When you search for the definition of employee advocacy, it’s commonly described as the promotion of an organization by its staff members. It makes sense but covers only a fraction of the value that advocacy brings to your business. A well-oiled employee advocacy program can drive business performance in many different functions, including human resources, employer branding, employee communications, marketing, and sales.
With such a diverse impact, it’s fair to say that there are no two employee advocacy programs that look the same. For some, employee advocacy is the way to establish a presence on social media and save on advertisement; some need to boost website traffic & SEO ranking, some leverage advocacy for social selling or talent acquisition. Some use it for employer branding and reputation management.
With such a variety of use cases and a spectrum of needs, no wonder that there are dozens of employee advocacy tools in all shapes and sizes available on the market. How to make sense in this array of employee advocacy platforms and find the vendor that meets YOUR needs the best? — If you ever asked yourself this question, then you are in the right place.
📖Related read: Employee Advocacy Software: How to Choose the Best Solution
Whether you’re new to employee advocacy or a seasoned veteran, this article will give you some useful insights on the advocacy trends and challenges. After reading it, you’ll be able to navigate the complex space of employee advocacy providers with more confidence. We also share practical advice on choosing and implementing the right employee advocacy software for your organization from companies like Salesforce, Swarovski, KPMG, and Jabra.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it! 🚀
Employee Advocacy Software Landscape [Infographic]
One of the reasons behind the rise of employee advocacy in recent years is a re-evaluation of trust. We got to realize that people trust people, not brands or ads. 83% of people trust recommendations from somebody they know, making employee advocacy your most trustworthy channel, more reliable than any other form of marketing. At what cost? We'll come to that later in this article.
📺 Watch on-demand: 5 Lessons From Managing Billion Dollar Employee Advocacy Programs
Even though the employee advocacy tech space is relatively new and continuously evolving, it has some quality solutions to offer. This post will focus on the five arguably most advanced advocacy solutions on the market right now. But before that, let’s have a look at what the current landscape of employee advocacy technology looks like. 👇
Social Media Management Tools with Advocacy Features
Employee advocacy, in one form or another, has been around ages before social media. Happy employees never needed an extra invite to promote their organization. But the rise of social media inevitably made advocacy scalable and thus much more organized and impactful. Naturally, a number of social media management (SMM) platforms out there offer advocacy features to complement their original functionality. The likes of Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Oktopost, Social Horsepower, and LinkedIn Elevate (now LinkedIn Pages) all offer employee advocacy features or extensions.
If you are already using one of these platforms for your business and looking into starting an employee advocacy program, this could be your shortest path to do it. However, the shortest path doesn’t always mean the right one. These advocacy extensions might be right for someone looking to boost their social media metrics and diversify their audience. But if you plan to build a long-term program that's going to scale and support your evolving needs, these tools’ functionality may fall short of your expectations.
I don’t want to generalize (and I trust you’ll do your research anyway), but the case of LinkedIn Elevate sunsetting illustrates that for this category of providers, employee advocacy will always be a ‘good add-on’ rather than the main objective. Their product development and customer service revolve mainly around social media curation, not employee advocacy.
If you share this sentiment, if advocacy is just a good-to-have addition to your social media marketing kit, not a strategic initiative, this is probably the group of vendors to consider.
Employee Advocacy 1.0 Platforms
Social media management platforms clearly couldn’t satisfy users that wanted to build more complex advocacy programs. Dedicated employee advocacy solutions came in to fill this gap. Platforms like PostBeyond, DSMN8, GaggleAMP, and Ambassify fall into this category. They offer a wider range of advocacy features compared to SMM-tools.
With gamification features or instant sharing to various social platforms, employee advocacy platforms in this category optimize the sharing experience for employees. Admins using these tools can easily distribute their content and track its external performance with analytics dashboards.
While these tools are usually well received by the people running advocacy campaigns, the end-users - the employees - often get overwhelmed by the sharing requests and get demotivated fast. The result is bad user adoption and low employee engagement — this is where employee advocacy programs go to die. Advocacy expert Rob Lee defines this as ‘Employee Advocacy 1.0’ — efficient in the short-term, but too employer-centered thus risky in the long-term.
💡 Related article: Top 13 Employee Experience (EX) Tips You Can Try Right Now
The employee advocacy 1.0 solutions are more advanced compared to SMM tools but they are still limited in some areas. Whether it’s content distribution, scalability, targeting and segmentation, integration, reporting capabilities or admin roles, every vendor has its strong and weak sides. Your task is to identify those strengths and weaknesses and align them with your employee advocacy plan before you make a buying decision. Make sure to pay special attention to the employee experience that the advocacy platform is providing. Remember that your employees are the ultimate factor in your advocacy program’s success.
