Employee Advocacy in a Regulated Industry

Employee Advocacy in a Regulated Industry


The next big thing in social media is employee advocacy. Brands are constantly evolving and trying to figure out ways to better communicate to their consumers, get their messaging in front of qualified audiences and improve the perception of their brand. Tactics of optimizing posts and rethinking strategies is a constant, but necessary evil, that seems to change month-over-month. Activating your own employees can be one of the best strategies you can put into place.

Employees that work for your company can be among the most authentic voices to discuss your brand online. They are passionate about your goals, they are on board with your values, and they work to accomplish your goals. They are engaged with your customers and they understand what needs to be said and how to say it. Why not engage them to advocate for you? Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.

At Humana, we needed to figure out a way to amplify our Bold Goal:

“The communities we serve will be 20% healthier by 2020 because we make it easy for people to achieve their best health.”

In our healthcare industry, we have a unique challenge to meet compliance regulations while also needing to amplify our brand, build trust with our consumers and stay within FTC regulations. Activating employees creates a level of risk for our industry because of the level of federal, state and local scrutiny. We also needed to consider our content that was being distributed to be shared. We decided to focus on health and well-being content that didn’t drive to buy or use our products and services. To meet all of the industry requirements, we knew early on that we needed to introduce required training in order for employees to be allowed into our program.

[bctt tweet=”Next big thing in #socialmedia? #employeeadvocacy, says @jasonwspencer of @Humana”]

We began planning for our employee advocacy program at the end of 2014 to be rolled out mid- 2015. Our first step was to define the objectives of our program, figure out how we were going to measure against them and then select a vendor who would support us while also giving us the best ROI for our spend.

In choosing a vendor and platform, we had a few priority requirements:

  1. Easy To Use
  2. Mobile-First
  3. Content Appearance

We required a fully functional test drive of the platform as a user and admin to get a sense of the experience. After evaluating numerous vendors, we chose Dynamic Signal to support us, not only from a technical aspect, but because of the excellent service they provided during the selection process.

Next was to develop our strategy for an employee advocacy enterprise roll out. Our objective was to utilize employees as enthusiastic advocates, promoting Humana’s enterprise goal and dream of helping our members achieve lifelong well-being. We defined benefits for the organization of increasing our organic channel and engagement growth, supporting our social ROI and developing employee talent. We also identified benefits to the employees of increasing their knowledge and use of social media, increasing their peer influence on related topics, and creating a greater sense of community among advocates.

Humana Employee Advocates

Once the strategy was defined we had a 2-month pilot to learn how our employees would engage in the program. We chose a group of 70 employees for the pilot. They included power users from our Enterprise Social Network (ESN), influencers within their business area, and employees who were influencers outside our organization on social media. They represented a cross-section of functional areas of the business. During the pilot, we learned from this group what types of content were shared most, how much they engaged with the platform and how well their followers reacted to the content. When the pilot ended, we sent a survey soliciting feedback to learn and better scale the program to the enterprise.

[bctt tweet=”.@Humana chose @Dynamic_Signal for #employeeadvocacy for technology & excellent service via @jasonwspencer”]

Now that we have been up and running to the enterprise since the beginning of August, our next phase will be to diversify the content that we push, to better represent our collective brand. In our company, we have employees with different interests who also live in different markets and we want to give them a personalized content. We now implement content managers that work with me, who are responsible for curating and distributing content, relevant to a targeted group of employees. Depending on the group, we can serve relevant content which will increase shares and reactions from their followers.

One lesson learned from creating our employee advocacy program is to measure everything. I pull weekly metrics to look at overall participation as well for ways to reinforce our content strategy, reacting to what gets shared the most and the least. We also look for ways to keep our employees engaged and remain active over time to continue the success of the program. In the short time our program has existed it is already accounting for about 8% of all social media brand mentions.

To start an employee advocacy program of your own, we recommend these steps:

  1. Define your objectives up front
  2. Create a strategy around how to be successful
  3. Choose a platform that supports your goals
  4. Start small and then scale up
  5. Look for ways to continue to improve your program while also keeping your employees engaged.

Post Author

Jason Spencer

Jason Spencer is a Social Media Community Manager at Humana, a Fortune 100 company headquartered in Louisville, KY. He currently leads Humana’s Employee Advocacy program as well as the Social Customer Care Strategy. While understanding the consumer’s voice and trending topics in the social space, Jason is able to lead a program to activate employees to advocate for the company, help drive brand lift and increase positive brand sentiment. In his career, he has gained experience in Digital Strategy, Social Media Marketing and Customer Service.