hilton employees holding balloons

Hilton’s 5-Prong Approach to Employee Advocacy on Social

By: Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, Former Senior Director, HR Digital Strategy and Implementation, Hilton Worldwide (Now Director, Employer Brand & Social Media, Spectrum)

November 27, 2019

Generating new and exciting content is essential to any social media strategy, but it’s no small feat. Brands spend a good chunk of their marketing budget on copywriters, agencies and influencers to build a library of rich, dynamic content that captures and keeps their audience’s attention.

During my time at Hilton, we built a similar tribe of content creators, but they didn’t come with the high agency price tag—they’re our team members.

With nearly 5,000 hotels globally, we turned to team members to create content to power HR social content strategy and promote the value of a Hilton career. After all, content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than content shared by a brand, according to an Edelman study, so we wanted to put them in the driver’s seat.

In less than a year, more than 200 team members showed what a career with Hilton looks like via about 850 posts to the @HiltonCareers Instagram account.


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Go #TeamHilton! We’re still celebrating being named the #2 Best Workplace in the World by @gptw_us and @fortunemag. A big thanks to our Team Members for their commitment and dedication that is being recognized year over year! We are so proud of #TeamHilton! #WeAreHilton #WorldsBestWorkplaces

A post shared by Hilton Careers (@hiltoncareers) on

Hilton Worldwide, Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, senior director, HR digital strategy and implementation

Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, Former Senior Director, HR Digital Strategy and Implementation, Hilton Worldwide (Now Director, Employer Brand & Social Media, Spectrum)

We were pretty strict with the rules on this one. Team members took over the account for just one day to show Hilton’s followers a “day in the life” (even our CEO only got one day). This content not only engaged Hilton’s social audience but was also leveraged across internal and external channels for maximum impact.

Employee advocacy wasn’t new at Hilton. We’d been doing this for some time with the award-winning @HiltonSuggests program. But our approach to @HiltonCareers took it a step further with the visual element of content creation. Having this baseline of advocacy certainly helped build momentum, but if you’re just starting from scratch, here are five steps to get started with your own employee advocacy program.

Find the doers. This sounds obvious but it is often overlooked. Find the employees who are always looking to do more. If you search, I bet you can come up with a list of 10 people who are always asking for more. If they know social, awesome—but if they don’t, see the next step.

Hold their hand. Of course, it’s easier to start with someone who understands social, but if your brand doesn’t have a social media army to turn to, I encourage you to think outside the box. When I started the @HiltonSuggests Twitter team, I trained many team members to tweet, and a handful of these tweeters turned out to be our best performers. Be open to teaching someone new tricks and take the time to hold their hand along the way—it will pay off.

Give guidance, but not too much. Less is more here. Keep the rules to a minimum. Have a solid social media policy and provide training so your employees know the do’s and don’ts. Most importantly, encourage your tribe to have fun. Social is about connecting to humans, not slogans or taglines. Don’t force your tribe to show you what you want to see. Instead, let them show you something you never even thought of. Turn over the keys and get ready to be dazzled.

Leverage an existing program in new ways. When I was at Hilton, we had several social media resource groups that were a natural place to start. We also had a team tasked with finding stories internally to share on our intranet. Do you have employees engaging on social media or the content creation process that can be leveraged in a new way?

Thank them, then thank them again. Your tribe just created a lot of content that can be used time and time again. Be sure to thank them for it! Thank you notes, whether a hand-written card or a friendly social shout out, go a long way. Promote their content on internal and external channels to give them the recognition they deserve.

This article previously appeared in What’s Shakin’ in May 2017.

Vanessa Sain-Dieguez is the director of employer brand and social media at Spectrum. Previously, she was senior director of HR digital strategy and implementation at Hilton Worldwide. 

Follow Vanessa: @VSDieguez 

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