How do you see your employees? As people who work for you – or as an invaluable asset that can amp up your company’s marketing and reach to a whole new level? Introducing…Employee Advocacy.
Employee advocacy is the promotion of an organisation by its staff members. According to Wikipedia, an employee advocate is someone, who:
• Recommends a company’s products or services to a friend or family member;
• Represents the best interests of the company both internally and externally;
• Can help build employee ownership of the organisation; and
• Is an expert on your product or service and can be a credible spokesperson for your company.
The most effective form of employee advocacy happens online. Usually on social media, but also on email, chat, forums, discussion boards and more.
What makes employee advocacy matter?
Through your employees’ social media networks, your company can reach people in ways and on platforms your brand can’t – and probably even shouldn’t. It’s not effective to produce content for every possible social media platform, but your employees might already have a presence there. Another thing affecting the reach is that social media platform algorithms tend to favour unbranded content. Branded messaging doesn’t rank as high on people’s feeds as content coming from a friend.
Which do you trust more – a social media post from a brand telling you how great they are, or someone in your own network sharing a fun experience? Someone you know, of course. A human. The influence of an employee advocate outweighs any message your company can put out!
Sold yet? Well, here are some things to consider when getting started:
Make sure to maintain a company culture of openness and trust
It’s important your employees feel their ideas and concerns are truly listened to. Advocacy can’t be forced – it comes from true passion, and trust motivates shares better than anything else. Show trust in your employees and give them the freedom to express themselves the way they need to. When people have a genuine freedom to be your advocate and to share content freely, the authenticity translates to the messages which are, in turn, trusted within their own networks.
For you to know what works and what doesn’t, you need to know what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to measure it. You can use your existing KPI’s and marketing objectives as a base if you have them.
Ask yourself three questions:
1. Who do I want to reach? Certain groups, exciting customers, new customers?
2. What do I want to accomplish? More followers, a certain perception, more shares?
3. How can I measure it and what’s my goal?
Set up policies and best practices
Being an advocate and sharing a brand’s material is voluntary for employees, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any say on the matter. Set up clear rules and guidelines for people so they know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Don’t make the rules too strict. Rather, they should be encouraging and enable sharing. Since the world of social media changes rapidly, be prepared to visit the policies often, to keep them up to date. And remember to offer adequate support for your advocates, so they always know who to turn to for guidance and advice when they need it. mwah. has a social squad who meets weekly.
When you’ve thought about what you’d like your employees to share, think about how to make the content relevant for them. If the material doesn’t resonate with your employees and their followers, it won’t be shared. Make sure to diversify your content so everyone can have their pick. In addition to supporting your brand, the content needs to bring value to your advocates and their networks, making your employees look good sharing it.
There are a heap of tools available to help you make the most of employee advocacy. Of course, you don’t have to use tools to succeed – just make sure you have your goals set and ways of measuring performance established. But like in other areas of your business, the right tool makes the work easier. These come in different shapes and sizes: some are designed to help you share and distribute content, some are more concentrated on making the advocacy a more fun and rewarding experience through gamification. Find the best tool for you by going back to your original goals and deciding on the features that are most important to you.
Here are a few you can look into:
- Advocate (addvocate.com)
- Circulate.it (circulate.it)
- Command Post (getcommandpost.com)
- Dynamic Signal (dynamicsignal.com)
- Everyone Social (everyonesocial.com)
- People Linx (peoplelinx.com)
- Social Chorus (socialchorus.com)
- Socialook (socialook.net)
- Sprinklr (sprinklr.com)
- Voicestorm (voicestorm.com)
Make it worth it
As stated before, if your employees don’t find the advocacy valuable in some way, it’s most likely not going to happen. In addition to perks, prizes and praise, consider empowering them to be your ’experts on wheels’. Make them insiders, giving them access to information others don’t have, and when it comes to your brand, the power to be useful to their networks.
Be sure to measure
Measuring advocacy is important so you can keep tabs on what works and what doesn’t – in rewarding content, as well as the processes and policies you’ve set up. And when you’ve tracked your performance, be transparent and share the outcomes with your advocates. That way, they know the impact they’re making, they can see how well their efforts fit into the overall plan, and they can learn from what’s worked and what hasn’t – and adjust accordingly.
Always decide first what metrics are relevant for you before you start measuring. Here are a few examples of what you could be tracking:
- Traffic driven
- Demographics change
- Impact of advocacy
- Employee conversion rate
- Employee activity
- Employee influence
- Sentiment change
- Sales and ROI
You can calculate the ROI of employee advocacy by making these metrics a part of your existing sales metrics.
Employee advocacy takes time and there is no magic bullet. To work, it requires time, effort and dedication from the organisation as a whole. However, given the current media climate where we are all constantly bombarded with different kinds of messages and information, employee advocacy is one of the most effective ways your company can get its content shared and attract the attention it deserves.
To learn more, sign up for one of our Facebook live seminars!
Download our social media guidelines for employees and our metric conversion chart.
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