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.

Increase Your Declining Social Reach With Employee Advocacy

What is employee advocacy?

 Employee advocacy can be defined as the advocacy or promotion of an organization by its own employees and staff members. An employee advocate brings value to his company in the following ways:

  • Creating positive exposure and building brand awareness through online and offline media.
  • Recommendation of his company’s product/services to friends and family
  • Works in alignment with the best interests of the company
  • Embodies a sense of ownership in the organization
  • Knows the company’s products and services inside out and can function as a spokesperson for the company

Types of employee advocacy

  1. Social advocacy: Since your potential customers spend quite a bit of time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social networks (over an hour a day on an average when totaled), it’s a great touch point to come in contact with them. Capturing their attention can be done more efficiently by the employees than the brand itself by sharing articles from your blog or pictures taken at the office.
  2. Incentives: According to a recent study, 72% of businesses said that recognition given to high performing individuals drastically improved employee engagement. One way of doing this is rewarding the “employee of the month” or mentioning his/her name in your newsletter giving them recognition, also known as employee advocacy programs.
  3. Swag: Swag is an old employee advocacy technique that shockingly still does work in the present day. Providing employees with tee’s, key chains, etc. helps to advocate on behalf of your company.

Merits of Employee Advocacy

With the employee hiring market getting more and more competitive coupled with the changes In the way consumers shop, employee advocacy has received more focus off late. Employee advocacy is very similar to Social media marketing. However, not a lot of brands were optimistic about Social about 3-5 years ago. However, today, the case is the exact opposite. Most of today’s successful brands have heavily invested in social media and many of them are now betting on employee advocacy as well.

Let’s see why:

  1. Increased reach on social media: Organic reach has reduced by a great extent over the past few years. According to a study, the organic reach of 3,000 Facebook dropped by 42% per post between January and May 2016. This has caused a lot of brands to invest money in social media marketing through ads and boosting their posts to gain a wider reach. While these tactics are great, employee advocacy proves to be a more cost-effective solution to achieve the same goal.

 

 

Socio Advocacy

  • For example, say a 100 employee company’s Facebook page has 2,000 fans. This makes the potential to reach 2,000.Let’s assume every employee has about 338 friends on an average on Facebook. This makes the total potential reach of about 33,800. Which translates to an increase of about 1,590% in reach.As proved with the above example, leveraging your employee’s social media networks gives you the ability to reach an exponentially larger audience and in turn have your message seen by a HUGE number of people.Employees social posts are said to generate about 8x more engagement than posts from their employers. The reason is that people trust their friends’ recommendations and content compared to marketing messages from companies. People are 16x more likely to read a friend’s post than one posted by the brand page itself.If your posts aren’t receiving the desired traffic, employee advocacy is the way to go.

 

  1. Better company culture and retention: Company culture was not given enough weight till about 20 years ago and employee retention seemed to be mostly about compensation and perks to keep the employees invested in the well-being and progress of the company.

employee advocacy

  • Fast forward to today, company culture is gaining increasing amounts of importance and priority for both employers and employees. 80% of businesses have already improved their corporate culture.
  • A good, healthy company culture attracts a lot of top talent because it can be an extremely good differentiator for your brand. Studies have shown that 10% of employers have actually altered their culture to attract a millennial workforce. A good corporate culture helps in building loyalty and engagement if employees.

 

  1. Increase your bottom-line: Besides obviously boosting the morale of your employees and encouraging them to perform better, employee advocacy can also increase your bottom-line. According to a study, about 64% of companies that adopted employee advocacy have attributed it to attract new business. Other than that, 45% of them have credited new revenue streams to employee advocacy. Your employees prove to be the best salespeople even though they may not really be salesmen. Like discussed earlier, it is because their friends and family are way more likely to trust them in being instrumental in making the decision to purchase their goods or services as opposed to some marketing copy printed out by them. According to a study done by  Ogilvy, Google and TNS, word of mouth proved to be the top touch point when it came to influencing potential buyers:
  • Word of mouth – 74%
  • Retailers and store visits – 69%
  • YouTube – 64%
  • Twitter – 61%
  • Company/brand websites – 59%
  • Facebook – 56%
  • Pinterest – 56%
  • Newspapers and magazines – 55%
  • TV and movies – 51%
  • Search – 51%

 

Why Organizations Should Opt for Advocacy Marketing in Today’s Digital World?

In today’s digital world employee advocacy is the number one technique used to promote brands and businesses. What is employee advocacy? Employee advocacy is when the employees of a company talk positively and promote their own organization on social media. The employees promote their brand on social media by using their social network channels. There are many benefits of employee advocacy that make businesses better.

The employee advocates are more connected to the customer audience and extend the reach of the company as they create better customer relations and provide better customer services. Employee advocacy can increase your brand engagement, the active and engaged employee that share brand messaging caused the audience to increase beyond the channel audience. It has been found that only 3% employee’s share company relevant content, but that has been found to increase 32% brand engagement. Another benefit of employee advocates is that they have been proven to be better than brand ambassadors.

Engaged employees have more passion to provide customers with better service, their knowledge of the product allows for them to have better interactions with their customers and have the power to take action on several issues relating to customer service and brand promotion. Employee advocates also help businesses grow, by providing employees with certain amounts of power to promote the brand, the popularity of the brand increases.

Entering the digital age companies and organizations often feel challenged to keep up with the fast high tech needs of the digital age. Some of the challenges that companies face in the digital age include meeting expectations of customers. Thanks to the smartphone and high internet speeds people can access everything and anything within seconds, due to this no one wants to wait in line and they expect companies to provide them services within limited time. Employee advocacy helps overcome this by proving information and services via social media within limited time.

Digital technology is not easy to use and not everyone is skilled enough to use it properly. To find someone and keep them as a long term employee is not easy to do due to the high demand. Employee advocacy allows for a company to train employees with the skills they require and allow them to take over the promotion for the company. This is cheaper than hiring a new employee and there is a guarantee of employee loyalty.