Employee Advocacy is the New Power Engine for Social Responsibility Goals

June 21, 2014
Author: by Eric Roach

By now the world is recognizing the power employee advocacy can give to corporations. Recent data compiled by our company, EveryoneSocial.com, gives a glimpse at what any organization’s base of employees, provided with proper training and an automated platform for sharing, can do.

A base of 1250 employees can generate:

  • Increased brand reach of 1.1 million individuals for content shared,
  • An annual increase of 25 million authentic impressions
  • A savings of $515,000 in recruiting expenses
  • $1.2 million in earned media advertising value, and
  • A 19% increase in revenue growth.

These results are all achievable within a traditional for-profit organization. But imagine even further what employee advocacy could allow philanthropic and social responsibility organizations to do.

As a case in point, consider the United Way. The United Way message is an urgent and uplifting one. The social media messages it sends are far more valuable than simple brand impressions: they are an invitation to the world to engage. The opportunity to help share the news of United Way on social media gives participants a chance to achieve more good and to make an even greater difference beyond the ways they can contribute to worthy projects and initiatives with their funds.

Here’s what United Way of Salt Lake’s Jerilyn Stowe, VP of Marketing and Communications, said about her organization’s experience with employee advocacy so far:

“We learned about the platform we use, EveryoneSocial, when we were about to launch a grassroots advocacy campaign focused on passing a specific piece of legislation--The Utah School Readiness Initiative, HB 96. As part of our plan, we knew we needed to spread awareness about the importance of high-quality preschool for at-risk children in our community and to share details about the bill.

We decided to implement a multi-channel marketing campaign and needed a tool like ES to help us manage our social media reach. We implemented it in full-force. We uploaded a list of Advocates (those outside our organization that we identified as our most engaged supporters) and we gave our internal staff full access to the dashboard as well. 

We started our campaign in early January. It was a multi-channel effort that included emails, phone calls and one-on-one meetings with legislators.

One of the important criteria was that we needed people to take specific action at specific times (such as when the bill was in the Education Committee, or was being heard on the House or Senate floor, etc.) We also needed people to come to the Capitol and participate in direct lobbying with us. At those times we flooded our content stream with videos, blog posts, news articles, fact sheets, and everything we could create and gather that related to high-quality preschool and HB96. We also incentivized our staff with contests and prizes to encourage them to share content at key times. 

The result was fantastic! It was fun to see the content shares and click-throughs spike on the critical days we needed supporters to take action. We would put up an Action Alert, for example, urging supporters to email their legislators with direct links to our advocacy tools that allowed people to email legislators directly from the link. Not only did we pass the bill, we matched our opposing organization who is bigger, much more organized and has many more supporters email for email, letter for letter, and call for call. 

I truly believe our success occurred because we had social media "muscle" at our disposal that those opposing the bill did not. I remember that we had more than 50,000 shares on one particular post. The reach we achieved was unbelievable. There was nothing we could have done on our own that could have matched what we achieved by making it simple for people to share the content we created. 

We now use our employee advocacy platform to help us manage news, blogs, content, etc. Our staff loves these tools and the process of social media sharing has become a part of what they do within their jobs every day. 

 Based on this experience with our Advocacy campaigns, we will now expand our use of this concept for advertising campaigns, fundraising efforts as well. We can see the potential of this concept and I can see we’ve just begun understanding how powerful this kind of a platform can be.

On the whole, United Way of Salt Lake is focused on creating lasting social change in our communities. We know that we cannot do it alone. Our effort takes collaboration with cities, schools, churches, other nonprofits, and donors and volunteers, but it also takes all of us working more collectively together. We want our community—people here in Salt Lake to see themselves in our work and know that as a member of this community, we need everyone to be engaged, not just on the sidelines watching. 

Employee Advocacy (in our case, expanded to include our community advocates as well) helps us meet people where they are. People are sharing content and connecting online. We can use these tools to be a part of those conversations, to make the issues, the work, and the solutions real to people and invite people to help. As an organization that needs people to take action and donate, advocate, and volunteer, social media sharing is a fabulous resource to not just inform people, but to mobilize their efforts. This was proven thoroughly in our advocacy campaign for HB96. Social media – and specifically, the amplification we were able to achieve through a social media platform and an employee advocacy program, allowed us to mobilize our staff and our thousands of advocates to act in unison on behalf of a significant cause.

Clearly, the power of social media is an even greater power where social responsibility work is involved. When it comes to amplifying the impact of social media, the full power of Employee Advocacy as technology has only begun.

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Jerilyn Stowe
Vice President of Marketing & Communication
jerilyn@uw.org 801.736.7709