The Customer Benchmark Report on Employee Advocacy

The most comprehensive benchmarks on employee advocacy available. In this article, we show you the data behind building a world-class employee advocacy program.

Whether you’re launching employee advocacy for the first time or scaling it across the company, it can be a challenge to know whether you’re on the right track.

The Customer Benchmark Report on Employee Advocacy
The Customer Benchmark Report on Employee Advocacy

Sure, we all want high-performing metrics but what’s a good metric to measure for my industry? And the biggest question of all, how do I compare with companies just like us?

The Customer Benchmark Report for Employee Advocacy is a comprehensive resource on the state of employee advocacy. Does this report answer pressing questions like what’s a good metric to measure for my industry? And the biggest question of all, how do we compare with companies just like us?

We analyzed over 378,000 shares by employees across 100 customers in 14 different industries such as Financial Services, Computer Software, Retail Banking, Travel & Tourism, Management Consulting, Retail and more. That makes this the most significant set of benchmarks in employee advocacy.

By reading this report, you’ll learn:

  • Why employee advocacy doesn’t work without the right benchmark data.
  • A handful of strategies and tactics for improving adoption, social reach and social engagement.
  • A data-driven approach to launching a best-in-class employee advocacy program.
  • Benchmark data for multiple company segments, use cases and industries.
  • Proven strategies and tips that increase adoption, social reach, and social engagement.
  • What industries perform best with employee advocacy.
  • An inside look into what best-in-class looks like for employee advocacy.

Content Summary

Overview
Introduction
What Drives Engagement: The Key Metrics that Matter
Adoption
Shares
Reach
Engagement
PostBeyond Benchmark: Global Results
Earned Media Value
Content
Best Practices
Personalized posts
Best time of day to post
Gamification and incentives
Internal email newsletter
PostBeyond Influence IndexTM
Conclusion
Data Methodology

Overview

Over the past four years, PostBeyond has powered employee advocacy programs for a wide-reaching number of customers ranging from massive multi-nationals to smaller tech. With customers in 14 different industries constantly using our platform, we wanted to aggregate this data we use for our client quarterly benchmarking reviews and provide these insights to you, to compare against your program benchmarks. That’s how the PostBeyond Employee Advocacy Benchmark was born. Individual companies have deep analytics for their data but the missing link was how they compared with both their industry peers and organizations in general.

Social engagement presents a significant amount of data, from social media reach, likes, shares, comments, engagement to employee adoption, content update frequency and even content suggestions. One helpful way to understand your metrics is to simply see how you compare against others.

We took a careful approach to data preparation for this report. First, we ensured that all data was anonymized from industry and general perspective. Secondly, we focused on ensuring we had a representative sample of data collected throughout all of 2018 at various quarters (for any seasonality variances) that was statistically significant. Taking this approach meant we did not include all our available data as it was not required to draw conclusions or trends.

Introduction

The data scientists at PostBeyond have gathered key firmographic and product adoption data to produce our first PostBeyond Employee Advocacy Benchmark. Our data points included over:

  • 350,000 total shares
  • 125,000 pieces of content (both branded and 3rd party content)
  • 120 employee advocacy programs
  • 70,000 employees
  • 10 countries

These benchmarks will provide you and your company with:

  • Customer insights derived from real-life employee advocacy programs.
  • Benchmark data for multiple company segments.
  • Insights into what impacts employee advocacy and continuous engagement.
  • Proven strategies and tips that increase adoption, social reach, and social engagement.
  • An inside look into what best-in-class truly looks like for employee advocacy.

This report covers the core metrics and data amongst different companies that make up the PostBeyond Employee Advocacy Benchmark. In the end, we will provide proven strategies and tips on how to optimize your employee advocacy program and improve your metrics if you find yourself performing lower than your industry peers.

What Drives Engagement: The Key Metrics that Matter

Here are aggregated customer social share, total potential reach, engagement and adoption metrics across the sample taken in 2018.

  • 378,801 Shares
  • 209,203,882 Reach
  • 2,097,575 Interactions
  • 53% Adoption
  • 61.8/100 PostBeyond Influence IndexTM

At PostBeyond, these are the definitions we use to explain each specific metric:

  • Shares: means the number of shares users have made from the PostBeyond platform during the selected period into a specific social network. For example, if one person has shared with LinkedIn, Twitter and a Salesforce contact, the number of shares in the platform is equal to 3.
  • Reach: The total number of social connections of all users who have shared content in the given period sampled, multiplied by the number of times content has been shared.
  • Interaction: An interaction is when a follower, friend or connection in your team’s social media network interacts with content the team has shared. The interaction could be alike, favorite, share, retweet, reply, comment or click on a link.
  • Adoption: The total number of active users in the period compared to the total potential users (total of all enrolled).
  • PostBeyond Influence Index: A cumulative score within PostBeyond that measures all the value-added activities within the platform (sharing, active users, suggesting, posts created, email updates, earned media value, per-user stats, amount of personalization and branded articles) compared to other customers. This score is out of a score of 100.

