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How To Create a LinkedIn Employee Advocacy Program



How To Create a LinkedIn Employee Advocacy Program

People buy from people, not companies. That’s why your brand’s employee advocacy on LinkedIn can be a powerful and effective form of marketing.

The benefits are many for your brand as well as individual employees. Their LinkedIn advocacy can:

  • Help build their personal brands.
  • Drive traffic to your company’s LinkedIn page and website.
  • Establish them as subject matter experts.
  • Lead to invitations for guest appearances on podcasts, LinkedIn Live streams, and other events.
  • Capture customers at the top of the funnel.
  • Drive deals down the pipeline.
  • Win and close deals.

An employee advocacy program on @LinkedIn can be a powerful and effective form of marketing, says Emily Brady of @SweetFishMedia via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

With all those positive outcomes, an employee advocacy program on LinkedIn makes sense for most brands targeting a business-focused audience. Now comes the harder part – organizing the program.

How to structure an employee advocacy program on LinkedIn

Step 1: Get leadership on board

Employee advocacy on LinkedIn is a long play. Secure executive buy-in by encouraging them to do it first-hand. Ask or help them post consistently on LinkedIn for at least 60 days. If they can grow their following, connections, and engagement, they might see the value in implementing an employee advocacy program companywide.

Secure executive support first. Ask them to post for 60 days and see the growth in followers, connections, and engagement, says Emily Brady of @SweetFishMedia via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet


Step 2: Choose a channel champion

You’re going to need someone to oversee this operation. You can hire a social media specialist or assign it to someone on the content marketing team well versed in LinkedIn.

The channel champion creates the strategy and owns the results of the program. Among their possible responsibilities:

  • Onboarding employees through one-on-one personal branding meetings
  • Working with each evangelist to document their personal brand strategy detailing their content pillars
  • Creating written and video training resources to teach employees posting and engagement strategies on LinkedIn
  • Curating an archive of company content categorized by job function
  • Leading monthly training workshops

Every employee advocacy program needs a champion who develops the strategy and helps members implement their own plans, says Emily Brady of @SweetFishMedia via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Step 3: Document program requirements

Outlining the expectations of employees, in the beginning, can help them make an educated decision on whether they should or can participate. Then, when they sign up for the program, they know the commitment.

The requirements for an employee advocacy program on LinkedIn might look like this:

  • Be active for at least one quarter.
  • Post three to five times a week.
  • Engage with people who comment on the post.
  • Actively engage with others on LinkedIn.
  • Agree to promote curated company content.

At this stage, you also should document the do’s and don’ts — the guidelines outlining what is acceptable to post, what is inappropriate to post, and what are the best practices.

Step 4: Onboard employees

The channel champion should invite employees who opted into the program to an onboarding meeting. That conversation should help define their content topics, personal brand, positioning, and LinkedIn workflow. Often, people are overwhelmed at the possibilities and appreciate having someone facilitate the process to help identify their content pillars.

How to motivate employees to post on LinkedIn

Just signing up and having a one-on-one meeting isn’t enough to motivate your employee advocates to start posting and stay involved. They may lack the confidence and/or the capacity to execute. To help, consider these tips:

1. Identify their why

People need internal motivation. “Because it’s good for the company” usually is not a sufficient motivator for a person. By learning their personal reasons for joining the advocacy program, you can better identify the corresponding benefits, such as:

  • Increased awareness of their existence and expertise
  • Recognition as a go-to expert in the industry
  • Participation in a community of thought leaders with whom they can learn and collaborate
  • Portfolio of the content they create

2. Educate them about the benefits for their employer

While helping the company may not be their only motivator, it makes sense that they want their employer to succeed. Share how the company could benefit by detailing how it can increase brand awareness, shorten the sales cycle, and increase talent attraction and retention.

NOTE: This tip intentionally comes after personal motivation. Companies usually struggle to get participation on LinkedIn because they make it about the business, not the employees.

3. Check in frequently

Dedicate a Slack channel or another communication tool in your company just for the employee advocates. Invite them to share their posts, questions, and wins.

Share analytics weekly to show which posts resonate and which might benefit from improvements.

Once a month, have a one-on-one check-in meeting with advocates who may be struggling.

4. Provide assistance resources

When you share videos, articles, or training sessions about how to create good content, employees are more likely to get active on the platform.

In the onboarding, incorporate internal training videos and documents on personal branding and LinkedIn best practices.

Every week, share editorial calendar prompts, curated content, or educational LinkedIn posts in your work dashboard.

