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If your organization isn’t involved in employee social advocacy, you will be soon, predicted AT&T’s Lee Diaz at the April SMC Dallas meeting. Speaking on “Activating Employees as Social Advocates,” Lee addressed the rationale, people, processes and platforms behind AT&T’s employee program.

SMC Dallas Speaker photo

Lee Diaz on Employee Social Advocacy. Photo by @MarketingMarya

The employee social media program focuses on the objective of building reputation. Other corporate social practitioners handle customer care and marketing objectives. Data demonstrates the value of regular employee company-related social media engagement. In particular, Lee emphasized the Dell study indicating there is only an 8% overlap between employee followers and brand property followers. That means that employee advocates can dramatically extend a brand’s reach. In fact, the SocialChorus infographic says that reach is multiplied by a factor of 10.


After several years, the employee program “Social Circle” now has 2300 participants who volunteer from the eligible pool of salaried managers. Average follower count is 274 per member, across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Some of the most ardent advocates are those who learned social media through the Social Circle program, according to Lee. In addition to the nuts and bolts work of program development, one of the proven growth mechanisms is gamification. “Badges work–just like scouting!”

Only 8 % overlap between brand & employee followers

From SocialChorus Infographic


Although AT&T’s internal social media platform tSpace (supported by IBM Connections) has been in place for some time, the recent enhancements have been enabled by The Hub, which is a SocialChorus supported platform housing curated content that enables direct sharing from program participants’ personal social media accounts. SocialChorus tracks employee content sharing and engagement, and can be used to calculate the value of earned media, which Lee describes as a “game changer,” since it measures overall program effectiveness.

Practices and Process

The Social Circle is supported by four employees: one for content creation, one for platform support and two who support the program recruitment, training and communication. Participan training requirements have changed dramatically, with mandatory training reduced to just a seven-minute video. On-line help content is available for most Q&A.

Training emphasizes ethics and good common sense about customer responses, tone and content. Since most participants are familiar with consumer social media platforms, “how to” training is rarely needed any more. It’s necessary to develop an escalation framework, since employees will get contacted regarding customer service or network incidents and need to know how to escalate those issues within the company.

Finally, it’s important to emphasize disclosure. All employees brand their posts #ATTemployee to meet FCC guidelines, which require that bloggers publically indicate their affiliation (and implied renumeration) at the point of post.

How does AT&T calculate that the social advocacy program brings it an ROI? It’s simple. To summarize, note that:

  • 2300 members have created 28,381 actions (posts, etc.)

  • 546,475 audience engagements (retweets, shares, replies)

  • 19.3 engagements per action

Run those stats through the SocialChorus algorithm and you get a program value of $1,379,110. Employee engagement works.




Thanks to the sponsors who made this event possible, including Zoes Kitchen at Snider Plaza and Sprinklr. And we appreciate the event photos from Moments by Marya that are posted on Facebook. As always, thanks to Verizon, our annual sponsor.