When discussing what the top metrics are, our customers unanimously said that total reach, numbers of shares, content interactions and overall employee adoption were the top things to consider. With this in mind, in the next few pages, we’ll dive deeper into each metric to provide benchmarks.

Adoption

Adoption is the total number of active users in the period (those that shared) compared to the total number of users (based on employee enrollment in a program), measured monthly.

There are compelling use cases in sales, marketing and talent acquisition where achieving 75-100% adoption is expected. However, our recommendation is to avoid over-indexing with your program. Many companies look at their employee advocacy programs across their entire company and we recommend thinking in terms of 15-25% adoption in those cases. Convincing employees that they need to go all-in with employee advocacy is one thing, actually getting employees to adopt a new platform, tools, and behaviors is another.

We are creatures of habit. This is why adoption is a critical metric for our customers and any software product. Adoption can be a make or break challenge for many employee advocacy programs and it can result in misaligned expectations and ROI measurements.

With each new program launch, companies must be aware of all the factors that ensure a new implementation goes smoothly and is welcome by all. An initial checklist should include:

  • Securing executive buy-in. For certain departments, this is more straightforward. In the sales organization, expectations are that sales professionals use platforms such as CRM, PostBeyond and other solutions to drive and track customer engagement. For other groups there may be no specific mandate, so determining the engagement strategy is different.
  • Adoption strategy. As noted earlier, it is important to consider an overall rule of 15-25% of the overall employee group as a maximum initial metric to achieve. We would recommend segmenting sales & marketing and human resources into one cohort and the balance of the company in another when estimating the likely total number of sharers. This can guarantee that your employee advocacy initiative and its outcomes are well aligned.
    • Tip: While 15-25% may seem like a low target, consider that even at 20% the reach of your employees is likely 4-6x what your brand enjoys today. On a simplified basis, if a company of 1,000 people has a typical brand reach in social of 20,000 “followers” then 20% of your employees will on average have a reach of 90,000.
  • Clear measurement. We’ve seen many programs challenged due to the misalignment outlined in the adoption strategy and a poor determination of what success looks like. Throughout this report, you will find several key metrics that we believe set a foundation for success.
  • Employee training. While the use of social is a more natural tendency between the ages of 18-29 (88% use social) and 78% for those ages 30-49, many professionals still require training in the proper use of social. Whether it is an older demographic that has a limited social experience, or savvy social users that need to be aware of aspects of personalizing content (especially in regulated industries), training is essential.
  • Vendor support. Although this can be thought of as self-serving, the focus on advocacy within the organization is not a “set it and forget it” approach. Having expertise to supplement your team as they become experienced is critical. Importantly your vendor should be a consistent source of best practices and benchmarking.

In the chart below, we’ve ranked the top 10 industries that have the highest adoption levels from our sample. The top-ranked industries all follow best practices which have been listed at the end of this report.

Adoption by Top 10 Industries
Adoption by Top 10 Industries

Adoption by use case:

  • Thought Leadership: 54.65%
  • Social Selling: 54.42%
  • Talent Acquisition: 63.84%

Adoption by company size

  • SMB: 56.23%
  • Mid-Market: 36.60%
  • Enterprise: 61.02%

Shares

In this section, we looked at the number of shares as a barometer for success because customers believe this is a defining metric for employee advocacy. When we speak with our customers, one key message that resonates the most: shares matter.

While the use of an employee advocacy platform can boost company communication improving collaboration and a shared understanding of what is happening in the company, it is the influence component through sharing customers see the most value.

We’ve broken down the concept of Shares into the number of specific metrics:

  • Average shares by the company. Given the average size of companies in our sample, what are the total annualized shares by company size and industry over 12 months.
  • Content shared. This percentage focuses on whether the content shared is third-party versus branded content.
  • Shares by employees. What is the average number of shares performed by an individual over 12 months?
  • Desktop versus mobile sharing. What is the current trend towards employees’ use of desktop or mobile?
  • Social networks. The specific social network that individuals share content. This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

The goal of this section is to provide you with a better understanding of how employees are sharing content and how much content they are sharing to social media.