Every month, schedule a LinkedIn training workshop, a live brainstorm session, and/or one-on-one meetings to go over their content strategies.

5. Celebrate

A sense of belonging is a huge factor in a successful employee advocacy program. Celebrating wins reinforces that camaraderie. Commend employees individually and highlight their results on your internal communication channel. You also can praise them on LinkedIn.

How to measure success

Success can be difficult to measure. You can look at their profile views, connections, and following. If those numbers are rising, their personal brand is growing – and likely impacting the company’s brand, too.

Also, encourage employees to share things like direct messages and replies, invitations to guest on podcasts, virtual events, etc., and reshares and mentions. You could set up a tracker to record them if you want to compare and contrast with others in the program.

You also can assess individual posts to better understand if they’re having an impact on thought leadership. For example, a post with a large number of comments indicates the employee is giving valuable insight into creating and engaging in meaningful conversations. If the reshare number is high, your employees are saying something that resonates with or helps someone.

You can use a tool like HubSpot to attribute deals won or closed to LinkedIn activity though it’s a lagging indicator.

How others are doing it

Here are a few B2B companies that do employee advocacy really well:

Chili Piper’s company social profiles have seen impressive growth in recent years thanks to their employee social advocacy enablement.

How do they do it? They encourage employees to post about whatever they want. They created a #Chili-Love Slack channel to help amplify each other’s posts, and they do periodic “social takeovers” to promote new content, product launches, company news, and more.

Gong used LinkedIn employee advocacy to grow eight times in a little over two years. They post consistently and focus on providing valuable content over securing marketing-qualified leads.

How do they do it? Gong hires outstanding talent who want to post, their C-suite leads by example, and their social media team makes it easy with internal comms and writing prompts.

Chris Walker and his Refine Labs team of employees are known for the value-added content each provides via their personal accounts on LinkedIn.

How do they do it? All Refine Labs teammates go through a LinkedIn Accelerator training during onboarding. Chris hosts office hours where he helps people dial in their personal strategies. They host competitions around experimenting with new channels like LinkedIn or TikTok and give prizes and awards people actually want.

Here are some other brands sharing details about their employee advocacy programs: Angelpoint, Dreamdata, and our team at Sweet Fish Media.

Get the benefits of employee advocacy

One of, if not the most, efficient and cost-effective ways for companies to build their brands and drive revenue growth is through employee advocacy on social media. Why? Your employees are individuals who are more likely to earn trust and gain credibility from your audience in a way that a brand name never could.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to share, please add it in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?



How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?

The very first commercial advertisement was shown on TV in 1941. It was only 10 seconds long and had an audience of 4,000 people. However, it became a strong trigger for rapid advertising development. The second half of the 20th century is known as the golden age of advertising until the Internet came to the forefront and entirely transformed the advertising landscape. The first commercial banner appeared in the mid-90s, then it was followed by pop-ups, pay-by-placement and paid-pay-click ads. Companies also started advertising their brands and adding their business logo designs, which contributes to consumer trust and trustworthiness.

The rise of social media in the mid-2000s opened a new dimension for advertising content to be integrated. The marketers were forced to make the ads less intrusive and more organic to attract younger users. This is how native advertising was born. This approach remains a perfect medium for goods and services promotion. Let’s see why and how native ads can become a win-win strategy for your business.

What is native advertising?

When it comes to digital marketing, every marketer talks about native advertising. What is the difference between traditional and native ones? You will not miss basic ads as they are typically promotional and gimmicky, while native advertising naturally blends into the content. The primary purpose of native ads is to create content that resonates with audience expectations and encourages users to perceive it seamlessly and harmoniously.

Simply put, native advertising is a paid media ad that organically aligns with the visual and operational features of the media format in which it appears. The concept is quite straightforward: while people just look through banner ads, they genuinely engage with native ads and read them. You may find a lot of native ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – they appear in the form of “in-feed” posts that engage users in search for more stories, opinions, goods and services. This unobtrusive approach turns native ads into a powerful booster for any brand.

How does native advertising benefit your business?

An average Internet user comes across around 10,000 ads a day. But even physically, it is impossible to perceive this amount of information in 24 hours. So, most of them use adblockers, nullifying all efforts of markers. Native ads successfully overcome this digital challenge thanks to their authenticity. And this is not the only advantage of native advertising. How else does your business benefit? Here are just a few major benefits that prove the value of native ads:

Better brand awareness. Native ads contribute to the brand’s visibility. They seamlessly blend into educational, emotional, and visual types of content that can easily become viral. While promotional content typically receives limited shares, users readily share valuable or entertaining content. Consequently, while you incur expenses only for the display of native ads, your audience may go the extra mile by sharing your content and organically promoting your brand or SaaS product at no additional cost.

