Employee advocacy is a practice of employees promoting their workplace as private people, instead of from a corporate social media account, for example. Employee advocacy can happen online or offline and be either organized or spontaneous.
At its most basic form, being a brand advocate means saying good things about a brand to someone you know. From a company’s point of view this kind of brand advocacy is nice, but the effects of spontaneous promotion are largely unknown. There are, however, ways to encourage your employees to become brand advocates where the brand in question can see tangible results.
The keywords here are the ones I just mentioned: tangible results. Quite naturally, when you have lots of employees (or any other people for that matter) speaking positively about your company, it has an impact on your brand.
Most people in the workforce want to join a company that is well-liked. It helps if the employee brand advocates are specifically praising your HR policies and enjoy working in your company. Brand advocacy coming from your employees will have an impact on your company’s attractiveness as an employer. This gives you an edge when competing for workforce.
Social media platforms (like Linkedin, Facebook, and others) have algorithms that choose which content to show. These algorithms give considerably more visibility to individuals posting content than a corporate account posting content. Simply put, if your employee posts original content about a product launch, their post will reach a larger portion of their followers than yours would.
People are also more likely to trust the opinion of an individual than a company tooting their own horn. Your employees are also more likely to reach people that are not in the follower base of your corporate account, which means that you can reach potential new customers via employees.
As I mentioned above, consumers are much more likely to trust an individual’s (unbiased) opinion than an ad, for example. Selling your products via employee brand advocates is also known as social selling. Your employees can sometimes reach and influence new consumers to buy your product with more convincing power than your company itself.
Since employee advocacy is voluntary, it makes sense that if you have a large group of people who are happy to promote your brand in their private life, they are probably happy with you. Employee happiness is gold because happy employees stay with your company longer, they are more productive, more innovative and can inspire others as well.
More sales, better reach, more productive employees… Sign me up, right? If harnessing your employees as influencers that promote your brand was easy, everyone would do it. There are dozens of tools that help you with the operational work that goes into starting an employee advocacy program where you exchange good reviews from your people to some sort of a reward.
While utilizing some tracking tools for monitoring how your efforts into employee advocacy are working for you is a fine idea, there are steps that need to climbed before that. I’m sure you want to avoid unhappy employees writing forced and dishonest compliments just to get the rewards you’ve promised.
The first thing to check is that your company culture aligns with your brand values. For example, if you value innovation and creativity in your employees (like most organizations), you should translate those values into supporting actions.
If your company has misalignment happening, your brand will easily be judged by your employees as dishonest. And who would like to genuinely promote an employer that is dishonest?
As you are making changes and preparing your company for employee advocacy, do it transparently. Give your employees an opportunity to give feedback. Share your thought process that went into making a change. Address controversy and take responsibility for your actions. Transparency creates empathy and trust, which are both necessary in building long-term employee advocacy.
Once your brand is advocacy-worthy in the eyes of your employees and you are ready to reap the benefits with the help of an effectiveness monitoring tool, educate people first. Social media training helps your employees help you.
It’s unlikely that all your employees already use platforms like LinkedIn and it’s even unlikelier that they have large, engaged networks. To get the impact you are looking for, you will need to train your (voluntary) team to be visible in social media.
Now you have a brand that resonates with your employees, you’ve got goals and measurements in place, the team has a stellar presence in all the right marketing channels, what could go wrong? There is still one potential wrong turn that can come between you and your advocacy success: inconsistent brand use.
Even though employees are using their personal voice to talk about your brand, you want to make sure that your branding visuals like logos, images, banners and such are used right. Without branding consistency, your audience will not relate to or recognize your company and everyone’s hard work is dampened.
Make sure that all your people have easy access to the same images, videos and other resources by using an efficiency-boosting Digital Asset Management system, like Lytho.
Finally, make sure that your employees stay content by checking in on them regularly and continuing being open to feedback. Having an engaged workforce requires constant effort. You can use 360 feedback sessions, anonymous surveys or whatever tool or method works for you. Employee advocacy takes time to build, but the effects can be really powerful and worth all the effort.
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