Are your employees social media brand advocates?

Morgan    October 16, 2017

Humana is an American health insurance company based in Louisville, Kentucky who recognizes the importance of brand advocacy from employees on social media. Humana incorporated employee social media advocacy as part of their social media strategy. Humana used employee advocacy as part of their content pillars content sharing not only for brand awareness and to drive campaigns, but to also optimize your organic reach. Forty percent of Humana’s content is branded and Sixty percent is health and well-being content, which allows employees to grow followers and become influencers in the space. So when employees share Humana’s content, they have a more qualified audience. (Heine, 2017)

As of 2014 Humana has had over 13 million customers in the U.S., reported a 2013 revenue of US$41.3 billion, and has had 51,600 employees. In 2013, the company ranked 73 on the Fortune 500 list, which made it the highest ranked (by revenues) company based in Kentucky. It has been the third largest health insurance in the United States. (Wikipedia, 2017)

In the healthcare industry adverts and communications are a lot more rigid and have more restrictions for your general audience. Humara had to abide by stricter regulations for its content, images and what they’re able to portray online compared to other B2C and CPG companies. To assist with their key messaging’s, Humana reached out to a third party vendor, Dynamic Signal software, which builds employee advocacy platforms. Humana wanted to effectively use social media savvy, engaged employees as brand advocates. Humana had a 90% sign-up rate for its internal social media network and roughly 40%-45% of employees logged into it monthly. But the company still wanted to leverage its connected staffers in public channels like Twitter. (Stein, 2016)

Dynamic Signal assisted Humana to reach out to its most engaged employees who had active social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. The pilot program at that time, started with a couple hundred staffers and grew to 500 by January 2016. (Stein, 2016)

Realizing that employee influence was key to their core messaging of health and wellness, Humana decided to encourage employee brand advocacy and share comment, content and images about their company.  According to the The Foundations of Advocacy, employee-authored content is shared four-and-a-half more times than social influencer posts.  A lot of Humana’s shared content involves potentially helpful information about health trends and wellness topics. (Heine, 2017)

Humana had to ensure they were compliant while engaging their employees to become social advocates. On the regulatory front, their legal department ensured the program was in compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations in the USA. For example, #HumEmployee is included in every post that is shared to make it clear that the person works at Humana.(Stein, 2016) This not only identifies the writer as an employee, but it also creates organic reach with that unique hashtag. It also creates a small online community driving engagement to the content writer and the company itself.

Employees also have to adhere to rules within HIPPA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), including not acknowledging somebody’s disease or illness publicly, even if they tweet at a Humana employee about it. Employees are also not allowed to post about Humana or correct someone else’s incorrect post about the company – they have to reach out to the social media or corporate communications team. (Stein, 2016) Having these stipulations in place especially within the healthcare industry, keeps the messaging consistent to their initial strategy which was to include their employees ad advocates, engaging in health and wellness but also protecting their customers.

Humana has also incorporated Podcasts for their sales representatives online. Encouraging them to share health and wellness with their customers and being brand advocates in office and outside of the office. “Now we’re focusing on how to take each and every marketing campaign we do, small or big, and include advocates as part of the plan” Dan Gingliss, head of digital marketing for Humana. This has become integrated into everything we think about from a marketing perspective” (Stein, 2016).

Humana not only maintains their current customer relationships online, Humana is actively involved in building communities. Community-building is vital online, as fragmented audiences search for a place to connect with like-minded people and bond over similar health experiences. It’s also a long-term path to increased credibility and trust in a world of scams and skeptical customers in a healthcare industry. (Bloomcreative, 2017)

Lessons for Others

Corporate training and proper communication is the success to employee brand advocacy online. Ensuring your employees are properly trained on social media is not only crucial for the success of your company, but word of mouth has more of an impact than and advertised post. Here are seven easy steps to the success of employee brand advocates (Rawson Internet Marketing, 2017):

  • Create a written policy
  • Train employees properly
  • Get different levels of involvement
  • Get your employees to be excited
  • Make content easy to share
  • Motivate your employees
  • Track employees use of social media i.e. Unique Hashtags

Social media is evolving and more customers and employees are going online. When an employee truly understands and believes in your company, the employee’s enthusiasm will be evident in how they engage the audience on Facebook, Twitter and other social media marketing platforms. By communicating their passion to others, the level of employee engagement is more likely to attract potential sales prospects impressed by what they have read about your product and service. (Rawson Internet Marketing, 2017).

Organization: Humana
Industry: Healthcare
Name of Organization Contact: Bruce D. Broussard

Authored by: M.F

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


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