Employee Storytelling Recruitment Marketing

How to Make Your Employee Advocacy Program a Success

How to Make Your Employee Advocacy Program a Success_
Profile photo of Jen Dunn
Written by Jen Dunn

Employee advocacy is a powerful way to spread your company’s story in the most honest and convincing way, but it can cause concerns about privacy and ensuring a consistent, branded message. Jen Dunn from Vanguard offers her strategies for successfully launching an Employee Advocacy Program without sacrificing company security or your employer brand.

How to Make Your Employee Advocacy Program a Success
4.7 (93.33%) 3 votes

As Recruitment Marketing and talent acquisition pros, you know that no matter how dialed in your corporate employer brand efforts may be, it’s often no match for employee-generated content. Beyond telling a more honest and convincing story about your organization and its values; when employees share your content it also exposes your organization to far more people and prospective candidates. Think about it like this: if you have 10 employees who have 1,000 people in their network, your audience size has now grown by 10,000! 

The benefits of employee advocacy are being realized by more and more companies and I wanted to share my experience implementing a program in the finance industry. One particular challenge we had was getting buy-in to leverage social media to promote our company and its employees. That’s because the finance industry is heavily regulated. And more often than not, organizations would discourage the use of social media rather than risk potentially sharing or saying the wrong thing.

Jen Dunn, Vanguard

Jen Dunn, Employee Advocacy Program Manager, Vanguard

However, we knew that as the candidate landscape grew increasingly more competitive, we didn’t want to stay “offline” much longer. As the manager of Vanguard’s employee advocacy program since 2019, I’m here to share how my team and I worked through these challenges to successfully implement #LifeAtVanguard. Our approach to launching an employee advocacy program consisted of 4 strategies:

  1. Developing company-wide social media guidelines 
  2. Training our leaders to use social media in a way that serves as inspiration for the rest of the company
  3. Educating employees and getting buy-in using a newsletter  
  4. Creating and sharing content that provides an authentic view into what it’s like to work at Vanguard 

I hope that by sharing our experience implementing an advocacy program, you’ll gain inspiration and a few new ideas to take back to your own organization to successfully implement and manage an employee advocacy program. With that, let’s jump in!

Rally note: For more helpful tips on building out your company’s employee advocacy program, be sure to read our article 5 Ways to Build an Effective Employee Advocacy Program.

A top-down approach to implementing an employee advocacy program

Due to the heavily regulated nature of the finance industry, opening up and engaging on social media wasn’t something you typically saw among Vanguard and its competitors; more accurately, it wasn’t encouraged. This posed a unique challenge when it came time to launch our employee advocacy program — convincing both leaders and employees to get behind sharing on social media would involve both change management and a clear upside

We wanted to make sure that it started with support and clear guardrails, so we got to work building out social media guidelines in accordance with Vanguard’s communications policy. If you work in a heavily regulated industry, I can’t stress enough the importance of collaborating with the right teams to make sure you get it right. At every step along the way, we worked closely with key internal stakeholders to make sure the program stayed in accordance with Vanguard’s policies, regulations and guidelines. 

Next, we knew that if we wanted employees across the company to start promoting on their social media, we needed our leaders to set the example. To accomplish this, we held “Rock Your LinkedIn Profile” sessions with members of our senior leadership team. During these sessions, we reviewed each leaders’ social media presence, educated them on the importance of engaging on LinkedIn and offered advice on how they could use their social media to better serve as inspiration for other employees in the company. 

Once we had our senior leaders on board, we began conducting similar sessions with business units that supported key talent at Vanguard. These sessions, which focused on leveraging LinkedIn and building your personal brand, emphasized the importance of social advocacy, provided step-by-step guides for enhancing social media profiles and offered advice on how to stand out as a thought leader in the industry.

Next, we launched The Social Round Up, a weekly, company-wide newsletter bolstering our employee advocacy strategy. In it, our employees could find best practices for sharing content on their social channels, good examples of content shared by other employees and resources to more easily promote new pieces of content across their own social channels. To round out the Round Up, we also launched a branded hashtag (#LifeAtVanguard) to encourage our employees to participate in social and share all the great content we have!  

The Social Round Up using #LifeAtVanguard

An example of the company-wide newsletter, The Social Round Up, which shares best practices and examples for employees to share content. 

Choosing the right content to share for employee advocacy

With the proper infrastructure in place, our leaders trained and ready to set the example on social media and a growing number of our employees willing to participate, our final step was to determine the Recruitment Marketing content we wanted to be shared. 

In addition to managing the employee advocacy program, I lead the curation of Vanguard’s Careers Blog. With employee experience at the center of the blog each week, I knew that it was the perfect place to source our content. 

On any given week, we might partner with our DEI team, community stewardship team or any of the myriad other teams across Vanguard to post content highlighting:

  • Day-in-the-life stories
  • DEI-related initiatives, employee resource groups and events
  • Community involvement, culture and work experience
  • Virtual hiring tips 
  • Career advice

In choosing what we wanted to share, we prioritized content that provided an accurate, interesting and useful view into what it’s actually like working for Vanguard. For example, one piece of content we share is Our Voyage to Vanguard series, which details how current employees ended up in their current position at Vanguard. For a candidate looking for a clear path to a career with us, this type of content is invaluable. 

Vanguard Career blog

An example of a post on Vanguard’s Careers Blog.

To stretch our content’s reach even further, we repurpose our blog posts for social media — clipping them into short employee testimonials, quotes or snippets. We also repeat this process for blog content on our microsites for targeted hiring initiatives, events and email campaigns. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Life at Vanguard (@lifeatvanguard)

An Instagram post repurposing blog content. 

How our employee advocacy program has evolved 

We’re happy to report that 3 years after starting our #LifeAtVanguard employee advocacy program, it stands today as a huge success. Our branded hashtag has grown to 2,000 followers, our Social Round-Up newsletter has grown to 2,700 subscribers and we’ve seen an uptick in apply attempts resulting from social traffic, with LinkedIn being the leading social source.   

Today, we’re focused on taking our employee advocacy program to the next level! We’ve begun using an employee platform called EveryoneSocial. To date, we’ve onboarded just over 100 ambassadors to the platform and we plan to greatly expand in 2021.

Rally note: For more tools to help you better implement your employee advocacy program, be sure to check out our article 12 Tools to Boost Your Employee Advocacy Program here!

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The reality is that no one can tell a more honest and convincing story about your organization and its values than your employees. In getting your employees to advocate for your brand, products or services, you also gain access to their personal networks, each containing potentially thousands of new connections. 

Hopefully, you can use our experience at Vanguard as proof that, no matter what industry you work in or how many obstacles you face, you can make employee advocacy a huge success. If you’re interested in chatting more about employee advocacy, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!

How to Make Your Employee Advocacy Program a Success
4.7 (93.33%) 3 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Jen Dunn

Jen Dunn

Jen Dunn is Employee Advocacy Program Manager at Vanguard. She's passionate about delivering creative solutions and focused on building strong working relationships as well as attract talent and spread brand awareness in new and innovative ways.

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