, there was no pipeline for delivering information about the company to employees. Most staffers had personal accounts, and these were not used as much for pushing content—they were more about interactions with customers and employees.

The organization began to curate content for employees. In fact, 75% of what BlueGrace shares with its employees is owned content and roughly 25% is third-party. The organization also works to incentivize employees to submit and share content with weekly contests. Since launching its program, BlueGrace increased its website visits by 180%!

Attract New Talent

When an organization’s employees share thought leadership content, it positions their team as credible, authoritative, experts within the space. Brands should leverage this by encouraging their employees to share job listings. Especially since 44.5% of people say they are more likely to apply for a job if they saw their friend post about the position on social rather than through other means.

In order to get employees to share job listings, an organization first needs to invest in a platform that easily enables them to do so. In fact, best-in-class organizations are are 30% more likely to have a platform for employees to view and share job openings.

An employee advocacy program centered around social sharing is a critical component of best-in-class organizations looking to increase revenue, drive brand awareness and build a pipeline for new talent. The only thing standing in the way of your organization reaping the benefits? Buy-in.