Social media experts from local, state and federal government recently gathered for the Government Social Media Conference in Reno, Nevada, where they discussed everything from live streaming video to crisis management on social and even employee advocacy tips.

Jennifer Davies, Public Information Officer for the City of Las Vegas, joined Sprout Social VP of Marketing, Andrew Caravella, for a conversation on the first year of the city’s successful employee advocacy program. Along with an overview of employee advocacy, Jennifer shared the best practices and strategies she has employed to empower her team to increase brand awareness by 275%.

We’ve rounded up some of Jennifer’s sage advice to help you create or improve your own employee advocacy program. And if you need any help, the Bambu team is just a click away.

1. Lay the groundwork on social media before getting employees involved

It may sound like a no-brainer, but before kicking off an employee advocacy program, your brand needs to be present on social. Jennifer emphasized the importance of having a strong foundation in terms of your official presence before expanding to employee advocacy. That means having a sound strategy in place, with active brand profiles on key networks and with engaged stakeholders who understand the value of social.

2. Get buy-in by explaining the benefits

If you’re asking something new of your employees, it’s critical to get them on board first. Give your team an inside look at your social media strategy and the potential impact that their social posts can have to the organization. Make sure to elaborate on the benefits for them personally:

  • Free social media training and support
  • Professional development
  • Becoming a thought leader and go-to expert

3. People want to get involved with social–so use advocacy as the way in

In large organizations, it is common to have multiple social profiles representing different locations, products, departments or goals. Without a clear social media strategy that accounts for managing all of these profiles, multiple accounts can quickly get unwieldy or be left silent when the original creator changes roles or leaves the company.

encouraging employee advocacy

When employees want to contribute to the city’s official social media pages, Jennifer asks them to start by becoming an active brand advocate, as opposed to a page manager. Her employees have found that being an advocate on their own terms is a more sustainable (and fun) way to contribute.

4. Looking for fresh content? Help your team help you

While technology has come a long way, having a smart phone doesn’t automatically make us all great photographers. Part of Jennifer’s training for employees includes the basics of photography and clear instructions for capturing events. She asks people to take multiple photos and consider elements like lighting and composition so they can get the best quality shot. This way when employees Tweet or post images to their personal profiles, their pictures are more likely to be good options for Jennifer to share from the city’s official pages.

5. Recognize your advocates’ efforts and share the results

People love free stuff, but that can be a challenge to anyone’s budget—especially a government agency. Certain items like gift cards may need to be taxed, which takes some of the fun out of recognition. Instead, come up with creative or experiential rewards that show employees that you value their contributions.

In the City of Las Vegas’ case, Jennifer invited the employee ambassadors to attend and live-tweet an annual event where the mayor was giving a speech, and bought them dinner as a thank you for their contributions.

You can recognize your advocates daily by liking and sharing their content from your brand’s official handles as well as by sharing the results of your program. Set goals for the program as a whole as well as for individuals, and give program participants updates on the impact they’re making for your team: how many applicant referrals they drive, how many impressions your program has made and so on.

Jennifer has graciously provided some of the resources she uses to drive employee advocacy among City of Las Vegas employees. Get an overview of the #CLVAction Takers program, Social Media 101 and 201 training presentations and examples of internal messaging here—download the presentations and be sure to read the presenter notes to get all of the details.

Learn how Jennifer and her team have earned a 275% increase in brand impressions and a 320% spike in total stories shared in the City of Las Vegas Case Study.