Increased click-through rates. Native ads can generate a thrilling click-through rate (CTR) primarily because they are meticulously content-adaptable. Thus, native ads become an integral part of the user’s journey without disrupting their browsing experience. Regardless of whether your native advertising campaign is designed to build an audience or drive specific actions, compelling content will always entice users to click through.

Cost-efficient campaign performance. Native advertising proves to be cheaper compared to a traditional ad format. It mainly stems from a higher CTR. Thanks to precise targeting and less customer resistance, native ads allow to bring down cost-per-click.

Native ads are continuously evolving, enabling marketers to experiment with different formats and use them for successful multi-channel campaigns and global reach.

Types of native advertising

Any content can become native advertising as there are no strict format restrictions. For example, it can be an article rating the best fitness applications, an equipment review, or a post by an influencer on a microblog. The same refers to the channels – native ads can be placed on regular websites and social media feeds. Still, some forms tend to be most frequently used.

  • In-feed ads. This type of ad appears within the content feed. You have definitely seen such posts on Facebook and Instagram or such videos on TikTok. They look like regular content but are tagged with an advertising label. The user sees these native ads when scrolling the feed on social media platforms.
  • Paid search ads. These are native ads that are displayed on the top and bottom of the search engine results page. They always match user’s queries and aim to capture their attention at the moment of a particular search and generate leads and conversions. This type of ad is effective for big search platforms with substantial traffic.
  • Recommendation widgets. These come in the form of either texts or images and can be found at the end of the page or on a website’s sidebar. Widgets offer related or intriguing content from either the same publisher or similar sources. This type of native ads is great for retargeting campaigns.
  • Sponsored content. This is one of the most popular types of native advertising. Within this format, an advertiser sponsors the creation of an article or content that aligns with the interests and values of the platform’s audience. They can be marked as “sponsored” or “recommended” to help users differentiate them from organic content.
  • Influencer Advertising. In this case, advertisers partner with popular bloggers or celebrities to gain the attention and trust of the audience. Influencers integrate a product, service, or event into their content or create custom content that matches their style and topic.

Each of these formats can bring stunning results if your native ads are relevant and provide value to users. Use a creative automation platform like Creatopy to design effective ads for your business.

How to create a workable native ad?

Consider these 5 steps for creating a successful native advertising campaign:

  • Define your target audienceUsers will always ignore all ads that are not relevant to them. Unwanted ads are frustrating and can even harm your brand. If you run a store for pets, make sure your ads show content that will be interesting for pet owners. Otherwise, the whole campaign will be undermined. Regular market research and data analysis will help you refine your audience and its demographics.
  • Set your goals. Each advertising campaign should have a clear-cut objective. Without well-defined goals, it is a waste of money. It is a must to know what you want to achieve – introduce your brand, boost sales or increase your audience.
  • Select the proper channels. Now, you need to determine how you will reach out to your customers. Consider displaying ads on social media platforms, targeting search engine result pages (SERPs), distributing paid articles, or utilizing in-ad units on different websites. You may even be able to get creative and use email or SMS in a less salesy and more “native”-feeling way—you can find samples of texts online to help give you ideas. Exploring demand side platforms (DSP) can also bring good results.
  • Offer compelling content. Do not underestimate the quality of the content for your native ads. Besides being expertly written, it must ideally match the style and language of the chosen channel,whether you’re promoting professional headshots, pet products, or anything else. The main distinctive feature of native advertising is that it should fit naturally within the natural content.
  • Track your campaign. After the launch of native ads, it is crucial to monitor the progress, evaluating the costs spent and results. Use tools that help you gain insights beyond standard KPIs like CTR and CPC. You should get engagement metrics, customer data, campaign data, and third-party activity data for further campaign management.

Key takeaway

Summing up the above, it is time to embrace native advertising if you haven’t done it yet. Native ads seamlessly blend with organic content across various platforms, yielding superior engagement and conversion rates compared to traditional display ads. Marketers are allocating higher budgets to native ads because this format proves to be more and more effective – content that adds value can successfully deal with ad fatigue. Native advertising is experiencing a surge in popularity, and it is to reach its peak. So, do not miss a chance to grow your business with the power of native ads.or you can do digital marketing course from Digital Vidya.

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OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons



OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons

A week or so ago, the extraordinary drama happening at OpenAI filled news feeds.

No need to get into all the saga’s details, as every publication seems to have covered it. We’re just waiting for someone to put together a video montage scored to the Game of Thrones music.

