Employee Advocacy for Recruiting: The Complete Guide to Launching an Employee-Based Social Recruiting Program

Employee Advocacy for Recruiting: The Complete Guide to Launching an Employee-Based Social Recruiting Program

You’ve heard all about – hell, felt – the massive shift in the recruiting world. That’s why you’re reading a guide to employee advocacy for recruiting. But just in case, let’s recap: it’s no longer a viable option to recruit in a passive, transactional way. Post-and-pray is dead. Instead, talent – especially the best talent, the ones with options – expects a lot more from you before they take you seriously.

They want to get to know you, which they’ll do by checking you out on social media, consuming your career-related content, and reading the latest news on you. If they like what they see, they’ll keep you on their radar. Weeks and even months may pass until the time is right for them to apply.

Ultimately, today’s talent expects two things from you: transparency and authenticity.

In other words: open your doors to me and show me what you’re really about. Don’t give me the corporate line that your company is “innovative” and has a “work hard play hard” attitude. I want to know why your current employees joined you, what they like most about working for you (and what they like least), what project they’re working on right now, what the team that I’d be joining does for fun, what the hiring process involves, and how you’ll train me and challenge me.

Oh – and I don’t want to hear this from your recruiters or your marketing team or your CEO. They’ll just tell me what I want to hear.

I want to hear from your employees. Unscripted. Unrehearsed. Straight from the source.

I want to hear from your employees. Unscripted. Unrehearsed. Straight from the source. Click To Tweet

Enter: Employee Advocacy for Recruiting

Employee advocacy is the act of empowering your employees to build and share your company’s brand. In its most common form, it involves an internal administrative team curating content for “advocate” employees to consume and then share via their personal social media accounts. The content could be a recent article about the company, an interesting piece of 3rd party research on the company’s industry, a blog post highlighting an employee, or a video of a recent event at the office, to name a few examples. In its most advanced and powerful form, employee advocacy also involves employee-generated content (EGC) – content that’s been created by the advocate employees themselves. When it comes to recruiting content, EGC is the gold standard.

Applied to recruiting, employee advocacy can help you develop a world-class employer brand that reaches and resonates with even the hardest-to-find talent. A form of social recruiting, here’s why employee advocacy for recruiting is so powerful:

  • Credibility. Encouraging your employees to share what it’s like to work at your company shows talent that you’re unafraid of what your employees have to say. In turn, it’s that much easier for talent to trust your company. Besides, your employees are your most natural source of information for what it’s like to be an employee at your company. (Pretty logical, right?) As a result, employees (not CEOs) are your most trusted internal spokesperson:

2016 Edelman Trust Barometer

2016 Edelman Trust Barometer

Pro-Tip
You want to hit the sweet spot between “Employees” and “A person like yourself.” To do that, an employee advocacy for recruiting program should highlight employees who are in the same, or similar, positions as the ones for which the company is hiring. For example, if you’re hiring junior software developers, then focus on sharing what your current junior software developers have to say. Leave the executives and CEOs out of the equation.
  • Reach. Given that only a small fraction of their social media followers overlaps with your company’s followers, tapping into your employees’ networks can increase your reach by 10x. If you have hundreds or thousands of employees, that can be a recruiting game-changer. Especially when you consider that 83% of people trust the recommendations of friends and family, making it the most credible form of advertising. (For reference: less than half of people trust online ads).
  • Engagement & Productivity. Activating your employees as advocates not only strengthens your employer brand – your employees become more engaged in the process. And engaged employees are 2x as likely to be top performers.
  • Cost-Effectiveness. Your employees are already talking about you online – as many as 50% post messages, pictures, or videos on social media about you, while 39% have shared praise or positive comments online about you. Harnessing this organic, preexisting advocacy is much more powerful and cost-effective than continuing to rely on outdated and inefficient methods (think LinkedIn Recruiter, job postings, and recruiting agencies).

Are You a Good Fit for Employee Advocacy for Recruiting?

Employee advocacy for recruiting isn’t for everyone. The right environment needs to be in place for it to work. Here’s a quick checklist you can run through to get a sense for whether your company is ready for employee advocacy for recruiting:

Employee Advocacy for Recruiting: Are You a Good Fit?

If you agree with two or more of the points above, then your company likely isn’t ready to adopt employee advocacy.

If you agree with fewer than two, plus you agree with the shift in the recruiting landscape described in the beginning of this post and find the benefits compelling, then your company is likely a great candidate for implementing employee advocacy for recruiting.

