Why your credit union needs an employee social advocacy program

There are new tools that have recently been available to your credit union that can help make your social media 150% more engagement-worthy, and 60% more trusted. Taking advantage of these tools just requires a little more trust of your team.

The current state of social engagement

Like nearly every other organization out there, credit unions have felt the digital marketing crunch of 2020. On social media, the explosion of content means that the algorithms are working overtime to sort what they think will get the most engagement. Recently industry benchmarks show that the financial services sector gets just .07% average engagement on Facebook (sports teams more than double that at .18%). Instagram is a bit higher at .85%, meaning that for every 1,000 followers or page likes you have, between 7 and 9 people are likely to engage with what you post — and likely less if you never pay for a post. It’s a challenging wall that’s going to continue to get higher to climb.

Employees are your best cheerleaders

You spend a lot of time and energy to interview, hire, train, and retain great employees. In all likelihood, your employees are part of what makes being a member of your credit union truly special, and you’ll probably never find people as excited to share the credit union message.

Online or off, we tend to trust other people more than we’ll ever trust organizations. Research bears this out, too. Online, users are 150% more likely to engage with an employee’s post about an organization than they are a post from the organization itself, and 60% more likely to trust what the employee has to say.

Even with these facts, though, the vast majority of credit unions restrict or severely limit how their employees represent themselves online. This misses the opportunity to harness the extraordinary power of employee advocacy. Implementing a basic employee advocacy program can help break through the social engagement wall while creating value for your credit union, your employees, and your bottom line.

Build foundations for employee advocacy

An employee advocacy problem doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to have a good foundation. In the end, the last thing you want is to launch or re-invest in an employee advocacy program with a social media policy that says your employees shouldn’t talk about their work at all.

For credit unions, that foundation includes:

  • A clear policy about personal representation online (About 60% of employers still don’t have one, according to research from 2020).
  • A policy about social media use at work (50% of employees report there is no clear policy at their workplace).
  • Guidelines for what your credit union’s voice online should look and sound like.

When it comes to online representation and social media use policies, it’s important to work with Compliance, HR, and Legal departments.

In July of 2018, the National Labor Relations board issued guidance on these policies, outlining what’s “presumptively illegal” (such as policies against making disparaging remarks about your employer), and what takes “increased scrutiny,” such as regulating the use of an employer’s name.

Start and end with trust

Asking your employees to share about your credit union using their personal social media accounts is, above all, an act of trust. You’re trusting your employees to share authentically and make your content a part of their personal life. Your employees are trusting you to not make them look silly for doing just that.

Build your program with that trust in mind, from the bottom up. Start by identifying the employees in your CU who already use social media and are enthusiastic about your brand and message. Involve them in planning – a step that the Edelman Trust Barometer found that 73% of employees would want to be involved in anyway. These social champions are your core group to test out ideas and build a system that works for your specific CU.

And as a sign of that trust, don’t require social media shares from your employees. Forced posts will lack enthusiasm, could easily backfire, and destroys the trust that you want to build.

Share with employees first

While there are numerous programs, consultancies, and companies out there that are willing to help you build a social promoter program, you don’t need to launch big or have a budget to get started.

It’s as simple as sharing with your employees first. At one credit union I’ve worked with, their employee advocacy program was simply including information about what employees could share on their social media in the weekly internal communications newsletter. At other organizations, a Teams or Slack channel dedicated to your social champions can be effective.

Build on what already works for your employees, identify what challenges or opportunities may need to be addressed, and use that knowledge to go into any contracts or RFPs, should you decide to invest in a tool.

Many social networks are also recognizing the value of employee advocacy. LinkedIn recently moved content suggestions from their Elevate platform into a tool available to all company pages.

A step by step guide

So, ready to start thinking about an employee social advocacy program? Here’s your checklist of how to get started:

  1. Confirm you have social media policies that allow for the program.
  2. Identify your internal social champions.
  3. Work with those champions to build a social advocacy program built on trust.
  4. Provid your employees with consistent content that they will be proud to share.
  5. Thank and celebrate the employees that do choose to share your content.

However you decide to go about it, an employee social advocacy program is a great way to extend reach and break through the digital marketing slog of 2020.

Andrea Parrish

Andrea Parrish

With over 20 years of communications and digital media experience, Andrea Parrish has lived in many worlds. She's been a successful Kickstarter-funded small business owner, speaker on hundreds of conference ... Web: andreaparrish.com/tinytall-consulting Details