What is employee advocacy
Social media is an ever-changing space where companies, including law firms, must constantly evolve and revaluate their practices. One thing we know for sure is that, in an era where audiences are tuning out brands and becoming more reluctant to engage with company updates, having a people-first approach is vital to your success strategy.
Simply put, people tend to engage with other people more readily than they do with brands. In fact, 93% of people trust brand recommendations from friends and family over advertising, proving that word-of-mouth still matters in the digital age. Hence why posts with human value will help your firm stand out among competitors on social media and strengthen your reputation. This is where employee advocacy comes in. It is the promotion of your firm by the people who work there on their personal accounts. Everything from blog articles, and industry resources, to case studies, recent wins, and job postings.
Employee advocacy can also come in the form of firm members sharing personal content that offers a glimpse into your firm’s culture. This is a great chance to shape your firm’s brand strategy by showcasing your core values. For example, if you’d like to be seen as a firm with a community-driven approach, having employees share a volunteer work experience organized by the firm, can help boost that notion.
It is important to note that, for the purposes of this article, employee advocates can be anyone working at a law firm including partners, associates, legal assistants, and other personnel.
Impact on marketing strategy
Employee advocates are an untapped resource that can help you reach new audiences and build your brand awareness. If you’re looking to stand out from the competition, grab new clients, or increase loyalty among existing clients, then employee advocacy is the perfect solution for your firm.
Amplified trust and credibility
Believe it or not, when it comes to employee advocacy, law firms already have the upper hand without even knowing it. For companies in other industries, getting employees to a level where they are seen as authority figures requires years of training. However, because of the nature of their profession, lawyers already have to be experts in their practice area to be able to provide legal counsel.
This means that lawyers are already likely to be trusted by their peers and clients. Trust is the ultimate currency when it comes to audience engagement on social media and the most influential factor when deciding to purchase a product or service. And, at a time when almost two thirds of people feel like they are being misled or taken advantage of with targeted advertising, employee advocacy can be the perfect tool to leverage the trust that your lawyers have earned and continue building upon it.
The best part is that this approach to social selling is relatively fresh to the legal sector, so it’s likely that your competitors haven’t implemented something similar to begin with. Most law firms are only beginning to understand the importance of being online across multiple channels and haven’t reached maturity on social media, so employee advocacy remains a huge opportunity to innovate in the legal marketing field.
Why is employee advocacy important for your firm?
The key to a law firm’s success strategy often relies on the reputation and visibility of its lawyers. Creating an employee advocacy program gives your firm another opportunity to engage with potential clients, build up your credibility and expand the visibility of your brand.
When lawyers promote themselves on social media, they are also promoting the firm they work for. If a lawyer in particular is social media savvy and creates relevant content on a regular basis, they will become a thought leader online, and eventually, they will be dedicated advocates who can help your organization expand its reach beyond any other marketing efforts that you currently have in place.
To illustrate this point, we need to consider the potential reach of personal social media accounts versus company accounts. According to LinkedIn, employees have social networks that are 10 times larger than their company’s network. This means that every employee post has the potential to reach 10 times more people than the same post shared by your firm. And, considering that LinkedIn alone is a major distribution channel from companies in both B2B and B2C sectors, these metrics represent an incredible opportunity for law firms to take advantage of.
Now, if we take into account other social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, the reach will become much wider, and suddenly, the idea of implementing an employee advocacy strategy will start to sound more appealing to your firm’s partners and decision makers.
That being said, it is not mandatory to use all social networks to conduct a successful employee advocacy strategy. Keep in mind that the medium is the message and what works for audiences on LinkedIn might not necessarily work on other platforms. The key is to think about your goals and the type of clients you want to target. If you’re aiming to enhance your corporate law practice, consider implementing a thought leadership focused strategy on LinkedIn. On the other hand, Twitter and Facebook could help you gain more traction with B2C oriented practice areas such as personal injury and employment law.
If you’re wondering how this would impact your firm by the numbers, we used Hootsuite’s calculator to measure how much the reach of one of our client’s would grow with a well-structured employee advocacy program:
This calculator measures the potential reach based on the average number of followers that each employee has in their personal social media accounts. However, keep in mind that a successful employee advocacy program doesn’t require 100% of your staff to participate. Your firm can benefit immensely by having a few dedicated advocates. Remember that quality is better than quantity, especially when attempting to connect with oversaturated audiences on social media.
How to encourage lawyers to become advocates on social media?
One of the main concerns you may have about implementing an employee advocacy program could be lack of interest from lawyers as they may not want to mix their personal social media accounts with work.
Present the value of social media interactions
Oftentimes the reason why lawyers may be reluctant to participate is because they don’t really see the value in social media interactions. The best way to approach this is showing them that there’s valuable connections ready to engage with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook every day. All it takes is showing them how their competitors and industry leaders are engaging with their clients.