The rest of this post is for you.

How to Launch Employee Advocacy for Recruiting at Your Company

What follows is a step-by-step guide for launching employee advocacy for recruiting. It’s a playbook that we’ve built based on our own experience helping companies launch employee advocacy programs, industry best practices, and specific case studies where advocacy programs have worked (and perhaps more importantly, where they haven’t).

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Attain Buy-In

1. Attain Buy-In | 2. Assemble Team | 3. Create Launch Plan | 4. Launch Phase 1: Pilot | 5. Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale | 6. Launch Phase 3: Full Scale | 7. Maintain Long-Term Success

Every successful employee advocacy program for recruiting begins with approval and buy-in from leadership.

But while “approval” and “buy-in” sound similar, they’re not the same thing.

Approval

Approval is a thumbs up on the program that does not necessarily mean leadership is genuinely invested in the program. Approval could be little more than the go-ahead to allocate budget toward your employee advocacy program. What happens after that is up to the team running the program.

Buy-In

Buy-in, on the other hand, not only implies that budget is approved, but that leadership:

  1. Understands and embraces how employee advocacy can help you transform your recruiting
  2. Will actively and visibly participate in ensuring the program’s success well after approval and launch

Identify Who Needs to Buy-In

If you’re the Director of Talent Acquisition or the Employer Branding Lead or the Head of Social Media, then you’re off to a great start. Chances are you’ll have direct oversight of the program.

But employee advocacy for recruiting requires coordination across multiple teams and departments, including internal communications, marketing, and HR.

Employee advocacy for recruiting requires coordination across multiple teams & departments. Click To Tweet

In addition to this coordination, we also recommend you attain the buy-in of a higher-level position like CMO, COO, and even CEO as your champion – a visible leader outside of HR who can serve as a vocal supporter. You’ll see how valuable a champion can be later in the guide.

Pro-Tip
A program that’s seen as primarily a talent acquisition or HR-related initiative alone won’t win you any points with employees. Get scrappy and attain the buy-in of the highest level member you can. It’ll send a message that the company is serious about the program. You’ll also be able to leverage this member for major announcements for your program, such as the initial launch.

Don’t move forward until you have this type of buy-in.

Curious how to make the case for someone to buy-in to your employee advocacy program? Stay tuned – we’ll cover all those details in a future blog post.

 

Step 2: Assemble Team

1. Attain Buy-In | 2. Assemble Team | 3. Create Launch Plan | 4. Launch Phase 1: Pilot | 5. Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale | 6. Launch Phase 3: Full Scale | 7. Maintain Long-Term Success

With approval and buy-in (and a vocal internal champion), you can begin to assemble the team that will be driving your program.

You also need a more tactical, operational team that will drive the program on a day-to-day basis. We’ll refer to this team as your “Core Team.” Here are the key characteristics to consider when you assemble your Core Team.

Size

Depending on program rollout and company size, team size should be between two and five people. We’ve seen programs with one person in charge, but that usually works when that person is focused nearly full-time on the advocacy program. Otherwise there is simply too much happening for one person to handle (as you’ll see below).

Structure

Someone like the Director of Talent Acquisition should oversee the program and the team driving it. But there also needs to be a day-to-day lead with time and ability to get their hands dirty on a daily basis. Given that the program’s ultimate aim is to bolster recruiting, this day-to-day lead is usually someone from the talent acquisition or employer branding team. The lead will be in charge of monitoring metrics and engagement activity with the program, as well as potentially executing on the activities that will drive what advocates do as part of the program.

Additional team members can include members of social media / marketing and others from talent acquisition, who can help with execution of advocacy activities on a daily basis. For instance, the social media expert on your team could handle curation of social media content, or conduct a regular analysis to see what types of content are performing best on social media.

Time Commitment

Naturally, your team members will be eager to know what their time commitment should be for the program. The day-to-day lead should expect to spend at least several hours a week on the program; the rest of the team, depending on their duties, can spend anywhere from one to 10 hours a week. However, it’s critical to note that these estimates are just that – estimates – and can vary significantly, particularly when a) setting up the program; b) launching the program; and c) scaling up the program with a broader set of employees.

