When it comes to using influencers in your social marketing strategy, you don't always need to look to outsiders with "power" profiles like local or national celebrities. Instead, you can use regular employees to tout your products and services across multiple platforms.

This trend is known as employee advocacy, and it can be powerfully effective. According to the 2019 Dynamic Signal Customer Impact Study, brands that use employee advocacy programs enjoy a 39% increase in brand awareness. Furthermore, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer study found that 53% of surveyed consumers would put their faith in an average company employee's testimonial over that company's CEO.

So how does employee advocacy work in specific detail? A set number of your employees fan out over their personal platforms and talk about their excitement over their work at your company.

These employees also recommend their favorite products and services, act as experts about how those things work, interact and answer questions from consumers, and generally act as ambassadors in a friendly, accessible way to your existing customers and your potential new audience.

Your employee advocates also blog on your website and then link those posts to their platforms, encouraging chats and repostings to help your brand messages go viral. It sounds great, doesn't it? Here are the essential steps you need to put a top-notch employee advocacy into place:

Choose the right advocates.

The Edelman study found that 65% of consumers find company employees in technology positions to be the most trustworthy about brand info, for example. Obviously, then, you want to focus your selection process on those members of your tech team who are the most well-versed in the mechanics of how your products and services work. But you don't want to limit your scope of participants, either.

Put out the word to your employees that you'd like to involve them in some advocacy work and find out which of your employees have the biggest number of social media followers. You want to choose employees who have presences on a broad range of platforms as well.

Then, check out their posts (with their permission, of course). Look for employees who engage with their followers in positive, energetic ways, too. Do all of this, and you'll have your perfect participants: one to six advocates per brand is a great number to start with.

Use an online employee advocacy program for quick setup and navigation.

Providers like Post Beyond can easily set up an employee advocacy plan for your company, covering key points like scheduling posts and social listening techniques to streamline the process from the get-go. This way, you can focus on interpreting the data you receive after your employees start getting the word out, rather than getting tripped up on time-consuming tech details.

Encourage your advocates to help create the core of your advocacy approach.

Give them input into everything from ideas for ad copy to choosing hashtags and product photos and coordinating the best rollout of posting times. Make sure they stress the importance of relaying breaking news from your company as they post it so that new product launches have the best chance to go viral quickly.

Don't hover, though; let your employees have the freedom to speak for your brand freely, as they know best how to communicate with their followers successfully. Employ a strategy of trust as you go forward. The more you show your advocates that you have faith in their ability to successfully communicate the right messaging for your brand, the more confident and creative they will be.

Use the power of curation.

Choosing one or two department supervisors as "curators" who write content for your site will give them a bigger stake in getting the word out personally for your brand. These curators can analyze questions and comments your advocates get from the customers they interact with and customize the answers they seek into your larger brand messaging.

Your curators should also be the point people for feedback and info trends other advocates report they are seeing in their feeds, so your campaign focuses can be adjusted easily in real time regarding the brand/product info people are most interested in.

Reward great effort.

You should repay your advocates for their extra work and enthusiasm through public praise, giving incentives like gift certificates or an employee of the week award. You should also promote advocates to positions where they can show aptitude for based on the skills they display in their social media marketing tasks.

Always show your advocates honest appreciation, and they will make you proud collectively and consistently — then everyone benefits!