Employee Advocacy Catches Fire at Autodesk

Employee Advocacy Catches Fire at Autodesk


Whether it’s your favorite movie, your mode of transportation, or your child’s favorite toy, chances are it was designed using Autodesk software. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk has become a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. If you’re one of the millions of designers, makers, hobbyists, or students that use our products, it’s a big part of what you do. In recent years, we’ve expanded our offerings, moved into the cloud, and now help millions of consumers in a variety of industries like Architecture, Manufacturing, Media & Entertainment, Education, and Sustainability.

How does a 33-year-old technology company bring the brand to life through the content and stories built with our technology?

With so many customers using our portfolio of more than 170 products, it’s easy to imagine there are a lot of great stories to tell, using all the traditional marketing channels. But we wanted to find a new way to tell our story and reach new audiences. To do so, we looked no further than within to cultivate a community of employees as brand advocates. Our employees have always been proud about the work of our customers, and we simply needed to find a way to make it easy for them to share that passion. Thus, Bonfire was born.

Launched in May 2014, Bonfire, Autodesk’s first-ever formalized Employee Advocacy program, had one simple, initial goal: To enable employees to drive greater awareness for the company, and help them better understand how the company was evolving.

Autodesk Employee Advocacy

With endorsement from senior leadership, Bonfire started with a small pilot group of employees in North America. Success led to opening the program globally and our CEO encouraging the entire company to ‘get social,’ calling out the program as an easy entry point. Within its first year, Bonfire activated 15% of Autodesk’s global workforce. The results spoke for themselves and Bonfire truly spread.

Year One Results:

  • 1,400+ active users in 34 countries and 6 languages
  • Over 2,100 unique pieces of content published
  • 153,000+ shares of content
  • An average user session of 3-10 mins consuming an average of 6 pieces of content
  • Average content virality of 68%
  • Additional earned impression volume of 21 million outside of users direct networks

We’ve been overwhelmed by the success of Bonfire, and feel it really reflects our culture and the enthusiasm our employees have for their work and where we’re headed as a company. The benefits to our employees have been invaluable. They are now:

  • Better connected to our brand
  • Aware of what content they can/should share on social media
  • More established on social media, having grown their followers/connections
  • Driving more sales via social selling tactics
  • Building their personal brands
  • Making an impact and a difference regardless of their role

“Bonfire is my bridge to the content chasm. Now I can easily find Autodesk content and share it to my social media networks with ease. This saves tremendous amounts of time.” ~ Con Nicholas, Marketing and Social Media @ Autodesk

Our employees are asked to interact with many tools to get the information they need. Our curated approach ensures we deliver interesting, diverse, and engaging content, and has truly been our point of differentiation. To drive adoption and retention, we hold a quarterly contest tied to a specific business initiative. Rather than bragging rights, we reward employees with unique experiences. We awarded one winner with a trip to join the 3DRV tour teaching kids to 3D print and fly drones. Another participant got a trip to the Smithsonian to archive exhibits using Autodesk’s reality capture technology. These are experiences like no other and have connected our employees to the brand, the business, and driven greater awareness externally.

“The great thing about Bonfire is it gives you the material to be informative, and allows you to schedule the output so you can have a very active presence on social media by just using the tool a few times a week.” ~ Gavin McDermott, Sales Manager at Autodesk

As Bonfire closes out its second full year, we have a lot of new ideas to keep it fresh and relevant. We’re targeting 3,000 employees, adding new languages, dialing up our social selling efforts, and using the platform for internal communications, just to name a few. Recently, Fortune Magazine named Autodesk one of the Top 25 Global Best Companies, and cited our Employee Advocacy program as a key differentiator. Our employees have gone above and beyond to make Bonfire an important part of our strategy, and it’s been great to see Bonfire become an established part of an Autodesker’s day.

Post Author

Julie Hayes

As Sr. Brand Communications Manager Julie Hayes leads employee and brand advocacy for Autodesk, a maker of 3D design software and consumer applications. Taking an inside-out approach, Julie has trained employees and agencies on the Autodesk story worldwide, and led communications for the company’s recent rebrand. As Autodesk begins a new paradigm in customer engagement, and recognizing the best advocates are sitting in the cube right next to you, Julie has launched Autodesk’s online employee advocacy program, activating 15% of the employee base in its first year, while expanding to its 2500 Channel Partners.