How IAG is amplifying employee brand advocacy

Providing staff with tools to share bespoke brand and third-party content socially has proven a powerful way for IAG to access the hard-to-reach broker audience

Most brand leaders know that if you want to deliver a message with authenticity, employees are your best advocates. So when it came to finding a way to better connect with the hard-to-reach broker audience, IAG turned to its own staff as an amplification channel.

As IAG brand lead for CGU, Gerry Avalos, explained it, the insurance giant’s broker business is a “peculiar flavour” of B2B requiring its brands to win the hearts of minds not just of consumers, but also the brokers reselling products.

“I call it the double funnel – make the customer know who you and love you, but also make sure a broker recommends you,” Avalos said. “Brokers are particularly tricky to reach. We have a good relationship team working with these customers, but it is a niche, smaller audience.

“We’ve used paid social media in our marketing plan, but that can get very expensive when you’re trying to reach 14,000 brokers in Australia. We also wanted to leverage this idea of authentic connection.”  

With an in-house rep team boasting of relationships across the broker community, IAG looked to take advantage of their professional networks and connect with brokers “in a way that makes sense”.

“We already have people in social working for those teams who are posting their own content as they try to engage with their professional networks and audiences - some more successfully than others. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort to create this content, as you can imagine,” Avalos said. “So the question was how we could kill two birds with one stone: Reach that tricky broker audience in a more meaningful way, while giving our people the tools they need to promote themselves as well as our brands.”

The question led IAG to implement the Hootsuite Amplify tool to empower employees to become brand advocates via social media.

Having a tool like this makes it more credible,” Avalos said. “We’ve also seen people will be more positive when the content is coming from someone you know compared to a faceless corporation. We still have a broader social strategy, but this is another weapon in our arsenal.”  


While the Hootsuite tool provides measurement reporting, Avalos’ team didn’t have a clear measure for success at first. So it started benchmarking using a pilot group.

“We made sure the people involved at the beginning were already keen. Secondly, this was about getting learnings on the type of content we should create and what works and doesn’t,” Avalos said. The pilot, which kicked off in November 2020, started with 20 people identified as both motivated and proactive on social.

“One of the first learnings we got, which will come as no surprise, is you need a non-stop stream of content,” Avalos said. “The moment you stop, people lose interest and forget about it. We have a well-resourced content team an in-house studio, content producers and social media experts doing things for our NRMA Facebook page, for example. But the content creator for the stream left suddenly, so we had a lag of a couple of weeks without content and we saw usage go down quickly.

“We never made that mistake again. There’s so much content in there now, you could be posting for months and not run out.” 

IAG has built out a bespoke content strategy for brokers, the same as it does for other social channels. “This is a specific audience, and it’s coming from our people so it’s written in a different tone of voice,” Avalos continued.

“However, we did post like for like for a period of time and put media spend and targeted brokers on LinkedIn versus the same content on Amplify to do some analysis on what engagement we got. Hootsuite blew it out of the water with 120 per cent more engagement – we saw more clicks, more comments, more likes on some content. It wasn’t a scientific experiment, but it did give us a good view that we were onto something.”  

The pilot ran for a couple of months. As it was going on, Avalos was receiving requests from peers of people in the pilot asking to be part of it too.

“We started quickly onboarding these groups, doing onboarding sessions for each crew to explain the reasons why, motivations, troubleshoot and answer any questions,” he said. “It’s an app-based product and it’s straightforward to use the system, but there are always people who get nervous, so we did the sessions as a complete onboarding experience.”

Results since rolling out the social employee advocacy program include a 71 per cent adoption rate by employees, with 95 per cent posting content on a weekly basis. Overall, IAG has achieved 80 per cent increased reach from advocate posts versus corporate social channels. 

The team has since extended the program with UpContent, a third-party plugin that enables IAG to bring content from other sources into the Hootsuite pot for employees to share. This could be an article from Insurance Magazine article that mentions CGU, for example.

“UpContent allows us to inject branding using HTML, so we can say ‘this article was shared by CGU’,” Avalos said. “This is not necessarily content with a brand purpose, but it’s content that will help our reps brand themselves. They are also getting that value-add and thought leadership they can post as part of their professional social presence.

“We now have a combination of branded and third-party content in the library which can be reshared, which teams find really useful. That’s the other thing: You need to make sure you keep them engaged.”

Helping IAG sustain engagement is someone from the rep team embedded in the brand team. There are also weekly editorial meetings where teams discuss what’s upcoming, showcase content, gather feedback, talk about topical themes, plus delve into what’s working and what’s not.

“We are marketers and don’t necessarily know what’s happening in the field, whereas the team knows and they’re the best source for knowing what we should be talking about,” Avalos said.

While there is no hard-and-fast rule on how much employees post, IAG recommends posting at least three times per week and to be consistent. Employees can choose their social channel, though given the broker community being targeted, 90 per cent of content ends up on LinkedIn.

Hootsuite’s tool also has a monthly ladder of who has gleaned top views and shares, adding a competitive bent to the program. “We thought about incentivising that but didn’t have to,” Avalos said. “If anything, employees post too often.

“For another brand we have, Wesfarmers Federation Insurance, that’s a slightly different audience and we have sales managers on the ground going to the farms and living in the community. We use Amplify with them as well but they’re posting more to Twitter and Facebook. We find the rural audience is older and skews more to Facebook.

“Another thing we found was it’s hard to balance that mix of what our guys want versus what we want the audience to hear. The reps are salespeople and if we post product-type content, they’re all over that. But it can’t all be sales; we need brand and value-added content too.”

According to Avalos, top performing content includes anything to do with people. “For example, we had a series of profiles around International Women’s Day showcasing women in the industry – both brokers and employees of IAG – and that went really well,” he said.

Today, 150 IAG employees are involved in the social advocacy program, including several underwriters and execs. The program has become an element of future campaigns and one more channel in the marketing mix.

Learnings from creating the program have also proven important to unrelated projects across the organisation. “A lot of the thinking, processes and philosophy beyond how this social advocacy program works is influencing how other projects are being approached,” Avalos added.  

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