Step 3: Create Launch Plan

1. Attain Buy-In | 2. Assemble Team | 3. Create Launch Plan | 4. Launch Phase 1: Pilot | 5. Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale | 6. Launch Phase 3: Full Scale | 7. Maintain Long-Term Success

With an enthusiastic internal champion and a Core Team to operate your employee advocacy for recruiting program, it’s time to create a launch plan. The launch plan should be created and agreed to by the Core Team, then shared with your champion and coordinating departments.

Your launch plan should cover the following areas:

A. Objectives

Of course, the objective of employee advocacy for recruiting is to significantly improve, even transform, your recruiting efforts.

But for the launch plan, go deeper than that. Identify the two to five goals that, if achieved in the next 12-24 months, would make the program a huge success.

Here are some examples of objectives that we’ve seen work well for employee advocacy for recruiting (these are illustrative – yours will likely differ):

  • Engage employees in sharing what it’s like to work here
  • Increase the reach of the company’s employer branding content
  • Promote the company’s Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Make it easier to fill hard-to-fill positions
  • Increase authenticity of recruiting content

As with the illustrative objectives above, your objectives should be clear, concise, and link back to recruiting.

B. Metrics

An objective is only as valuable as your ability to measure where you stand against it. So it’s critical that each objective you identify has a metric (or set of metrics) that you can track on an ongoing basis.

Above all, you should be able to track your metrics both before and after you launch employee advocacy for recruiting.

Track your metrics before AND after you launch employee advocacy for recruiting. Click To Tweet

Without this information, it’s impossible to tell if your employee advocacy for recruiting program is working – you won’t have a pre-program “baseline” against which to compare your program’s performance. It’ll be unclear if what you’re doing is helping or hurting your progress toward your objectives.

What should your metrics look like? This goes without saying, but they should first and foremost be measurable.  You should be able to extract measurements for them on an ongoing basis. Beyond that, because your metrics should tie back to your unique objectives, your metrics will likely be different than any other company’s metrics.

That being said, here are a few general metrics that can potentially tie back to a range of different objectives:

  • % of employees enrolled as advocates
  • % of advocates active in last 30 days
  • % of advocates completing a sharing action in last 30 days
  • Social media impressions for recruiting content
  • Social media engagement rate for recruiting content
  • Social media referral traffic to careers site
  • Time to hire (by role type)
  • Employee Net Promoter Score (how likely to recommend company as a workplace to others)
Pro-Tip
The metrics listed above are a starting point and aren’t exhaustive. You may have to identify your own metrics to ensure all your objectives are getting tracked.

Remember the sample objectives above? Let’s see which metrics could tie back to the objectives.  As you’ll see with the third and last objectives below, we had to develop a couple more “unique” metrics that weren’t in the illustrative list of metrics above.

Employee Advocacy for Recruiting: Objectives & Metrics

C. Rollout

It’s tempting to roll out employee advocacy for recruiting across the entire company on Day 1.

Resist the temptation.

Resist the temptation to roll out employee advocacy for recruiting across the entire company on Day 1. Click To Tweet

The reason is simple: your program hasn’t been tested yet within your company, so it’s difficult to know what is optimal for many of the components (e.g. training, communications, incentives) of your program. Every employee advocacy for recruiting program is unique in its own way.

Rather than roll out an untested program across the entire company, use a phased approach. You’ll be able to pilot your program on a small scale, collect feedback, adjust your program accordingly…and rinse and repeat. It’s easier to make adjustments to your program when it has only several dozen advocates, as opposed to when it has hundreds or thousands.

Here’s what a phased approach looks like:

Employee Advocacy for Recruiting - Phased Program Rollout

Pro-Tip
Still unsure whether a phased approach like the one above is necessary? We have yet to see a company successfully implement employee advocacy for recruiting without a phased approach.

D. Content

If your employees, or advocates, are at the heart of employee advocacy for recruiting, then content is the lifeblood. It’s what talent will “consume” to get to know you. Your program must get this part right.

Channels

Your recruiting content can live in many places. However, there are two channels that are a must:

  • Social Media. It’s by definition a channel that’s built for sharing content frequently. Therefore it’s ideal for increasing your reach and tapping into new audiences, especially because most of your employees are already part of at least one social network. And don’t get too hung up on trying to build a presence on all social media channels. It’s unrealistic and overwhelming. Instead, start with where you currently have a following and/or where your employees tend to congregate. To identify the latter simply run a quick survey with a portion of your employees and ask them which social networks they use the most.
  • Careers Page. Sure, your careers page lacks the “viral” component of social media. But it lets you get more in-depth with your content and build a more comprehensive, cohesive user experience for the person reading it. More importantly, nearly everyone who wants to explore you further will come across your careers page at one point or another, so consider it your homebase.
Pro-Tip
A good rule of thumb: pick the best performing content from social media and make sure it also lives on your careers page, either in its original form (e.g. the same employee spotlight image you shared on Twitter) or in an expanded format (e.g. an in-depth post about life at your company written by the employee you featured on Twitter).