Employee Advocacy 2.0 Platforms
Employee advocacy 1.0 and 2.0 — what's the difference? 🤔 At first sight, the software solutions in those two categories look similar and could as well be placed under one big bracket of 'employee advocacy vendors'. However, based on the product features and user feedback, there are 3 reasons why it's necessary to separate these two categories. So why do platforms like Smarp, Dynamic Signal, and Sociabble fall under the Employee Advocacy 2.0 category?
1. Employee-centered model. The advocacy 2.0 platforms position themselves as landing pads where employees can find relevant information, engage with it, post their own content (employee-generated content), and share it. This engaging model brings additional value to employees. As a result — better adoption and more natural, proactive employee advocacy.
Not only is this model much better perceived by the end-users - your employees - but it also helps to mitigate the top-three challenges companies face when they run EA programs. So as an admin, I need a platform that could help me effectively tackle those challenges, not magnify them. 👇
2. Ability to reach every employee where they already are. According to Altimeter research, adoption is one of the top 3 challenges for organizations running employee advocacy programs. If you ever kicked off an employee advocacy program, high chances are that you had to deal with low adoption. Why? Because your employees already have so many tools! Slack, Sharepoint, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, Yammer — you name it.
Employee advocacy 2.0 solutions help their users streamline the adoption process. They offer a variety of integrations that allow you to deliver targeted and pre-approved content to various channels that employees already use every day. Integrations with HR systems, file hosting services, and business intelligence tools will also consolidate your existing tech stack and keep the data safe and tidy. Your CIO will love to see that!
On top of that, employee advocacy 2.0 providers position themselves as strategic partners rather than just technology providers. Their customer success teams will guide you every step of the way: from strategic planning, scoping, implementation, launch to continuous growth of your employee advocacy program.
3. Scalability. When we talk about the ability to reach every employee, you may ask: but what if I have my small group of 10-20 active brand ambassadors and I don’t want to bother other people? If you are comfortable with this scope of your program then most likely the advocacy 2.0 solutions are not the right fit for you.
Being able to enroll 1000+ employees in an advocacy program doesn’t mean blasting them all with the same generic content. Advanced internal audience segmentation and targeting features of employee advocacy 2.0 solutions are designed to help larger organizations have full control over their employee advocacy programs.
For example, Smarp allows you to delegate content curation and management to the people who know it best, your subject matter experts. You can assign people to manage content on a topic, unit, or location level, all while having centralized global platform management. Think global, act local.
There is another strong reason why you shouldn’t limit your advocacy program only to a small group of employees. Kredible Employee Advocacy Study found that employee advocacy programs that involve at least 1,000 active members can generate $1,900,000 in advertising value. And these numbers make total sense if you consider that social media content from your employees reach 561% further than official company channels and receives 8x more engagement, according to Social Media Today.
Employee advocacy can deliver the same exposure as paid advertising but at a fraction of the cost. People trust people — not ads. But in order to make it work, the right employees need to receive the right content at the right time. The Advocacy 2.0 platforms are designed precisely for that.
Employee advocacy 2.0 is not for everyone. It requires dedication and strategic planning. But if you want to build a scalable advocacy program with advanced targeting and analytics that empowers your employees to become true brand ambassadors, then you should probably review platforms like Smarp, Dynamic Signal, and Sociabble. Let’s take a closer look at them in the top 7 employee advocacy platforms list below.
Top 7 Employee Advocacy Platforms
What is the best employee advocacy platform? The aim of this list is not to rank software from better to worse. Perhaps every vendor on this list would claim that they are the best employee advocacy solution. 🤷♂️ The reality is that there is no ultimate one-size-fits-all employee advocacy platform. But most certainly, there is the one that fits your business. Hopefully, this list can help you find the perfect match.
Disclaimer: In this list, I review seven employee advocacy tools representing three software sub-categories covered above: Smarp, Dynamic Signal, and Sociabble (Employee Advocacy 2.0 platforms); GaggleAMP and PostBeyond (Employee Advocacy 1.0 platforms); Hootsuite Amplify and Bambu by Sprout Social (Social Media Management Tools with Advocacy Features). In order to make this review as transparent and unbiased as possible, it is based on customer feedback. I went on G2, the world's leading peer-to-peer software review website, to see how customers rank the most popular employee advocacy platforms they use every day. Keep in mind that G2 is continuously updated with new reviews, so data used here (as of February 2021) can change by the time you read this.
