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Ambassadors of the Digital Age  – Why the City of Vantaa chose Employee Advocacy

Vantaaclock.jpg May 19, 2016 / Annika Rautakoura

The City of Vantaa’s primary Smarp program admins discuss their practices and plans for their Employee Advocacy program. Vantaa acts as a pioneer in digitalization, which works well with their goals for social media advocacy.


Vantaa, the fourth most populous city in Finland, is at the very start of its Employee Advocacy program, yet it is already planning its future. The city has been piloting Smarp for a month now. Marketing Producer at City of Vantaa Ulla Ruuskanen is the one who took initiative on getting started with the program, after she heard about its successful use by other instances, such as Paulig. 

Vantaa is very interested in what makes people react. The city deems human-to-human communications through the Employee Advocacy platform more credible in the eyes of the audience than messages from the management. “It is a studied fact: People believe their peers and make decisions based on their thoughts”, Ruuskanen affirms.


A Digital Channel for All

Ruuskanen highlights the importance of the program’s compatibility with the city’s digital image. Vantaa is investing heavily in advancing its digital processes. It is also the first municipality within the cloud, so to speak, with a focus on using cloud services. “In other words, we want to be independent of time and place",  says Ruuskanen. The city has, for example, introduced child health and debt councelling electronically. "This goes hand in hand with the fact that we do Employee Advocacy.”

The city’s Tourism Specialist Hanna Muoniovaara says that there was a great need for a common communications channel, with constant construction projects and digital development taking place at Vantaa. As a travel professional, she believes that travel matters should be brought forth more strongly.

Choosing Smarp was a crystal clear choice, upon acquaintance, as the platform is super easy and simple to use. The admins announce that gathering content from all branches improves communications, as it helps them to see all the things going on at Vantaa. The fact that other employees, besides communications people, get to suggest content is also important for them.


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Smarping it Out

Vantaa wanted to have all five of the city's branches represented among the 50 employee advocates participating in the program; not just communications professionals, and this goal was also realized. The advocates have been chosen on the basis of, for example, their digital savviness, but also their networks and other aspects have been factored in. Advocating largely depends on one's social media presence.

Ruuskanen points out that she can choose which content fits her own profile, and this is one of the platform’s strengths: the content shared can be deemed just right for each person. “And when we have different types of people and their networks, the messages spread even further, which is excellent.” There is also no uncertainty among its users, as to which content should be shared, as the admins approve everything beforehand. This means that even public officers can feel confident about the posts they share. 



Future Advocates

The city plans to expand the program to include a group of spokespeople as Vantaa resident advocates in the fall, if everything pans out well. Ruuskanen points out that social media advocacy remains in the top social media trends for this year. “It has sparked a lot of interest. I have already received positive feedback from a few C-level members, and this makes me very happy”.


Vantaa is a city and municipality in Finland, with a population of 215,813 (March 2016). The city is known for its geeky Finnish Science Center and aviation.

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