But as Sam Altman takes back the reigns of the company he helped to found, the existing board begins to disintegrate before your very eyes, and everyone agrees something spooked everybody, a question arises: Should you care?

Does OpenAI’s drama have any demonstrable implications for marketers integrating generative AI into their marketing strategies?

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain (and give a shoutout to Sutton’s pants rage on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), or keep reading his thoughts:

For those who spent last week figuring out what to put on your holiday table and missed every AI headline, here’s a brief version of what happened. OpenAI – the huge startup and creator of ChatGPT – went through dramatic events. Its board fired the mercurial CEO Sam Altman. Then, the 38-year-old entrepreneur accepted a job at Microsoft but returned to OpenAI a day later.

We won’t give a hot take on what it means for the startup world, board governance, or the tension between AI safety and Silicon Valley capitalism. Rather, we see some interesting things for marketers to put into perspective about how AI should fit into your overall content and marketing plans in the new year.

Robert highlights two takeaways from the OpenAI debacle – a drama that has yet to reach its final chapter: 1. The right structure and governance matters, and 2. Big platforms don’t become antifragile just because they’re big.

Let’s have Robert explain.

The right structure and governance matters

OpenAI’s structure may be key to the drama. OpenAI has a bizarre corporate governance framework. The board of directors controls a nonprofit called OpenAI. That nonprofit created a capped for-profit subsidiary – OpenAI GP LLC. The majority owner of that for-profit is OpenAI Global LLC, another for-profit company. The nonprofit works for the benefit of the world with a for-profit arm.

That seems like an earnest approach, given AI tech’s big and disruptive power. But it provides so many weird governance issues, including that the nonprofit board, which controls everything, has no duty to maximize profit. What could go wrong?

That’s why marketers should know more about the organizations behind the generative AI tools they use or are considering.

First, know your providers of generative AI software and services are all exploring the topics of governance and safety. Microsoft, Google, Anthropic, and others won’t have their internal debates erupt in public fireworks. Still, governance and management of safety over profits remains a big topic for them. You should be aware of how they approach those topics as you license solutions from them.

Second, recognize the productive use of generative AI is a content strategy and governance challenge, not a technology challenge. If you don’t solve the governance and cross-functional uses of the generative AI platforms you buy, you will run into big problems with its cross-functional, cross-siloed use. 

Big platforms do not become antifragile just because they’re big

Nicholas Taleb wrote a wonderful book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. It explores how an antifragile structure doesn’t just withstand a shock; it actually improves because of a disruption or shock. It doesn’t just survive a big disruptive event; it gets stronger because of it.

It’s hard to imagine a company the size and scale of OpenAI could self-correct or even disappear tomorrow. But it can and does happen. And unfortunately, too many businesses build their strategies on that rented land.

In OpenAI’s recent case, the for-profit software won the day. But make no bones about that victory; the event wasn’t good for the company. If it bounces back, it won’t be stronger because of the debacle.

With that win on the for-profit side, hundreds, if not thousands, of generative AI startups breathed an audible sigh of relief. But a few moments later, they screamed “pivot” (in their best imitation of Ross from Friends instructing Chandler and Rachel to move a couch.)

They now realize the fragility of their software because it relies on OpenAI’s existence or willingness to provide the software. Imagine what could have happened if the OpenAI board had won their fight and, in the name of safety, simply killed any paid access to the API or the ability to build business models on top of it.

The last two weeks have done nothing to clear the already muddy waters encountered by companies and their plans to integrate generative AI solutions. Going forward, though, think about the issues when acquiring new generative AI software. Ask about how the vendor’s infrastructure is housed and identify the risks involved. And, if OpenAI expands its enterprise capabilities, consider the implications. What extra features will the off-the-shelf solutions provide? Do you need them? Will OpenAI become the Microsoft Office of your AI infrastructure?

Why you should care

With the voluminous media coverage of Open AI’s drama, you likely will see pushback on generative AI. In my social feeds, many marketers say they’re tired of the corporate soap opera that is irrelevant to their work.

They are half right. What Sam said and how Ilya responded, heart emojis, and how much the Twitch guy got for three days of work are fodder for the Netflix series sure to emerge. (Robert’s money is on Michael Cera starring.)

They’re wrong about its relevance to marketing. They must be experiencing attentional bias – paying more attention to some elements of the big event and ignoring others. OpenAI’s struggle is entertaining, no doubt. You’re glued to the drama. But understanding what happened with the events directly relates to your ability to manage similar ones successfully. That’s the part you need to get right.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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