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Practical Advice from TransUnion on Launching and Running an Employee Advocacy Program 🙌

Updated: May 14, 2019

We are frequently asked how to approach employee advocacy programs - and often if we can share learnings from other clients’ programs. Who doesn’t love a case study, right? Plus, we all know people behind the brand is where social is headed.

So I was pretty excited about the recent “How TransUnion Approached Employee Advocacy” webinar. Social Media Manager, Kristen O’Neil shared the highs, lows and dos and do-nots from their 600 member (🙀) employee advocacy pilot program.

It was super refreshing to hear Kristen’s candid and transparent take on the experience. Hope these highlights help you, too!


As you know, a first - and significant - challenge is generating internal buy-in. Kristen had a great tip that she came by as a happy accident: address each team’s needs separately. She initially chose this method because it was easier for her to schedule out, but it turned out to be a key strategy for the success of her pilot. Why? It allowed her to directly address each teams’ inevitable ‘what’s in this for me’ questions.

Kirsten mentioned the sales team was worried about time commitments; her marketing team’s budget and resources concerns and of course the legal team’s questions around monitoring employee social use and appropriate company representation. Sound familiar?😆

Bonus: once their questions were answered, the teams’ interest piqued and they could see the program as an opportunity to enhance their work.


The next step to ensuring a successful pilot program is promoting it, and recruiting great candidates to test it out. Here are a few of the steps Kristen took:

  • Build a large pool of potential pilot candidate by reaching out different company lists; grabbing 5 minutes on as many agendas as possible; and even posting physical signage around the office.

  • Promoting with clear “what’s in it for you” messaging Kristen promoted the pilot with three fundamental messages: a participating would enhance their success (be that lead generation, marketing, connecting with prospects, etc); the program is super easy to use and there were limited spaces available in the pilot.

  • Target Power Social Media Users  Kristen recognized that although the end game was to have all 7,000 TransUnion employees participating in social employee advocacy regardless of social savvy, having some rockstar users in the pilot was key to success.  Kristen researched LinkedIn to find employees already actively posting and recruited them specifically.

  • Executive buy-in The last, but super important tip, was to gain buy in - and ideally participation - from executives. Kristen emphasized the value of spending even 20 minutes with an executive to walk them through the program - how it works and the value. Investing time in your leaders can also spark their team’s participation.


After selecting 600 pilot participants, Kristen surveyed them asking questions like what area of the company they work in, how familiar they are with social media, their goals for using it, their current frequency of posting, and how comfortable they were going into the program.

These types of questions established a base level understanding of the participants, assess training needs and build in support systems to help participants thrive.


This was huge. Kirsten then shared how she approached training - and what she would do differently.

  • What didn’t work: Kristen sent an initial set-up email with too many asks, including watching a 20 minute intro video. Participants quickly lost interest or didn’t have the time, and the training fell to the wayside.What did: Now, Kristen hosts bi-monthly in-person trainings instead of an email, where she is able to meet with her program participants and offer a live walkthrough of the program they used (GaggleAMP) and share best practices and cultivate excitement.


And now for everyone’s biggest challenge: content. Creating marketing approved, on-brand messaging for use by hundreds, and potentially thousands, of employees is a problem Kristen is still working on improving.

  • She recommends starting small:

  • Strategically choosing topics

  • Closely monitoring the time and resources needed to create and distribute

  • Content Sources

  • company marketing campaigns

  • Google alerts and news searches

  • Industry newsletters

  • LinkedIn influencers

  • Company employees with a clear passion for their work and mission


Providing positive feedback and incentivizing employees to continue their social media use is a big part of ensuring the success of the overall program, and Kristen is still working on what this looks like at TransUnion. She mentions she’s always walking a fine line between bugging people and keeping them engaged.

One way Kristen keeps the momentum is through a monthly newsletter with program stats, a social media engagement leaderboard, tips and tricks, and success stories of how TransUnion employees have increased their lead generation and sales.

She also shared an incentive / recognition program idea: spotlighting successful employees in a personal email with their manager copied and a shoutout in the newsletter - or even physical rewards.


As lead generation and sales are top goals for TransUnion, Kristen is constantly faced with proving the program is creating leads. She walked us through some of GaggleAmp’s dashboards, and shared with us that her pilot program was actually finding more leads than many of TransUnion’s paid campaigns! The promising pilot results are even leading to company-wide increased program interest.

So valuable to hear Kristen's insights. Here's the webinar if you'd like to check it out.

Are you thinking through an employee advocacy program? Or have you found successes or failures with a pilot? Would love to hear from you - leave a comment, DM or tweet me!


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