7 Tips for Building and Sustaining Employee Advocacy

Introduction

A report by Gartner, Inc. said that the number of companies eliminating access to social media sites is reducing by almost 10% each year. This is a clear sign that businesses are realizing the power of employee advocacy in captivating a larger chunk of the audience. Right from the CEO himself to the front desk staff, to the HR, more and more companies are encouraging their employees to use their social media profiles to their advantage to share their company’s content.

An employee advocacy program is not only great for your brand image but also has a huge impact on its bottom-line. BRANDfog conducted a survey which inferred that 77% of customers are more inclined to make a purchase from a firm, the CEO of which is active on social media.

However, like every other approach, brand advocacy has its downsides too. It could get a little tricky, especially when it comes to ensuring the compliance of the employees. In spite of this, several organizations have successfully planned and executed several employee advocacy programs. Deloitte has empowered and mobilized about 1200 employees in being instrumental in a recruitment drive. Another example is Dell, which ran one of the biggest employee advocacy programs where over half their employees were certified by their in-house social media program. Here is a small checklist that may help you carry out a successful employee advocacy program:

Trust your employees

Your brand story will be received by your audience in the best possible way when it’s shared by your employees. However, they will only share it when they, themselves convinced by it. You can get your employees to trust you by trusting them yourself. This may be one of the biggest hurdles for you as a brand. When your employees feel trusted by you, they will automatically be more open to participating in your program as well as initiate conversations.

Create a favorable organization culture

Your organization culture has to complement the intent behind your employee advocacy program. If you have an uptight culture, you cannot expect your employees to be proactive when it comes to posting your brand message on their social. It must be in congruence with the goals of the company and should be supportive and rewarding of its participants. In a nutshell, your organization must be extremely social. Lastly, the social media engagement must fit into the employee’s work day and shouldn’t be outside of it.

Kick-start an employee advocacy program in stages

Any program requires some form of employee training and knowledge transfer before execution. Training is an important part of any program and employee advocacy is no exception. You must start with smaller groups, in order to ensure there isn’t an excessive drain in resources. Besides being effective, this small group of employees will serve as a test sample to make sure training is carried out properly. You could use the monitored results of your training to modify and better the program in increments.

Create simple employee advocacy guidelines

While employees should have the freedom of putting their own spin on the content that they are posting, you will still be required to set down some ground rules to deem what content is appropriate and what isn’t. Doing so will minimize the risk of instances of inappropriate posts being shared. It is also imperative that your guidelines are straight-forward and easy to understand as opposed to being convoluted and overly complicated which would only discourage your employees from participating.

Give your employees material to share

Often times, even though employees may be more than willing to share brand content, they may not necessarily have the right material to share it. Distribution of content among the participants will boost engagement and help employees in times of confusion about the content that they are sharing. Telling employees what exactly to share will help send a uniform message to the targeted audience.

Turn employees into content creators

You may be pleasantly surprised to know that a lot of your employees already possess the skills to create content. Be it blogs, videos, pictures or any other form of multimedia, you should encourage your employees with the skills to create original content relevant to your business and share it. You could also have employees compete for who may have created better content which tends to boost results in terms of performance.

Recognition of employee advocates

About 78% of the US workforce has claimed at recognition and acknowledgment of their efforts motivates them to execute better. Large organizations should preferably incentivize the advocacy program where it’s tough for participants to stay motivated and consistently perform.