Another way to encourage lawyers to participate is to show them that they are in control of what they share. They are free to engage with their audience in a casual way that allows them to control their digital representation and be their authentic selves.
Create a Social Media training program
Other lawyers may be willing to participate but lack the knowledge and confidence to post content on a regular basis. You can approach this by implementing a social media training program with simple guidelines on the type of content you’d like them to post on their personal accounts and how often they should be posting. List a few ideas and examples they may take inspiration from and help them become familiar with the firm’s brand guidelines.
All employees are different, and their set of skills may not align with the goals that you have set for the campaign. Therefore, having a set of best practices in place will give you a clear idea on how to give feedback on their posts and it will ensure the program doesn’t stall after the initial excitement and momentum have died down. If you’re unsure on how to get started, Hootsuite offers a free social media policy template that you can use as a starting point to create guidelines for your employees.
Embrace professional diversity
Lastly, don’t forget to include other professionals besides lawyers in your EA program. It is likely that a significant percentage of your employees are performing other roles at the firm, and their advocacy contributions have an enormous potential to increase the reach of the campaign.
Steps to implement and maintain an employee advocacy strategy on social media.
Like any other marketing strategy, your employee advocacy campaign needs to be measurable. Establishing goals early on will help you determine whether the initiative is thriving or failing. Try to narrow down a few concrete targets to begin with. For example:
- Gain X number of LinkedIn followers within a certain time frame.
- Increase website traffic from social media by X%.
- Boost social media engagement by X%
- Increase the number of quarterly leads by X%.
Identify opinion leaders and top contributors
There’s a good chance that even if you don’t have an employee advocacy program in place, there are members within your organization who already share your content online. This can be as simple as posting something from the firm website on Facebook or sharing links to recent blog posts in emails with clients or colleagues outside of work.
If you can identify these voluntary advocates who naturally go above and beyond when it comes to sharing content, you can work with them to expand their efforts into formalized programs that help you reach more prospects through referrals and word-of-mouth marketing strategies.
Now that you have established your goals and opinion leaders, it’s time to determine the KPIs that will measure the success of your campaign.
- Looking to stand out on social media by boosting organic engagement?
- Measure Likes, comments, and shares
- Organic impressions via employee advocate accounts
- Want to increase visibility of a certain practice area?
- Measure link clicks and website visits by source.
- Looking to attract more prospects to your lead forms?
- If you have conversions established on Google Analytics, simply filter by source/medium and measure the number of goal completions.
You can also measure top contributors in your team and reward their efforts. Tangible incentives like gift cards or prizes for non-partners can make the program more appealing and encourage employees to continue taking part in the program. Additionally, consider giving recognition to lawyers in their business development plans for their employee advocacy contributions.
Tools and resources to measure the success your employee advocacy efforts
Regardless of the scale of your employee advocacy strategy, it is important to measure the results as you go to ensure its success. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started
- Create a company hashtag that allows you to track mentions across social media. This will help you determine which content is receiving more engagement and get a sense of the brand sentiment being portrayed.
- Consider setting up dedicated employee advocacy accounts to give lawyers and staff a place to share updates about life at the firm using your company hashtag.
- Implement the use of an employee advocacy platform, like FirstUp or Hootsuite Amplify.With these tools you can create custom dashboards that track how many hits your firm’s content gets and access a real-time feed of employee posts.This means that if someone is talking about your firm in the wild on social media, there will be a record of it in your dashboard.
- Add UTM parameters to social media posts with links to your website.UTM parameters are just short pieces of code that you can add to links — for example, the links you share in your social posts. They include useful KPIs that are categorized by data tracking platforms.
There are five different UTM parameters, the first three are required to track performance on Google Analytics:
- Campaign source: the referrer platform (e.g. google, LinkedIn, Instagram)
- Campaign medium: the marketing medium (e.g. reels, stories, promoted posts, organic social feeds)
- Campaign name: used to identify your marketing initiative
- Campaign term: track paid keywords or key phrases
- Campaign content. Use to differentiate ads or posts
Here’s a UTM example link with parameters in place:
- Track employee advocacy posts on LinkedIn
LinkedIn has a tool that allows you to filter content posted by your employees. Simply access your Page admin view, click the Analytics tab in the navigation bar and select Employee Analytics. Here you will be able to see insights on recommendations, shares and comments made by employees of your firm.
So, should your firm implement an employee advocacy strategy?
This depends on your goals and priorities. However, if you feel like your marketing efforts are dull and need to rework your approach towards more innovative campaigns, employee advocacy might be right for your firm. And, while this isn’t a new concept to a lot of companies, it is a very valuable resource in legal marketing that has immense potential. It is likely that your firm is employing highly skilled and knowledgeable lawyers who are already keen on sharing their practice on social media. Putting them at the forefront of your success strategy could be just what you need to stand out among the competition.