Employee Advocacy: The 7 Classic Mistakes

Interest in Employee Advocacy is growing. Today, it’s no longer just a trend or a marketing buzzword that sounds good; Employee Advocacy can be an effective and relevant strategy for companies. Social networks have been proven to have true value within the marketing approach of companies, whether in terms of reputation and visibility, employer brand or generating business.

On the other hand, implementing an Employee Advocacy strategy requires time and investment, whether in human or financial resources. The success of implementing this kind of approach depends on, at least, strategizing and planning in the medium term. However, it is precisely during this planning phase that errors can occur, which jeopardize the success of your Employee Advocacy project. In this article we will discuss some of those mistakes so that you can avoid them!

Discover the 7 classic mistakes in an Employee Advocacy strategy:

  • Involving all the employee ambassadors immediately
  • Everyone saying the same thing (echo chamber effect)
  • Believing that an Employee Advocacy tool will guarantee success
  • Believing that you can succeed without Employee Advocacy tools
  • Believing that it’s enough to just publish your brand content
  • Give priority to quantity over quality
  • Wanting to control the messages shared by your ambassadors


Employee Advocacy

Error #1: Involving all the employee ambassadors immediately

One of the most common mistakes when implementing an Employee Advocacy strategy is to implement a major program involving all the employees in the company from the outset. Being present on social networks cannot be imposed. The project must be understood, valued and supported for it to be a success. Employee Advocacy must be based on a voluntary basis and in no way be imposed or contractualized.

Not every employee will be particularly present or effective on social media.  For example, some will experience a kind of “impostor syndrome”: “Why should I be posting about a certain subject? Am I really legitimate?”. Others have not yet built a sufficiently relevant network on social media and have never prioritized their personal branding.

Involving everyone right away means you run the risk of being overwhelmed by the task and giving up after a matter of months. Employee Advocacy cannot be improvised. It requires you to accompany your employees in its implementation, including top and middle managers. The enthusiasm shown in the early days of the project can quickly fade. You have to be present enough to answer questions, to remove potential objections or obstacles and to guide your ambassadors towards autonomous behavior.

Our advice:

It’s a marathon not a sprint, you should advance step by step. Favor the implementation of a pilot stage with early adopters and profiles that can lead on the subject of Employee Advocacy. They should be ready to take up the challenge of becoming employee ambassadors. Through this template, and thanks to positive results and a proven internal approach, integrate new volunteer teams as you go along until the program is deployed on the desired scale.

Error #2: Everyone saying the same thing (echo chamber effect)

One of the most common errors related to Employee Advocacy is the “Echo Chamber” effect. When you want to involve everyone in relaying the brand’s content, you end up with all the employees broadcasting the same content at the same time, on the same social networks. With, on top of that, the understandable feeling of having “done the job”!

The goal of Employee Advocacy is not just to relay content but to give meaning and create value. This, as a side note, improves the previous employee objection around “legitimacy” of talking about a given subject. Beyond the distribution of content, the goal of Employee Advocacy is to initiate engagement, interaction and increase visibility of your content. Whether it is for a marketing, recruitment, employer brand, business or Social Selling objectives…

However, not all employees can talk about all subjects! Why not? Quite simply because the content they distribute must make sense and reflect their know-how, interests, professional experience and position them as experts in the specific market. Otherwise, you end up with someone who has relayed content but is unable to continue an exchange, resulting in a total loss of credibility.

Our advice:

Personalize, as much as possible, the content proposals to be relayed. It can be according to the distribution channels, themes, networks and people you wish to reach. Very often, a collaborator has peers in their network, from the same or similar professional environment/sector. The content that a collaborator broadcasts must also be consistent with what they are used to relaying if they are already active on social networks. It must be authentic, including the editorial line. Employee Advocacy must be seen as a long-term project, and therefore with real employee involvement. If employees don’t find themselves interested in what they broadcast, it can’t work.

Error #3: Believing that an Employee Advocacy tool will guarantee success

Without an effective strategy, an Employee Advocacy tool, no matter how efficient, can’t guarantee success. Without a corporate culture, an Employee Advocacy tool is just a tool.

The tool alone cannot be THE solution, it cannot solve a lack of content, a lack of employee involvement, a lack of transparency or a lack of communication. A software tool, whether it is Social Media Management, Marketing Automation or CRM, can only support a strategy. It can give you the means to succeed but can’t guarantee you success.

If employees do not feel comfortable being present on social networks, if they do not know why they are being asked to be present, if they do not feel valued within the project, putting a tool in their hands will not miraculously solve the problem.