There are many other channels (e.g. a culture blog, Best Place to Work Awards, events) that are optional. We encourage you to explore them. The two channels above, though, should come first.

Types

What types of content should you share on your various channels? Let’s start with a few guidelines:

  • Start with Your EVP. Your EVP already identifies the themes that make you a special place to work. Ensure your content highlights and reinforces these themes.
  • EGC Rules. Raw, unpolished, authentic content coming straight from employees (usually from their phones) is the ultimate type of recruiting content you can be sharing. Make it as easy as possible for employees to arm you with this type of content.
  • Visual, Visual, Visual. If possible, ensure most of your content has a visual element to it. Visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social and receives 94% more total views than non-visual content.
  • 3rd Party Content is Good. Think about your audience. You’re trying to reach talented people who are, presumably, curious about the business or industry you’re in. We encourage you to share content that keeps people in the know on the goings-on in your industry. Not only will you tap into the curiosity of top talent and be seen as a thoughtful company, you’ll also keep your employees in the loop and position them as industry-savvy subject matter experts.
  • Minimize Job Posting-Related Content. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) give you the option to automatically push your jobs to your social accounts. Turn this option off. Every company has similar job postings – this isn’t the way to differentiate your company.

Ultimately, the specific mix of content is up to you, and will likely evolve over time. Look at your metrics to see which types of content perform well for you. And adjust accordingly. Here’s what a sample content mix could look like:

Employee Advocacy for Recruiting - Program Content Mix

Experiment with different types of content, and find the mix that works best for you.

Frequency

Come up with a content calendar that works with your objectives and bandwidth. A post a week isn’t enough; 50 posts a week is probably too much. There are a few wrinkles here though:

  • You’ll publish social media posts much, much more often than you update your careers page.
  • Some social media networks, like Twitter, are higher velocity and lend themselves to more frequent posting than, say, Facebook.
  • You won’t – and shouldn’t – ask your advocates to reshare everything you share.

We suggest you post at least five posts a week on the company’s social media accounts, either on general accounts or career-specific accounts. Then we suggest amplifying via your advocates the posts that show high engagement rates – raw engagement numbers and impressions are less important here, as they don’t indicate the quality of content nearly as well as engagement rate does.

E. Incentives

Employee advocacy for recruiting should be opt-in. Avoid forcing employees to participate in a program that, by definition, requires a certain level of organic engagement and enthusiasm.

But you can and should incentivize the type of participation that makes for a successful program. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Beware the power of tangible incentives. While incentives like cash prizes and fancy gadgets go a long way in getting people to engage, they have a sneaky way of compromising your advocates’ underlying motivations. Instead of participating because they’re genuinely engaged, some advocates may now simply be eyeing your nice prizes. (In psychology this phenomenon is known as the overjustification effect: when external rewards decrease one’s intrinsic motivation to perform a task.) Besides undermining motivation, tangible incentives are also costly to maintain long-term.
  • Consider smaller, intangible incentives. Incentives like public recognition or time off work (ok, maybe that’s not entirely intangible – just less tangible) are less likely to undermine your advocates’ motivations. They’re also easy on your budget.
  • Friendly competition goes a long way. Incentives aren’t just prizes. Think about a monthly leaderboard of your most engaged advocates: the mere existence of the leaderboard will get the competitive juices flowing and encourage participation, regardless of the prize the “winners” get.
  • There’s no replacement for motivation. Incentives can only do so much. They’re not a substitute for natural enthusiasm. Put differently, incentives can serve as the fuel to the existing fire of participation – but they’re useless if the fire isn’t there to begin with.
  • Your technology should help. However you decide to incentivize your advocates, your tool should have at least some basic incentivization – usually in the form of gamification – built into the advocates’ user experience.

Incentives are a major subject on their own, so stay tuned for a future blog post where we go into more details on how to best incorporate incentives into employee advocacy for recruiting.

F. Naming

Your employee advocacy for recruiting program relies on the engagement and interest of your employees. Spark that interest with a catchy name for your program.

