How we use advocacy to overcome social media challenges at Sprout
Algorithm shifts. Economic uncertainty. Crowded feeds. Like all social marketers, this is the social landscape our team faces. At Sprout, we turn to employee advocacy to help us overcome our most pressing challenges and amplify our content.
“Advocacy is our secret superpower for creating awareness,” says Olivia Jepson, Sprout Social’s Senior Social Media Strategist. “Amplification is the key to breaking through the noise, increasing our reach and standing out on social.”
In this article, we are showcasing how employee advocacy turns our greatest challenges into our strongest opportunities. Keep reading for a deep dive into our strategy and actionable steps you can follow to fuel your advocacy program.
Why advocacy matters
Our employees are our greatest asset on social. That’s why we rely on advocacy to solve our hardest problems and bolster our overall strategy. Here are four ways our advocacy program delivers solutions to common social media challenges.
Extends reach and awareness
Social media challenge #1: Achieving organic reach on social is harder than ever.
If you’re struggling to breakthrough on social, turn to your employees to widen your audience and grow your brand community. On average, content shared by employees receive more total engagements than content shared by brands.
According to Rachael Goulet, our Senior Manager of Social Media, “Advocacy is the easiest way to extend our reach. Through Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform, we drove almost 8 million impressions in the last two years, and expect to receive 10 million impressions by the end of 2022. That’s more organic impressions than any of our social networks could drive.”
When employees celebrate our company’s culture and share their authentic experiences, interest in Sprout ripples across their social networks.
Attracts the best candidates
Social media challenge #2: More than 50% of marketers say finding experienced talent is difficult this year.
Allow your current employees to expand your search and generate interest in working for our company.
At Sprout, advocacy gives us more opportunities to attract top talent. Our team members are eager to post about their experience with our brand. Their messages are the most compelling examples of company culture we can offer prospective candidates and they help us stand out in a crowded playing field.
Many Sprout teams work together to curate posts about open roles, product awards and cultural recognitions. Our advocacy program makes it as easy as possible for our team members to share these announcements with their networks by putting them all in one place.
Engages and empowers employees
Social media challenge #3: Struggling to engage employees and mitigate potential risks from employee-generated content.
By allowing your employees to take a shared role in your company’s identity, you show them your trust. Be sure to provide helpful resources and a continuous pipeline of content to make your program successful.
When curating a story for our team to share in our advocacy platform, we provide pre-approved social copy so they feel confident they’re staying on-brand—while we’re reassured they’re representing our brand positively. Employees can personalize the message idea before sharing it, guaranteeing that not every post is the same.
Regardless of a team member’s comfort with social media or experience developing their thought leadership, employee brand amplification makes representing Sprout online accessible.
According to Micaela McGinley, Sprout’s Internal Communications Strategist, “In a digital, remote-first work environment, the days of popping over to the next cubicle are behind us. We have to make sure our content resonates and is easily shareable. Sprout’s Advocacy solution empowers people to stay active on their social networks and spread exciting news.”
Olivia adds, “Advocacy allows us to target our entire team to amplify a campaign. Every single member of our company can participate, no matter their department or social media experience—it goes beyond marketing.”
Fortifies faith in social
Social media challenge #4: Securing social buy-in.
Advocacy pays off and improves your social strategy ROI.
Proving the value of social to stakeholders can be challenging, especially on networks like LinkedIn where it’s increasingly difficult to gain traction and expensive to place ads. By showing the impact of your advocacy program, you can help secure investment and resources.
As Rachael says, “When you consider the size and scope of the audience you’re able to reach with advocacy, you can compare how much you would’ve spent on a media budget to make the same impact. In the last year alone, we achieved an earned media value of $320,000, and we’ve been able to reach the right people—something that isn’t always guaranteed with paid media.”
How we use Sprout’s Advocacy platform
To answer the important question: At Sprout, all the responsibility doesn’t fall on our social team’s shoulders alone. There’s a lot of cross-functional partnership. Here’s a breakdown of how we use our Advocacy platform and other Sprout tools to support our brand amplification function.
How we curate
Our social, PR and content teams collaborate to decide which content we promote in our Advocacy platform. We include our content (launch materials, blog posts, social content, etc.) and third party articles.
We prioritize sharing:
- Employer brand content
- Owned and earned thought leadership
- Industry insights and news
- Recruitment content
Individuals from those teams curate new stories in the platform on a regular basis. In total, we typically share four to five stories per week.
To curate a story, we add a link to the content, an internal note and three to eight versions of social copy customized for each network.
Our internal distribution strategy
From there, our team can share the story to their social profiles right from the Current Stories feed.
To encourage sharing among our team, we also send out weekly digests with our latest high priority content stories. As Olivia says, “We schedule a weekly newsletter every Thursday morning, so we always have fresh content for our team to share.”
Links from the newsletter will take team members to our Advocacy platform, where they can share our content.
The Sprout features that help integrate advocacy into our larger strategy
According to Rachael, her other favorite advocacy-forward Sprout features are:
- Advocacy reporting tools
In the platform, you’re able to pull data like potential reach, earned media value, shares, engagements and other metrics that can help you determine which stories perform best with your team and their audiences.
Across all Sprout properties, you can tag your messages based on your workflows, business objectives and marketing strategies—which makes it easy to track how well Advocacy content performs. The platform also offers UTM tagging, a sophisticated tool that can help you demonstrate how curated content impacts your website’s traffic.
- Send to Advocacy function
Whether it’s posts you’ve already published or third party content you’re sourcing, you can use the Send to Advocacy feature in Sprout’s Compose tool to seamlessly add new sources to our advocacy platform.
Sprout’s Advocacy platform: The key to amplifying your brand
The challenges social marketers face aren’t going away. Yet, a strong performance on social media is becoming more and more important for brands.
The key to up-leveling your brand’s social performance is tapping into your employees and their networks on social. Employee advocacy helps you extend your brand’s reach, attract the best candidates, empower your employees and prove the value of social to stakeholders.
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