Home Blog Corporate Communications|Employee Communications|Trends What are the *real* incentives for employees to advocate for your brand on social media channels?

What are the *real* incentives for employees to advocate for your brand on social media channels?


I currently work with a couple clients on managing and developing “Employer Brands” on social media.

What that means, essentially, is developing a brand that will help retain and recruit the best and brightest talent for the company.

It’s interesting work. I love it. It combines two loves of mine: employee communications and social media.

And one big part of that kind of work is figuring out how to engage and incent existing employees to advocate for the brand online.

It’s not as easy as many lead you to believe.

Chipotle Share

How many blog posts have you read with the “tip”: Activate your employees! They’re your biggest fans!

I mean, do the people writing these “tips” NOT think we know that? How stupid do you think I am? This is 2015. I’m pretty sure about 99.9% of the marketing workforce now readily understands that employees are a valuable asset when it comes to social media promotion.

Yet, you still hear the tip.

What you DON’T hear nearly as much about, is how, exactly, you would go about doing that.

And, that’s what I want to talk about today.

HOW do you encourage employees to share your message? HOW do you incent them? HOW do you set up a program that aligns employees with your core goals and strategies?

There are certainly a plethora of tools out there that will help you do just that. And, some of them are flat-out fantastic.

But, they’re just tools. Without a strategy for HOW you’re going to encourage and potentially, reward, your employees to share, your big employee advocacy plan is going to fall flat on its face.

It just is.

So, how do you do it? I’d like to offer up four thought starters:

Incent them with product

I’ve seen this work well on numerous occasions. And, the logic makes sense. If you work for a company that “produces” something (computers, phones, furniture, etc.), chances are your employees actually like/enjoy that product. If they didn’t, they’d probably be working some place else. But, they work for your company. They believe in your products. So, why not use those products as an incentive to encourage employees to post via social? Internal contests/sweepstakes are the logical choice here.

Build on employee pride during key moments

Maybe your brand has a Super Bowl commercial for the first time ever. Wouldn’t that be the perfect moment to play on employee pride? Or, what about a new product launch at a major conference? Same deal. Think about key events and moments that make your employees proud to work for your firm–and play on that.

Include personal asks

Instead of always trying to scale, think about how you can make it personal. A one-to-one email can go a long ways with an employee. Plus, all these personal asks add up over time. Once you engage one employee, he or she becomes just a bit more of an advocate. Do that 20 times and you have a little group of employees who are all promoting your content. That might not scale for a company with hundreds of thousands of employees, but most companies don’t have hundreds of thousands of employees. Just 20 employees promoting content would make a big difference for those companies.

Make it all about their personal brand

If you can somehow figure out a way to help employees build their personal brands, while at the same time helping you promote content–you’ve got the secret sauce! Now, the trick is not making their personal brand so big they find other employment–at least, that’s the concern I hear from folks all the time. My comeback: you’re going to lose star employees. It’s a fact of life. Focus on challenging these superstars and giving them opportunities to grow and they’ll stick around longer. So, back to the point at hand: How do you create these win-win situations? What about hand-picking 30 employees to serve as your chief brand ambassadors online? Your chief promoters. This way, you’re giving them a title they can leverage for future opportunities. And, much like I said above, you’re getting a small army of people out there shouting your message from the mountaintops. Win-win.



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