Pro-Tip
Besides just being catchy, an official name for your program reinforces that you’re serious about the program and that it’s here to stay.

And if you don’t already have a culture- or recruiting-related hashtag for social media, create one ASAP. For example, Dallas-based TSP uses #TSProckstars:

Employee Advocacy for Recruiting Hashtags

The #TSProckstars hashtag in action

Step 4: Launch Phase 1: Pilot

1. Attain Buy-In | 2. Assemble Team | 3. Create Launch Plan | 4. Launch Phase 1: Pilot | 5. Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale | 6. Launch Phase 3: Full Scale | 7. Maintain Long-Term Success

Congratulations! You’ve done all the prep work required to launch a successful employee advocacy for recruiting program. Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road and get Phase 1, your Pilot, off the ground.

Your objectives here are:

  • Test your initial approach for the program
  • Get actionable feedback
  • Demonstrate initial success for the program

Let’s get started. Naturally, we begin exactly where you’d expect employee advocacy for recruiting to begin: your advocates.

A. Identify Advocates

In this phase you’re looking for a few dozen employees to serve as your Pilot advocates. Your ideal Pilot advocate will be someone who already:

  • Is a highly engaged, active employee
  • Is active on social media
  • Talks about life at your company on social media
  • Captures and/or creates content depicting life at your company
Pro-Tip
The further down this list you can go when assessing someone, the more likely they will be to join and be a great advocate.

There are a few ways to identify these folks:

  1. Ask Your Core Team. They may already have people in mind.
  2. Scan Social Media. Who has posted something related to company culture in the last 90 days? Who’s using your culture hashtag if you have one?
  3. Ask Your Employees. A quick survey asking employees if they’d like to participate. Explain that you’re looking for people who want to help pilot a program that helps get your voice out about life at your company.

We strongly suggest you pull together Pilot advocates who have a high level of commonality. For instance, focus only on advocates from your marketing team in North America.

Why keep such a narrow focus? Because in the Pilot you’re interested in testing, getting feedback, and showing success quickly, rather than worrying about customizing your program for different departments in different locations. You’ll have plenty of time for that in subsequent phases.

B. Invite Advocates

Reach out to the potential advocates you’ve identified and let them know you’d like to join your Pilot phase. The only rule to follow here: make your outreach personalized. Your Pilot advocates should feel special that they get your invite, and not as if you’ve added work to their day job. A few tips for accomplishing this:

  • Medium. Send a personalized and separate email to each of your candidate advocates inviting them to participate in the company’s new employee advocacy for recruiting program.
  • Content. Keep the email short and sweet. The key points should be along the lines of:
    • Due to your influence and experience with social media and your high level of engagement at the company, you’ve been selected to help pilot an employee advocacy program that will transform how we recruit.
    • Your support is critical in getting the program off to a great start, showing the power of social media to the rest of the company, and above all, helping us gain the attention of top talent.
    • We’d like to invite you to an introductory session where we’ll cover all of the details surrounding the program and answer any questions you may have.
  • Sender. Remember earlier when we talked about finding an internal champion in the most senior position possible? It’s for times like this. Have this high-ranking champion send the personalized emails. It’ll immediately set the tone that the employee advocacy program is important and visible, rather than a small pet project.

C. Onboard Advocates

It’s up to you if you want to break up the following items across two sessions or keep them confined within one longer session, but as part of onboarding your advocates you’ll need to cover the following:

  • Key Program Components. This should be straightforward, because you’ve already developed the following points:
    • Objectives
    • Benefits
    • Timeline
Pro-Tip
When reviewing the benefits, go a step further and position the benefits from the advocates’ perspective, such as increasing internal presence, strengthening personal brand on social media, and taking a leadership role in a visible initiative.
  • Advocate Duties. Be clear about what you want your advocates to do. Of course, your Launch Plan will influence these duties, but you’ll likely include some combination of the following (list is illustrative):
    • Capturing photos and videos
    • Provide written, testimonial-style snippets on specific topics
    • Amplifying the company’s social media content
    • Posting to social media
    • Providing feedback on the program
    • Identifying and recruiting future advocates
Pro-Tip
Again, consider ending the session here to let the advocates think about what you’ve reviewed so far. Then with the advocates who would like to continue, conduct a second session to review the more detailed items below.
  • Technology. We highly recommend you explore and purchase software that’s designed to power employee advocacy for recruiting. (This is the business FirmPlay is in.) It’ll allow your Core Team to run the program without having to manually track everything using spreadsheets. The right tool will also ensure much higher engagement rates from your advocates by centralizing their activities and making it as easy as possible to share content. Whatever technology you use, take the time to walk your advocates through it. (Note: Most vendors will provide some type of training around this; make sure to ask.)
  • Best Practices. Your advocates have the basics, but to ensure success you’ll need to review a few more details – all of which you should already have outlined in your Launch Plan:
    • Consistent hashtag(s)
    • Cadence of posting
    • Types of content / mix of content
  • Social Media Guidelines. Finally, cover the social media guidelines or policies at your company. A word of caution here: for your program to succeed, your advocates should feel empowered, not restricted. Phrase your guidelines in a positive light. A good trick for achieving this is to focus on what your advocates should do, as opposed to what they shouldn’t. You’d be surprised how much of an impact this subtle shift in tone can have on your advocates’ enthusiasm.
Focus your social media guidelines on what your employee advocates should do, not what they shouldn't. Click To Tweet