Smarp vs. Dynamic Signal vs. Sociabble
Employee Advocacy 2.0 platforms compared
To kick off this list, let's take a closer look at the three arguably most advanced and well-established employee advocacy providers on the market: Smarp, Dynamic Signal, and Sociabble. All three vendors approach employee advocacy in a holistic way by focusing on employee experience and engagement. Serving some of the biggest companies across the globe, these advocacy platforms have a solid track of product improvement and customer satisfaction. Talking about customers, let's see how they rank each of these employee advocacy platforms. 👇
The table above shows how the advocacy 2.0 vendors perform in a number of key areas. These figures are based on verified customer reviews of Smarp, Dynamic Signal, and Sociabble on the G2 platform. G2 is the go-to place for millions of software users to rate the tools they use every day. Let's take a closer look at each of these key performance indicators. 👀
All three vendors have impressive client portfolios featuring global corporations. Enterprise companies have extremely high demands when it comes to product performance, its features, integrations, compliance and security. All three Advocacy 2.0 providers have high ratings in this category, with Smarp ranked at 8.9, Sociabble at 8.6, and Dynamic Signal at 8.7.
Smarp works with enterprise giants like Salesforce, Amazon, and Swarovski, to name a few. They all have rigorous vendor selection processes in place. Smarp's 350+ customers across the spectrum of industries are a testimonial to the maturity of the platform and its proven ability to exceed the needs of multinational corporations with thousands of employees.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is absolutely vital for employee advocacy tools. It determines user adoption, engagement, and ultimately, the success of your advocacy program. Friendly user experience can be a game-changer, especially if you have a multi-national and multi-generational workforce. Attention to user experience is one of the main differentiating factors that set apart platforms like Smarp, Dynamic Signal, and Sociabble from Advocacy 1.0 solutions.
When it comes to usability, Smarp is ranked the highest — 9.5, with Sociabble (9.2) and Dynamic Signal (8.7) slightly behind. Smarp takes user experience very seriously, continually improving the platform, and end-users surely appreciate it:
"Smarp is easy to use, even if you are not digitally savvy. Creating a post, sharing, checking statistics – everything runs smoothly, and the whole process is just so simple and well organized. The ability to subscribe to channels is great so that you are only getting the relevant content delivered to you and if you want to share sth, it just takes a few clicks."
Dennis E, Enterprise (> 1000 employees)
What the future of employee advocacy looks like? Watch this video to find out. 📺
Ease of Setup & Ease of Admin
If you are reading this blog post, the chances are that you are responsible for the roll-out of an employee advocacy platform at your organization. If that's the case, ease of setup and admin are the areas that affect you directly, and there are several key areas to focus on.
Firstly, setup and integrations. The best employee advocacy platforms on the market fit seamlessly into the most sophisticated tech stack an enterprise company may have. Smarp, for instance, integrates with your HR systems, communication channels, content management tools, file hosting services, and business analytics suits. That allows you to synchronize your data across the board and make life easier for every stakeholder involved: from IT to HR, marketing, and internal comms.
Secondly, admin roles and permissions. The more complex your organization is, the more you should pay attention to admin roles charts and user permissions that the employee advocacy platform can offer. You need to have full control over the EA program while also delegating responsibilities to local admins and subject matter experts. Think global, act local.
Lastly, analytics. You want to keep track of your campaign performances, you want to understand the 'whys' behind the numbers, you want to be able to prove the business impact of your employee advocacy program. For all of that, you need an advanced analytics suite. Most employee advocacy platforms allow you to monitor external sharing stats. Advanced analytics suits like Workforce Insights give you a 360 overview of both internal and external activities. It's a powerful tool that gives you unique insights, for example, which team is driving the most traffic, which employee is generating the most revenue, or who is attracting the best talent.
According to G2 data, Smarp is dominating all those parameters, scoring 9.1 in ease of setup and 9.3 in ease of admin criteria. Sociabble is a runner-up with 8.7 for both. And Dynamic Signal finishes with bronze, having 7.9 and 7.8 satisfaction ratings for ease of setup and ease of admin, respectively.
“Smarp is easy to use. It is very easy for our employees to use Smarp and find relevant content within the channel structure. As an admin I love the analytics. This makes it very easy to see the impact Smarp has.”