In fact, it will often make the situation worse. Very quickly, the tool will be blamed for the failure of the Employee Advocacy strategy. In addition to the initial objections, the technology that was supposed to solve everything will also be rejected…

Our advice:

In reference to the marathon metaphor again: if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Without good upstream preparation, there can be no success. This means laying the right foundations, providing good support and explanation of the project internally. Predicting who, how, what, why, with what… The time devoted to good preparation can be directly correlated with the success of the project.

Error #4: Believing that you can succeed without Employee Advocacy tools

On the opposite side of the previous mistake, everything may be in place for a successful project, but you are missing the essential piece: the tool.

Why is a product dedicated to Employee Advocacy indispensable?

Without a dedicated platform, the process is quite often as follows: one person, mostly from marketing, is in charge of sending an email to the employees with the content to be relayed. Sometimes, pre-written posts are added to broadcast on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other… The perfect way to create the “echo chamber” effect! Not to mention the time-consuming aspect of the task.

Lost in the mass of emails received daily, added to their already busy schedule and tired of repetition, it is highly likely that the collaborators will stop relaying the content. Or you find that they do it automatically and therefore without any interest.

A platform dedicated to Employee Advocacy will, above all, enable them to centralize all of the brand’s content, set up a monitoring system for market insights, propose new content, personalize it by theme, by campaign, by distribution channel, and track qualitative and quantitative results. A mobile app also facilitates mobile access and improved responsiveness. The benefits and advantages are numerous: saving time, relevance, a collaborative approach, improved involvement…

Our advice:

Because the marathon metaphor is so good: we can run it in flip-flops or barefoot but it’s definitely easier in running shoes! Carefully choose the platform that will accompany you in your Employee Advocacy project. List the criteria that you feel are essential and don’t compromise on the quality and features that you expect.

Employee Advocacy

Error #5: Believing that it’s enough to just publish your brand content

You have defined the strategy, shared it with all the company’s employees, found the perfect tool, you have quality content and you’re on your way! And… it’s a flop. The employees are all in, they relay the proposed content, without an echo chamber effect, but nothing happens. Why?

Because it’s not enough to just relay content. You have to create a commitment, a relationship, an exchange. That’s the whole point of the approach. On a “social” network, it is a question of creating relationships between human beings. Not just relay content into the void whether people are interested or not.

The content must therefore be interesting for the audience whose attention you want to capture. It must also allow you to engage in a conversation, a debate, in order to build trust. A successful project also assumes that your collaborators get involved themselves, in this process of interacting on social networks, on other people’s publications.

Our advice:

Accompany the employees in the good practices of distributing content but also how to engage on social networks. There are tips to encourage a response, a reaction from online communities, without being a social media manager or community manager.

Error #6: Give priority to quantity over quality

A common mistake in Employee Advocacy is to publish, several times a day, all the available content until it loses its initial value. As in an Inbound Marketing strategy, quality is more important than quantity. It is, therefore, always preferable to publish quality publications at greater intervals than too many publications without a strategy. However, to ensure results, it is important to plan a minimum number of regular publications on the corporate accounts. The visibility of publications is, indeed, dependent on the algorithms of each platform. It is nuanced.

In the same way, what gives added value is the insight, the personal touch that each employee ambassador brings to the distribution of content. Depending on their expertise, their point of view on the subject, and their knowledge of the people in their network, each one can draw attention more precisely. It’s a more qualitative approach, which requires a little more time, but has much better results.

Our advice:

Use the analytics available in your Employee Advocacy tool to track the results of each employee ambassador and guide them in their use.

The number of shares per day, per channel, per content, the number of engagements generated and even the number of leads generated thanks to Call to Action are all elements that allow you to refine the strategy, make it more effective and clearly define the ROI.

Error #7: Wanting to control the messages shared by your ambassador collaborators

To enter into an Employee Advocacy project is to create value but also to reinforce the autonomy and confidence of the company’s employees. If there is a, quite understandable, fear for some people to be present on social networks that they have not yet necessarily mastered, it requires you to train and support them.

But once this essential step is over, once active on social networks, an employee must preserve their authenticity. There is nothing worse than a “corporate lingo” generated message.

On the other hand, a regular review can and should be conducted to advise and optimize the posts made by the ambassador employees.

Our advice:

Resist the temptation to control everything and trust your employees. Go step by step, by setting up demos or workshops, for example, to accompany the first social publications. And remember that these are their personal accounts and not the corporate ones.

Employee Advocacy is a truly effective and exciting strategy to implement. It has a positive impact on brand awareness, visibility, traffic to the brand blog or website, employer brand, qualified lead generation, business development… However, over enthusiasm or a lack of preparation can hinder the success of the project. Armed with these first 7 tips, you can already avoid some pitfalls or rectify a current strategy that isn’t giving the expected results.

If you have any questions about setting up an Employee Advocacy program, contact us! We will be happy to assist you!

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