D. Launch Pilot Program

You’ve put in a lot of thought and preparation to get to this point. You’re ready to launch!

Here’s your gameplan:

  • Complete Onboarding. Ensure your advocates are set up with your employee advocacy for recruiting technology. This is their homebase for the program. Make sure they feel comfortable.
  • Confirm Baseline Metrics. Remember how we said you need to have a baseline measurement for whichever metrics you’re tracking? Now’s the time to ensure that you have what you need, before you formally launch the Pilot and start gathering new data.
  • Initiate Advocate Activities. You identified a sharing cadence, content types, and more as part of your Launch Plan. Time to start executing on it. Ensure your Core Team is aligned on who is doing what (also something you identified in your Launch Plan)…and get started!
  • Answer Questions & Get Feedback. Remember the purpose of phasing your rollout – to learn little by little what works (and what doesn’t). It’s imperative you stay in close contact with your advocates after you launch. Over the course of the first 2-6 weeks, get your advocates’ feedback on:
    • Communications. Are your communications to advocates clear and sufficient in terms of frequency/volume?
    • Onboarding. How was the onboarding? Did it prepare the advocates to be successful and hit the ground running?
    • Technology. Any questions or feedback on the technology? Do your advocates feel like the technology is helping them be better advocates and execute their duties?
    • Advocate Duties. Are advocates being asked to do too much? Or are they eager to do more? Do they feel their contributions are moving the needle for the employee advocacy for recruiting program?
    • Advocates’ Networks. What, if anything, are your advocates hearing from their networks?
  • Setup Recurring Status Meetings. Put a standing check-in meeting on the calendar with the same approving leadership, coordinating departments, and champion who endorsed it. We recommend a monthly meeting, which should give you enough time to make progress between meetings, gather data, and diagnose and address challenges. You should be able to demonstrate progress on the metrics and objectives you identified before program launch.

E. Prepare for Phase 2

How do you know when you’re ready for the next phase?

Proceed to Phase 2 ONLY if you:

  1. Have actionable feedback from advocates. Without it, you could be repeating the same sub-optimal decisions across a larger program. Take the time to get detailed, thoughtful feedback from your Pilot advocates. We recommend sending a survey to your Pilot advocates, analyzing the results, and then conducting an in-person session to discuss their feedback. This two-pronged approach allows you to gather feedback that’s been unbiased by group-think, while also getting everyone in a setting where a richer discussion (and some problem solving) can take place.
  2. Can demonstrate progress on your metrics and objectives. The program is still small and in its infancy. But you should still be able to show progress on at least some of your metrics and objectives. If you can’t, then you need to diagnose what’s holding you back from making progress, adjust the program, and reassess in another month or two.

The level of confidence you have in your advocates’ feedback and progress on metrics/objectives – rather than an arbitrary length of time – is what should ultimately drive your decision on when to proceed to Phase 2. That being said, we typically see this phase last anywhere from at least two months to as long as 12 months.

Step 5: Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale

1. Attain Buy-In | 2. Assemble Team | 3. Create Launch Plan | 4. Launch Phase 1: Pilot | 5. Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale | 6. Launch Phase 3: Full Scale | 7. Maintain Long-Term Success

You’ve launched your Pilot phase. You’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and made changes to the program to address the latter. And you’ve shown progress on some of your metrics.

You’re now ready for the initial scale up of your program.

