With employee advocacy seeing a rise in popularity, it’s no surprise to see so many software platforms popping up to help marketers manage it. But as social media marketing keeps evolving to include new strategies, choosing between the glut of solutions designed to make life easier actually creates a new set of headaches. First there was social media marketing, and the platforms to manage it—then content marketing, then influencer marketing, and now employee advocacy. The veteran marketer who’s lived through all this growth might find herself managing all these components using multiple platforms.
For an employee advocacy platform startup with no previous history in the market, getting your new creation into the offices of businesses can be a challenge. Marketers with one, two, or even three other platforms aren’t going to be excited about having another browser tab open. For companies like Oktopost, on the other hand, adding an employee advocacy module to their already successful social media management platform is a move that lands right in their suite spot, pun intended.
Oktopost began its life in 2013 strictly as a social media management tool, and aimed primarily at the B2B space. As the social marketing landscape has expanded, so has Oktopost, though they’ve never lost sight of their target market. By 2016, Oktopost placed third on GetApp’s list of the Top 25 Social Media Marketing tools. G2 Crowd listed them as a “high performer,” meaning they get consistently good reviews from their customers. As a suite of tools that allowed for full management of a brand’s social presences—including scheduling, social listening, engagement tools, and content curation—the inclusion of an employee advocacy module must have been a no-brainer. And if you’re already one of Oktopost’s many happy customers using their SMM platform, adding the EA bit should be a no-brainer, too.
That’s because adding this function doesn’t require any learning curve for the marketers who are running the show at the console level. Implementing the EA module is something that can best be described as seamless—and that’s a word that seems to be at the core of Oktopost’s vision of how social marketing should work. For the purposes of this review we’re going to focus on their employee advocacy tools, but it’s imperative to point out how well it works with what they’ve already created. The EA functions aren’t groundbreaking—we’ve seen some other platforms leaning more fully into employee advocacy, feature-wise—but it is without question many levels above basic. Combine that with Oktopost’s commitment to operational efficiency, and the whole suite of tools together starts to look very attractive to any company just starting its social marketing initiatives—and maybe even more so for brands managing multiple platforms and looking to streamline.
Oktopost doesn’t reveal any pricing, as each company’s needs will be different. Pricing is customised to their specific needs, including the number of users, advocates, social accounts, and teams.
Oktopost’s employee advocacy platform isn’t a standalone module. In order to use it, you’ll also have to use (or, at least, buy into) their social media management software, as well. If you’re using something else for SMM and are happy with that, Oktopost probably isn’t for you. That said, if you’re looking to have a single sign-on approach to your social marketing—or are already using Oktopost to manage it—then you’ll want to know more about what you can do with it. And we’ll get to that shortly. First, though, let’s look at what I meant by the phrase “operational efficiency” in the Overview above.
First, there’s the matter of the admin console as the one place marketers can log on to manage their social and content marketing, with a seamless integration into employee advocacy. Without going too deep into the social marketing side of what Oktopost can do, it’s enough to say that the Content Curation feature is the starting point for an advocacy campaign. Once you’ve got your social accounts connected and you start to post content through the platform, Oktopost uses these posts as “inspiration” for curating content on your behalf. The more you post, the more the platform learns what’s relevant to your business, the more accurate the content suggestions will be.
When you post or schedule content through the admin console, you can assign it to what’s called a “board.” This is essentially a generic way to organize your posts between social accounts or campaigns. You can also assign it to your Employee Advocacy board, which is how your in-house ambassadors will be able to see it and share. More on that later. The point here is that in the course of doing the social marketing things you’re already doing, you’ve got the option to include your employee advocates, as well. There’s no functional difference from within the console, and you don’t need to use a separate interface to accomplish this.
Another way that Oktopost keeps things streamlined is with its Chrome browser extension. If you’ve stumbled upon something on the web that you feel is relevant for you to post, you can just click on the extension icon in the toolbar, and you’ll be brought directly back to the platform, with the link ready for you to create a post.
Of course, Oktopost can’t be all things to all businesses—social media marketing is their game, and the can’t be expected to handle all aspects of the sales cycle. Understanding this, they developed a key integration that puts employee advocacy in the hands of those whose actual job is to sell the brand: the sales team. Oktopost’s integration with Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM platform, is another example of how the developers understand the reality of employee’s day-to-day software use. Salesforce is an essential tool for salespeople, and an excellent vehicle for them to start sharing content with their network of leads, propspects, and clients. With the integration, your sales team can use the Oktopost advocacy engine directly inside Salesforce, never having to leave switch between windows or copy and pasting URLs in order to get quality content to their network.
With all that attention being paid to making sure the software works seamlessly for a business, you’d expect that the actual process of employee advocacy posting would work fairly effortlessly. It’s a fair expectation, and one that Oktopost definitely meets.
Employees participate through a mobile app. They sign in and are greeted by a dashboard with a variety of content to choose from, all of which has been plugged into the pipeline by whoever is running the controls from the admin side. To make sure that employees are getting the kind of content that resonates with them, marketers can tag each piece with a topic or topics that apply. On the employee side, when they’ve signed on the first time, they’ll choose the topics that interest them, and then only see the appropriate content in their dashboard for a share.
Everything else works exactly as you’d expect an employee advocacy platform to work. Employees can easily share content that they find interesting with a few clicks, and these posts can be immediate, or scheduled, either manually or automatically. There’s a base level of gamification, with leaderboards showing who the top performers are based on the number of shares and clicks. This, actually, is the one area where Oktopost doesn’t go far enough: while the leaderboard on its own can be a motivating factor for some of your more dedicated employees, the lack of a built-in rewards function is a noticeable deficiency. Sure, businesses can create their own contests or rewards outside the system, using the leaderboard metrics as the basis, but this is contrary to an otherwise seamless experience.
On the other hand, Oktopost gets another crucial aspect of employee advocacy right, and that is in the way it includes the participants in the content planning process. Anyone has the ability to suggest specific pieces of content they’ve found and think would be valuable to share. They can send a link, along with a little note of elaboration, from within their mobile app. When they do this, the marketers on the admin side of things will see the suggestion from the console. They can accept or reject it, and if they’ve done the former it’s just a matter of posting back out to the advocacy boards before employees see it show up in their content stream. Little things like this show that Oktopost understand the psychology behind what motivates employees: if you want them to act like they’re a part of something bigger, you have to actually make them a part of something bigger.
If you’ve read everything up until this point, you may have noticed that this review doesn’t dwell too deeply on every little aspect of Oktopost’s foray into employee advocacy. That’s not because there isn’t much to talk about—there is, It’s just that doing all of that stuff well isn’t what makes Oktopost such an attractive option.
Instead, it’s their clearly apparent understanding of the kinds of issues companies have when adopting new software. Oktopost definitely spent a lot of time considering how to make the process easy for the individuals using the software, and effective for the companies that are paying to use it. But the truly impressive part is how hard they worked at making their software unobtrusive for just about any environment. The goal of employee advocacy is to transform a workforce into an integral piece of a brand’s marketing efforts, and they did that by understanding that software is, too. It’s one thing to make a tool that’s well suited for the task at hand. It’s another thing entirely to make sure it fits perfectly into the toolbox. Oktopost obviously understands their target market, which is a great quality in a software solution aimed at marketers.