To thrive in today’s marketplace, businesses need exceptional employees to acquire exceptional customers. The path to achieving these two elements, however, is something many businesses are just now starting to get a handle on—and employee advocacy is largely at the center of success.

At its root, employee advocacy is about empowering your team members to share valuable information with their social connections. Like word-of-mouth-marketing, it builds on the idea that customers (and even future employees) are more likely to respond to people they have a relationship with, versus what’s to them, a faceless corporation.

Building Your Foundation on ROI

The studies into employee advocacy ROI speak for themselves, one finding that up to 64% of brand advocates in formal programs claim that the approach has allowed them to reach new prospects and generate better conversions. That said, statistics like this doesn’t mean much for your program without a strong understanding of your own KPIs and metrics for success.

Before brands can invest in new marketing tactics, it’s important to first establish how they’ll measure potential results from an advocacy strategy—but in a world where 60% of marketers struggle to track their social media efforts, this isn’t always easy.

First and foremost, it’s important to have basic goals in mind that outline what you want to achieve by tapping into the social power of your team. This will help you to get an idea of metrics you’ll need to measure in order to track ROI. We’re going to explore into some of the most important steps necessary to extract employee advocacy ROI.

1. Closing the Loop on Social Recruiting Performance

As it becomes increasingly difficult for employers to fill jobs in today’s competitive landscape—46% stating that finding suitable candidates is their biggest hiring challenge—many organizations have turned to advocacy as a way to get new talent through the door.

Employee advocacy enables your workforce to act as extension of your Recruiting team by sharing job openings, exciting company news and highlights of strong company culture.

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This leads to positive messages around your workplace environment circulating in the social world, where 79% of job seekers search for new job opportunities.

The easiest way to measure the ROI of social recruiting is to compare the cost of acquiring candidates from social media to the cost of using job boards or hiring a third-party to fill talent gaps. Ultimately, most organizations will find that sourcing recruits through social media (for practically no initial investment), is the more effective—both from a cost and quality perspective—route to take.

Additionally, studies show that employee referrals through social channels have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate too. By attaching UTM parameters, you can track where your new recruits are coming from and use the information gathered to learn more about your KPIs.

2. Social Selling: Assessing Your Profits

Social media has quickly emerged as one of the most popular selling channels on the market today, seeing as 90% of top-performing salespeople are now using the social world in their sales strategy.

Of the sales reps that work online, 64% hit the sales quota for their team, compared to a far smaller number of 49% who hit their sales quota without social media and more than 10% of sales reps claim that that they’ve achieved 5 deals or more thanks to their social presence.

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See the Product

Employee advocates aren’t just people sharing positive messages about your company online. The right advocacy program also opens up new channels for your team to create and engage in relationships and enter into conversations with prospects in a much more natural way.

There are plenty of metrics that you can measure to assess the ROI of your social selling efforts, but some of the most important include:

Content Engagement Rate

  • Since 81% of customers would prefer to engage with people who have strong social media presences, it makes sense that an employee advocacy solution would generate more engagement with your target audience. Measure how many messages, likes, shares and retweets employees receive on branded content.

Prospect Referrals

  • If one of your advocates ends up having a conversation with a potential customer, they can send that customer through to your sales team, or website, creating a warm lead for your business. By using UTM parameters in the links shared by employees, you can track where your new clients are coming from.
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Network Growth

  • Since relationships are essential to success in the business world, it’s important to keep track of just how many good impressions you’re making. Your LinkedIn SSI score, combined with a general overview of the number of followers your team has on social media, could help you to assess network growth.

3. Measuring the Benefits of Post Engagement

Engagement is a powerful metric to measure when you’re hoping to prove the ROI of your employee advocacy strategy. If your goal is to achieve more brand awareness or greater customer relationships, then engagement is likely to be one of the main KPIs for your campaign.

When it comes to looking at engagement achieved from your advocacy strategy, there are different forms of engagement to measure:

Engagement Volume

  • This metric is simply the total impact of your messages, measured in twitter retweets, Facebook likes, and other similar metrics.

Engagement Rate

  • Engagement rate includes the volume of overall engagement divided by the number of events or users that could have triggered action. This helps you to get an idea of how efficient your sharing strategies are.
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Cost per Engagement

  • This is the volume of engagement divided by ad spend. Generally, advocacy is much cheaper than paying for targeted ads—brand messages reach 561% further than messages shared by the brand, so your reach could be instantly amplified.

Assessing your engagement KPIs will help you to determine just how effective your employee advocacy strategy is. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to change and update your content to fit the needs of your target audience.

4. Incorporating the Impact on Brand Awareness

Sometimes, the value of employee advocacy doesn’t come in the form of direct sales, but in the guise of visibility that could lead to additional conversions in the future. For example, 79% of surveyed firms suggest that they received more online awareness after they put a formal advocacy program into their campaign.

Brand Reach & Awareness

Awareness is one of the most difficult metrics to measure. The best thing you can do is think about how to measure success by looking at the total number of people connecting with your brand. Your followers, fans and page likes should go some way towards identifying how many people have taken an interest in your business since you started your advocacy campaign.

On Facebook, you can go onto the “Insights” tab of your page, and click “likes” to see your total gains and losses in terms of followers over the course of a certain period. On Twitter, you can see similar results by visiting the “Twitter analytics” section.

Website Traffic

Another sign that your company is getting more recognition because of your employee advocacy campaign, is that you now have more traffic on your website. Employees have an average of 10 times more connections than the average brand, and there are 3 billion people active on social media today. This means that your employee advocacy campaign has the power to generate a great deal of awareness for your company.

While having a substantial number of likes and retweets is good, unless you’re selling products and services directly from your social media channels, then you’re going to need to track the number of people who click through from your social pages to your website.

Some social media channels make it easier for you to get an insight into your success. The Facebook “Insights” section referenced earlier can highlight how many people clicked on your website link. You an also look to Google Analytics for a full breakdown of all traffic sources and funnel insights.

Keep in mind that it’s not only the amount of traffic on your website that makes a difference, but the quality of that traffic too. Be mindful that site visitors driven from employee advocacy efforts aren’t just bouncing straight off your page. In other words, you’ll also need to think about conversions, and ultimately, customer acquisition.

Tracking Employee Advocacy Success Through Conversions

In a recent survey, 80% of companies said they believed their salesforce would be more successful if they had a better social media presence. This isn’t surprising considering approximately 46% of social sellers hit their average sales quota, compared to 38% who don’t.

Although there are countless metrics and KPIs to consider when you’re trying to evaluate the full ROI of your employee advocacy program, conversions are often the most important concern for many executives. After all, businesses want to know that the money they’re spending on marketing campaigns is making them money in return.

Remember that “conversions” can mean different things to different companies, but most often it refers to an action—however you choose to define it—taken by a prospect to further engage your product or service. A conversion can come in the form of a resource download, demo request, or even additional subscribers to an email list or newsletter.

Tracking conversions through social media has historically been a little tricky, but as the landscape grows, we’re getting better at fully closing this loop.

Bringing Employee Advocacy ROI to the Forefront

While it might seem difficult to get reliable, quantitative insight into the success of employee advocacy, as long as you know the metrics important to your business and have a way to track the program, uncovering the ROI doesn’t have to be as complicated as we once believed it to be.

Whether you’re hoping to improve social recruiting, social selling or simply want to raise awareness for your brand, employee advocacy has the power to take your company to the next level. By using these tips to get started, you’ll have the resources to demonstrate just how effective your employe advocacy program can be.