The objectives here are:

  • Implement and test the changes you’ve made to the program based on Pilot advocate feedback
  • Grow your program
  • Demonstrate success on a larger scale

Let’s get started. You’ll run through similar steps here as you did for the Pilot phase, so we’ll focus more on the differences here.

A. Identify & Invite Phase 2 Advocates

As in the Pilot, you’ll still want to scan social media to see which employees are talking about you. But that’s less likely to yield advocate candidates – you probably already caught your social media stars in the Pilot phase.

You’re more likely to have success with the following tactics instead:

  • Ask Your Advocates. You now have dozens of engaged advocates. There’s a good chance they’ve spoken to coworkers about the program. Ask your advocates who might make for a good advocate for Phase 2 – then personally invite those people via email. Again, a one-to-one email is much better here than a mass email. Personalization is always preferred wherever possible. And like in the Pilot phase, you’ll use a similar approach with this email: a concise note from your champion telling people they’ve been identified to participate in the program, with an introductory session coming up if they’re interested in learning more.
  • Ask Your Employees via A Company-Wide Announcement. It’s now time to publicize the program internally. Ask your champion to send an email out to your entire company announcing the formal launch of the employee advocacy for recruiting program. The key here is to reinforce that the program is opt-in and that there are a limited number of advocate spots open. Remember, this is an initial scale-up where you’re still testing the first round of improvements you’ve made to the program. You’re going to have hiccups and additional feedback, so you want to limit how many new advocates you add here. Finally, as with the one-to-one emails in the previous bullet, the aim here is to have people sign up for the introductory session.
Pro-Tip
How big should Phase 2 be? If your Pilot was dozens of people, you should aim for hundreds of people in this phase. Another way to look at it: Phase 2 should be anywhere from a 3x to 10x increase in number of advocates.

B. Onboard Advocates

As in the Pilot, you’ll be running through the same one- or two-part onboarding program with your advocates. The only difference in this phase is, of course, the scale. You’ll probably have to offer several more sessions to accommodate different schedules and ensure that everyone who wants to participate (and made the cutoff) can make a session. This is a good time to take advantage of your Core Team and divide and conquer these introductory sessions.

C. Launch Phase 2

The launch of Phase 2 will look almost identical to how you launched your Pilot. Again, given the similarities with the previous phase, we’re only emphasizing the differences for this phase:

  • Complete Onboarding. Unchanged from Phase 1.
  • Confirm Baseline Metrics. The difference in this phase is that your “baseline” is where your metrics stand right before you launch Phase 2. If you’re regularly tracking your metrics (which you definitely should be doing), then you’ll already have these numbers.
  • Initiate Advocate Activities. Unchanged from Phase 1.
  • Answer Questions & Get Feedback. Unchanged from Phase 1.
  • Setup Recurring Status Meetings. You already set up recurring meetings in your Pilot – keep them on the calendar.

D. Prepare for Phase 3

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, as with your Pilot you should not initiate the next phase until you:

  1. Have actionable feedback from advocates. Again, the entire reason you’re phasing your employee advocacy program is to keep things manageable, learn along the way, and keep improving the program for the next, bigger batch of advocates. That was important in your Pilot. It’s equally important in Phase 2. You should still consider sending out a formal survey for feedback, and still follow up with in-person sessions as much as possible.
  2. Can demonstrate progress on your metrics and objectives. If you’ve done things right to this point, it should be even easier in Phase 2 to show progress.

Again, the length of Phase 2 should be dictated in large part by when you complete all the launch activities listed above and satisfy the two requirements we just reviewed. But as a general rule of thumb, this phase typically lasts anywhere from six to 18 months.

Step 6: Launch Phase 3: Full Scale

1. Attain Buy-In | 2. Assemble Team | 3. Create Launch Plan | 4. Launch Phase 1: Pilot | 5. Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale | 6. Launch Phase 3: Full Scale | 7. Maintain Long-Term Success

You’ve successfully launched two phases of your employee advocacy for recruiting program. You’ve demonstrated success against your key objectives and the metrics you care about. And you’ve gained valuable feedback from the smaller, focused phases that’s allowed you to make improvements to the program along the way.

It’s clear that the program is here to stay.

You’re now ready to roll out company-wide.

The biggest difference in this phase is scale. Until now, the program has been contained and fairly manageable in terms of size. Going forward, however, you’re looking to take your advocate headcount from hundreds into the thousands. Whereas before the emphasis was on personalization and high-touch attention, you now have to implement scalable practices that enable you to manage a company-wide program.