  • 378,801 Total Shares
  • 61.22 Shares Per Employee/Year
  • 3:1 Desktop: Mobile Sharing

Comparing shares by industry, use case and company size

Every company wants an answer to the same question about sharing metrics: “how do my employee shares compare with other companies in my industry?” Well, we’ve gathered the data you’re looking for. With over 100 companies in the PostBeyond Employee Advocacy Benchmark report, this has allowed us to gather metrics across 14 separate industries and different size companies: SMB, mid-market and enterprise companies and in three different use cases.

All this data means you can compare your employee advocacy performance against other companies in a similar industry or size.

Here are the definitions of the three major use cases for our customers:

  • Thought Leadership: Thought Leadership is distributing interesting, news-worthy and innovative content that customers would not have likely discovered on their own. Thought leadership provides new ideas, perspectives, and data that teach and shift your audience from their status quo. This content often comes from a trusted source and can create a dedicated following or audience who are interested in action on new ideas.
  • Social Selling: the process of building, nurturing and engaging potential customers on social media before buying your product or service. It encompasses finding the right people, sharing relevant content, building relationships directly with potential customers and personal branding.
  • Talent Acquisition: is a strategy used to attract potential candidates using social media and personal networks.

We also differentiate company size by the number of employees within a company:

  • 0-499 SMB
  • 500-4,999 Mid Market
  • 5,000 Enterprise

Below are the total number of shares per industry:

Shares by Top 10 Industries
Shares by Top 10 Industries

Shares by use case

  • Thought Leadership: 248,407
  • Social Selling: 82,906
  • Talent Acquisition: 28,010

Shares by company size

  • SMB: 47,077
  • Mid-Market: 124,690
  • Enterprise: 207,034

Reach

Reach is defined as the total number of social connections of all users who have shared content in the given period multiplied by the number of times content has been shared. We looked at the total potential reach by industry, and employee as well as a comparison between different social networks.

The table below illustrates the average reach by the social network for each employee. When we work with our customers to determine total reach, we tend to take a more conservative view of each employee’s “personal” reach. While the chart below is accurate, it is skewed by the fact that it measures individuals active on social. To balance what happens within your organization we apply a target of 430 connections per employee in an advocacy program which takes into account those that are less active or currently inactive on most social networks (so they will take time to scale up their social connections).

Another key consideration is whether your company’s focus is B2B or B2C. In B2B organizations (Technology, Industrial, Professional Services), sharing is more concentrated within LinkedIn, Twitter and 1-to-1 in platforms such as a CRM. In organizations reaching the end consumer (Travel and Tourism, Financial Services, Insurance) there is a greater emphasis on Facebook.

Average reach by social network per employee

  • 459 Connections in LinkedIn
  • 433 Friends on Facebook
  • 772 Followers on Twitter

The chart below outlines

Total Brand Reach per Industry
Total Brand Reach per Industry

Top three industries that have the largest brand reach:

  • Financial Services
  • Consulting
  • Staffing & Recruiting

Engagement

Engagement is defined as a follower, friend or connection in your social media network who engages with the content you’ve shared. The engagement could be alike, favorite, share, retweet, reply, comment or click on your shared link.

Industry and average engagement
Industry and average engagement

In the Best Practices for Employee Advocacy section, we’ll share actionable tips on how to increase engagement per post. One important tip is to personalize your content for your social connections as a best practice to generate higher engagement per post. From our customer data, we’ve found that Posts that are personalized generate 64% more engagement than posts that aren’t.

This includes writing a personalized caption message for each piece of content being shared. Inclusion of relevant industry-related keywords or hashtags is included within the personalization component.

PostBeyond Benchmark: Global Results

Here is an overview of the metrics our customers care about most for employee advocacy. Each chart includes a summarization of the top five industries for each specific metric.

Adoption Rate
Adoption Rate
Average Reach
Average Reach
Average Shares per Month
Average Shares per Month
Average Engagement
Average Engagement
Shares per Employee
Shares per Employee

Earned Media Value

What is earned media value? Earned media value (EMV) is the cumulative value that shared content has generated boiled down to a dollar amount. Simply put, earned media value is synonymous with brand exposure such as mentions, reposts, shares, and reviews.

Earned media is important because it is unpaid exposure for your brand in contrast to paid media. It is a form of word-of-mouth and shows just how many people are talking about your brand without any paid advertisements to generate the same brand buzz.

Within PostBeyond, earned media value is measured using data about:

  • An average number for CPE (cost per engagement) for paid social for each social network.
  • An average number for CPM (cost per impression) for paid social for each social network.
  • An average number for CPC (cost per click) for paid social for each social network.

Many customers measure Earned Media Value (EMV) as a leading indicator of ROI. It is also a supportive metric for their paid social media campaigns to benchmark how much they could have spent (or saved) through employee advocacy.