Tessa W, Enterprise (> 1000 employees)
Quality of Support and Ease of Doing Business With
Launching an employee advocacy program is a long-term strategic initiative that requires a rigorous selection process, constant alignment and planning between stakeholders and the chosen vendor. It can be a long journey. But this journey can also be highly rewarding if you sign the contract with a strategic partner rather than just a tech provider.
All three employee advocacy 2.0 vendors offer advanced onboarding and strategic customer support. Let's see how customers rate those initiatives. Smarp is leading again, with an impressive 9.3 for quality of support and 9.2 for ease of doing business with. Sociabble is not far behind — 9.2 and 9.1 points, respectively. Dynamic Signal comes in third with 7.8 for quality of support and 7.9 for ease of doing business with.
Smarp is committed to your success from day one. As a Smarp customer, you will work with your own dedicated Customer Success Manager looking after your program. You are not alone on this mission. From scoping and launch to constant reviews and growth, Smarp customer success team will be there for you.
“I want to highlight the excellent customer support by our dedicated customer success manager as well as the extended support team. They're very responsive and always trying to find a quick and pragmatic solution for all requests.”
Administrator in Management Consulting, Enterprise(> 1000 employees)
📺 Watch on YouTube. Live Workshop. 5 Lessons From Managing Billion Dollar Employee Advocacy Programs
Product direction defines if an employee advocacy solution's roadmap aligns with the customer's vision and plans. A high product direction score means that the vendor is continuously improving the product, introducing new features that customers appreciate. In this category, Sociable has a score of 9.2, while both Smarp and Dynamic Signal rank 8.6.
Overall, Smarp is leading in six out of seven criteria proving to be the leader in the employee advocacy category. Sociabble has also got strong ratings across the board. Dynamic Signal coming in third with positive scores overall, but not as strong as Smarp or Sociabble.
GaggleAMP vs. Post Beyond
Employee Advocacy 1.0 platforms compared
GaggleAMP and Post Beyond are two of the most popular employee advocacy 1.0 tools on the market. Unlike the advocacy 2.0 platforms reviewed above that cater to employee experience at scale, these solutions are more tactical, which can be a viable option depending on your use case. With 4.5 star rankings on G2.com, they prove to be strong performers in the employee advocacy category. GaggleAMP has a better score for ease of setup and admin, while Post Beyond is rated better for ease of use, meeting the requirements, ease of doing business, and quality of support.
GaggleAMP was founded in 2010 by Glenn Gaudet to solidify and maintain the upstream marketing efforts throughout the digital marketing channels. It provides its users with simple sharing tools, like content scheduling, email distribution, and gamification.
Founded in 2013, Post Beyond enables employees to share approved brand content with their networks. As a mobile-first platform, it comes with useful features such as gamification, personalized feed, and internal posts.
Hootsuite Amplify vs. Bambu by Sprout Social
Social media management tools with advocacy features compared
As I mentioned above, plenty of social media management tools provide some basic level of employee advocacy functionality. In this group of vendors, Hootsuite Amplify and Bambu by Sprout Social offer probably the closest experience to a dedicated employee advocacy tool. However, that experience comes with an additional cost because Amplify and Bambu are packaged separately from Hootsuite and Sprout Social, respectively.
Is this a worthy investment? — It's up to you to decide. These tools are popular among small businesses and mid-market companies, so it all depends on your scale and strategy. In back-to-back comparison on G2, Hootsuite Amplify has 4x times more reviews than Bambu, which indicates its popularity (especially among small businesses). At the same time, Bambu has better ratings compared to Amplify across the board.
Employee Advocacy Tools. How to Choose the Best One for You?
Choosing the best employee advocacy platform for your organization is not an easy task. There are so many variables to consider and so many puzzle pieces to match: features, strategy, integrations, pricing, partner teams, compliance & security. The list goes on. But how satisfying is the moment when the puzzle is complete!
Hopefully, this article gave you some insights into the complex employee advocacy technology space. As I mentioned in the intro to this post, every employee advocacy program is unique. Take Amazon, Salesforce, L'Oréal, or Carlsberg — they all operate in different industries, have different org structures, and have different objectives when it comes to employee advocacy. These companies have something in common, though — they all have chosen Smarp as the trusted technology partner for building their employee advocacy programs. If you'd like to learn more about Smarp and see the most powerful employee advocacy platform in action, we'd be happy to talk.