A few important points:

  • Phase 3 is Your Call. You may not want to roll out your program company-wide. That’s ok. We’ve seen many programs that work perfectly well without being company-wide initiatives. That is, they stay fairly small (think dozens or hundreds of people) and invite-only.
  • Set Expectations. Even if you do move forward with Phase 3, don’t expect to onboard everyone. In the previous two phases, if an employee expressed interest there was a good chance they signed up and remained active. In Phase 3, however, you’ll probably see “only” 10-40% of the company’s employees sign on as advocates.
Pro-Tip
Remember, in Phases 1 and 2 you targeted the employees you thought would be most interested in employee advocacy for recruiting. Your Phase 3 advocates are less likely to have equally high levels of interest and motivation.

With that in mind, here’s the plan for Phase 3.

A. Identify & Invite Phase 3 Advocates

Here’s the good news: you don’t need to identify advocates here. All are welcome! You only need to worry about inviting.

To invite, go back to your champion (see how valuable they are!?) and ask them to send an email out to your entire company announcing the full, uncapped launch of the company’s opt-in employee advocacy for recruiting program. As with the invitation emails in the previous phases, the goal is to have people sign up for the introductory session.

B. Onboard Advocates

The introductory session in this phase will remain the same content-wise. However, the way you deliver it will probably differ. Due to the scale of the program now, you may need to forego in-person onboarding sessions and use conference calls or webinars. Ensure you leverage your Core Team and offer plenty of sessions.

C. Launch Phase 3

The gameplan for launching Phase 3 remains very similar to the plan for Phases 1 & 2.

  • Complete Onboarding. Unchanged from Phases 1 & 2.
  • Confirm Baseline Metrics. Your “baseline” here is a complete set of data from the end of Phase 2.
  • Initiate Advocate Activities. Unchanged from Phases 1 & 2.
  • Answer Questions & Get Feedback. Unchanged from Phases 1 & 2.
  • Setup Recurring Status Meetings. You already set up recurring meetings in Phase 1 – keep them on the calendar.

Step 7: Maintain Long-Term Success

1. Attain Buy-In | 2. Assemble Team | 3. Create Launch Plan | 4. Launch Phase 1: Pilot | 5. Launch Phase 2: Initial Scale | 6. Launch Phase 3: Full Scale | 7. Maintain Long-Term Success

You’ve successfully stood up an employee advocacy for recruiting program, from obtaining up-front approval to testing, refining, and scaling across the company. A huge congratulations!!

How do you ensure the success of your program for the long-term?

  • Feedback, Feedback, Feedback. It’s a big reason you were able to grow your program. Continue to check-in with advocates. Put every advocate who joins your program through a regular cadence of feedback/check-in opportunities. For instance, check-in with them 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year after they join. After that, ask them every 6 months. Your check-in can be as simple and “lightweight” as a basic Net Promoter Score (e.g. “How likely are you to recommend to a new coworker to join the program?”) and a comment. Or it can be as in-depth as a multi-question survey that asks about areas for improvement and new ideas to keep the program exciting. However you get your advocates’ feedback, always remember: you’re serving your advocates. Make sure to ask them how well you’re doing.
  • Never Stop Onboarding. Whether due to turnover or growth, you’re always hiring. Consider every new employee a potential member of your employee advocacy for recruiting program. Ninety days after someone joins your company, formally invite them to join the program. Not only will new blood help keep the program fresh, you’ll also be replacing advocates who may have left or gone inactive.
Consider every new employee a potential member of your employee advocacy for recruiting program. Click To Tweet

If you take the time to thoughtfully plan up front, then execute and scale up carefully, we’re confident that you’ll end up with the greatest recruiting weapon ever invented: an engaged set of employee advocates.

Advocates who are creating authentic, engaging content every day that showcases life at your company. Then helping you amplify that content through their own networks to influence hard-to-find talent that now knows the real you as a company…and considers you a top place to work.

 

Thinking about employee advocacy for recruiting at your company? FirmPlay’s software and white-glove customer success team can power your employee advocacy for recruiting program from planning, all the way to full-scale. Put differently: we help you do everything mentioned in the post above. Click here to learn more, request a demo, or just say hello.

Vasilios Alexiou

Co-Founder at FirmPlay
Vasilios is an entrepreneur and tech enthusiast interested in the intersection of employee advocacy, social media, and employer branding. He works with forward-thinking companies to turn their employees into passionate advocates for recruiting.