Average EMV
Average EMV

Content

Branded content such as blog articles, webinars, whitepapers and more make up 26.75% of content libraries; top-performing programs have a high percentage of content that is unbranded. This is because the content is industry-relevant such as thought leadership articles, research reports, major publications or also company-mentioned content as well.

  • 15.86% Content Suggested By Employees
  • 99.75% Content In Platform That’s Shared At Least Once
  • 26.75% % of Content That’s Branded
  • 0.25% Content That Is Unshared

On average, 15.86% of the content is sourced from employee suggestions; one program in Legal Services had over 90% of their content come from suggestions. Surprisingly we found that 99.75% of the content added to a platform had been shared at least once by an end-user; 0.25% of the content is unshared. It was outstanding to see that almost all of the content program managers created have been shared at least once. It speaks to the content relevance for employees to create the desired sharing behavior.

Best Practices

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the above metrics, you can better gauge your employee advocacy program and compare it with others in your industry, use case and company size. Once you understand where you currently sit with your metrics, the next step is to optimize performance and ensure your rank continuously climbs higher.

With that in mind, here are the best practices which tackle areas in which you can improve.

Personalized posts

Personalizing your content for your social connections is a best practice to generate higher engagement per post. Based on analyzing the content that was shared by customers, we can see the difference personalizing the social caption makes for a piece of content.

Posts that are personalized generate 64% more engagement, 7.9 vs 4.8 more interactions per post.

Best time of day to post

(The data below is an aggregate for all timezone by using the timezone users have selected in their settings.)

The best times to share or queue content are 7 am and 2 pm. This is an aggregate time across all the time zones and days. Definitively, these two times are the best performing for engagement regardless of the day. This was followed up by:

Two times are the best performing for engagement regardless of the day
Two times are the best performing for engagement regardless of the day

Gamification and incentives

Gamification is a proven method for increasing employee participation. It also encourages users who are not that active to log-in and share content to win an incentive. For companies with a large sales team on the program, having a leaderboard is a great way to promote friendly competition.

Diversify the contests you run to include themes such as Most Improved User, Most Engaged User, User Driving Most Traffic to the Website, Winner gets picked from Top 5 users on the leaderboard, etc.

Customer Example: One customer, a fast-growing technology company based in Boston, Mass. started a contest six months after their initial program launch to reengage users.

During the contest, active users spiked to almost launch levels at contest period inception (86%). As a result, the contest generated:

  • The highest number of users sharing ever
  • The highest number of shares ever
  • The highest number of interactions ever

Internal email newsletter

We’ve seen significant increases in user activity whenever an email update goes out in every other program. It’s a great way to remind users that new content has been added to the platform, and as a result, increase adoption.

Start by sending Email Updates weekly and based on the feedback you get from end-users, you can either increase or decrease your cadence. There are some programs where end-users have asked for daily Email Updates, whereas some programs prefer a monthly update.

Customer Example:
When an Email Update is sent, it is the highest number of active users and users sharing for the week or month, depending on the frequency it is sent.

One customer experimented with Email Updates for a couple of months, and we consistently saw the highest number of active users and users sharing on the day of the week that these emails were sent out to users.

One global management consulting firm sends emails weekly to inform their end-users of new content and update them on any competitions they are holding. These weekly Email Updates have a strong correlation (correlation coefficient greater than 0.7) with weekly active users, weekly users sharing, and the total number of shares weekly.

PostBeyond Influence IndexTM

The PostBeyond Influence IndexTM is a cumulative score that measures all the value-added activities within the platform (sharing, active users, suggesting, posts created, email updates, earned media value, per-user stats, amount of personalization and branded articles) compared to other customers. This score is out of a score of 100. Below is a visualization of how the PostBeyond Influence IndexTM is displayed.

Influence Index Score
Influence Index Score
Influence Index Score: The Influence Score (IIS) measures admin and end-user activity and the overall impact on performance.
Influence Index Score: The Influence Score (IIS) measures admin and end-user activity and the overall impact on performance.

Conclusion

After reviewing the metrics above, you will gain a better understanding of the quality of your employee advocacy performance compared to other relevant companies based on industry, use case and company size.

As you begin to benchmark where your company stands, the goal is to better understand, measure and optimize your employee advocacy efforts. Once you have a grasp of all the important metrics, you can now focus on different areas you can improve.

Data Methodology

For this report, we pulled the data for a sample of 100 companies from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.

We defined branded content based on posts that were uploaded to their content library with the customer’s branded domains.

When measuring personalization, we compared the caption that was created by program managers or content creators for end-users with what was then shared out by the end-users; captions that were different were classified as having been personalized.

When looking at interactions per share for posts shared out by end-users, we excluded posts that generated more than 200 interactions for one share, as the number from these shares may have been caused by external outliers.

Source: PostBeyond