Some of the best advocates for your brand can be your own employees. Oftentimes, when people think about brand advocates, they may think of external people, such as social media influencers. While this may be true, consider this: your employees know your company inside out and can lend a unique voice to your brand’s reputation.
Employee advocacy has a lot of benefits for both the company and the employee. Chances are that your employees are already on social media and talking about their work. Why not harness that into a thoughtful employee advocacy program that gives a win-win to everyone involved?
What is employee advocacy?
Employee advocacy is the promotion of a brand or company that an individual works at.
A good employee advocacy strategy will enable your employees to:
- Amplify company messages and promotions, which increases brand awareness
- Positively share about their experiences and work life, offering an “inside look”
- Act as an expert and recommend the company’s products and services to friends and family
Types of employee advocacy
There are a few ways that employees can become advocates. Some don’t even require a formal program and might already be in action in your company.
Company swag & merch
Sending out swag and merch is a classic technique for enabling your employees to get the word out. While it predates social media, posts sharing swag on social media are common and another great way for employees to highlight company culture.
Useful and well-designed swag are always hits with employees. Put on a branded cozy sweatshirt or slap a cute branded sticker on your laptop cover and you’re instantly, subtly promoting that company.
Internal incentives & recognition
Happy employees naturally become brand advocates. Which means that your company culture and workplace environment need to be set up in a way that celebrates accomplishments, privately and/or publicly.
One classic example of this is an employee of the month program, where a valued employee receives public recognition and sometimes, monetary compensation or some other reward. Employee recognition software programs also exist where anyone can send out compliments or rewards to others within the company. Even starting small, such as setting aside some time in a meeting for recognition, is a step towards more effective employee advocacy.
Social media advocacy
Social media has become a valuable component to a successful employee advocacy program. Social media advocacy is when the employee posts about the company in a positive way on their personal accounts. Coordinating an effective social media advocacy strategy can involve more work than the other two types, but it can also have a high ROI.
In a recent Edelman study of consumer trust, 63% of 18-34 year olds surveyed trust what influencers say about brands more than the brands themselves. When both your customers and your employees are already on social media, it makes sense to utilize this channel for advocacy.
Benefits of employee advocacy
Both the company and employee win in the right employee advocacy scenario.
The benefits of a program crosses multiple departments:
- Increased brand awareness for marketing
- Wider personal network for sales
- Positive workplace environment for recruiting and HR
- Subject-matter expertise for industry thought leadership
Benefits for the company & brand
Having an employee advocacy program in place offers many benefits for the company and can be used in conjunction with an employer branding program.
- Increases brand awareness reach. One study found that company branded messages had a 561% reach when shared by employees compared to branded channels. Think of it as another way to organically grow your brand.
- Improves employee performance. The same study also found that companies that had high employee engagement outperformed those with no engagement by 202%.
- Maintain control over brand messaging. When you have a formal program in place, content is provided for your employees to redistribute out. The important core parts of brand messaging can be retained while employees are encouraged to personalize individual details.
- Drives more qualified leads. When employees post positively about their workplace and company culture, others passively absorb this information. It’ll be easier for recruiters to find more people who are already knowledgeable about the company and are interested in working there or doing business as customers.
Benefits for the employee
Because a large part of this program involves continuous execution from the employees, the benefits need to be substantial. Luckily, they are.
- Easy, ready content to use. When you provide the links and copy that can be used for social media, employees can either use it as-is and save time, or add a personal touch if they prefer to be more active on social with their own voice. Neither takes that much time, making it easy for someone to post.
- Helpful for those who aren’t social media power users. Some people aren’t on social media all the time but still want to be an advocate. They might feel hesitant at posting, which is why having available content is great for them. In addition, the more they post, the more familiar and comfortable they feel with using social media.
- Establishes thought leadership. A recent study with B2B decision-makers on their perception of thought leadership found that 89% of them say it has enhanced their perceptions of an organization. Branded content is not the only content that can be shared. Articles within your industry, when shared with commentary by employees, helps establish them as a knowledgeable person in the field.
- Networking opportunities. Posting on social media naturally creates networking opportunities. The more you interact with others, the more connected they feel to you.
Tips for launching an employee advocacy program
If you’re starting from scratch, it might seem overwhelming to set up your own employee advocacy program. That’s why created a checklist to take you through setting up an employee advocacy program step by step.