Employee advocacy is one of the most effective strategies to improve your public image and employee engagement.
Why? Because chances are that your staff are already discussing you on social media. Furthermore, half of all employees share content from or about their workplace on social media, while 33% do so without encouragement.
That is fantastic!
However, it is difficult to determine the results (both negative and positive) without having a content strategy in place.
A formal employee advocacy program can boost your organic reach by 200% and your profitability by 23%, among other benefits.
Continue reading to learn how to create an employee advocacy program that your staff will enjoy and help your business grow.
Employee advocacy is the promotion of a company by its employees.
It can manifest itself in a variety of ways, both online and offline. However, social media advocacy is the most prevalent and effective approach.
Generally, employees that share your company’s content on their personal social media profiles are referred to as social media advocates.
Social media advocacy generally includes everything from job ads to blog posts and industry information to new product launches.
Employee advocacy, on the other hand, can also be original content that provides insight into your corporate culture. Perhaps it can be an Instagram image from last Friday’s free lunch spread, a memorable event, or a scene from an ordinary workday.
All such activities will lead you to an improved image of your company for the public in general and potential clients and employees in particular.
According to a recent study, employee advocacy improves businesses in three ways:
- It boosts sales by increasing brand awareness and favorable opinions.
- It boosts employee recruitment, retention, and engagement.
- It aids in the management of public relations crises and challenges.
Increasing your organic reach is always beneficial. But don’t overlook the offline influence of employee advocacy.
It’s difficult to quantify specifics. But one study found a direct link between favorable social media posts by employees and improved word of mouth.
Why is employee advocacy so effective? Well, because it all comes down to trust.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to buy from a brand, trust is the most powerful tool. Additionally, people appreciate brand trust 88% more than they do its products or services (81%).
And most importantly, trust is at an all-time low in 2022: Almost two-thirds of individuals believe that social leaders, including CEOs and corporations, intentionally mislead the public.
But do you know who people believe? Ordinary folks like themselves.
93% of individuals believe brand information supplied by friends and family, while only 51% trust general social media posts, and 38% trust advertising.
Employee advocacy provides extra benefits to both your organization and employees, in addition to an average 1.4X increase in brand health:
A strong employee advocacy program can boost sales team efficiency. It also serves as an excellent foundation for social selling.
In addition to this, employees might also improve their reputation by establishing themselves as industry experts. Moreover, almost 86% of employees who participated in a structured advocacy program said it benefited their careers.
Step 1: Establish a positive, engaged workplace culture
It’s not surprising that a study found that happy employees are much more likely to become employee advocates.
The following are the two primary motivators for an employee to become an advocate:
- A good working relationship with the organization
- Internal communication strategy
It’s a win-win situation: Happy employees want to tell others about their firm, and those who tell others about their company are rewarded for it and become even happier. (The benefits of employee recognition and appreciation are covered here!)
But how can you foster a culture of engagement in the workplace?
According to Gallup research, a direct manager can influence up to 70% of an employee’s engagement level. After all, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” is true.
The following are the primary factors that influence engagement:
- A sense of purpose in the role and the company
- Opportunities for Professional Development
- A compassionate supervisor
- Reviewing strengths rather than weaknesses
- Ongoing feedback, not only during an annual review
Importantly, focus on assisting your executive and middle management executives’ leadership growth.
There’s a reason Google trains all of its business leaders’ communication techniques from Silicon Valley’s legendary “Trillion Dollar Coach,” Bill Campbell: it works.
Lastly, aside from increasing employee advocacy, establishing a pleasant environment to work in has many other advantages: According to research, engaged personnel increase profitability by 23%, customer loyalty by 10%, and productivity by 18%.
Step 2: Establish objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your employee advocacy campaign
As mentioned in the first step, one of the primary motivators for employees to share information about their company is internal communication.
However some employees may already be sharing, but many are unsure of what to contribute or why it is important to the firm.
Setting goals and sharing them with your staff removes misunderstanding while also providing measurable social media analytics to track success.
As for the goals, they could include generating more leads, attracting talent, raising brand exposure, or growing the share of voice.
Key performance indicators include the following:
Top contributors: Which individuals or groups are sharing the most? Which advocates are getting the most attention?
Organic reach: How many people are seeing the content published by your employee advocates organically?
Engagement: Are your advocates’ links being clicked, comments left, and content re-shared? What is the level of involvement by their network?
Brand sentiment: How has your advocacy campaign affected your overall brand sentiment on social media?
Importantly, if you create a company hashtag, keep note of how many times it is mentioned.
Giving your staff a hashtag to use can help with recruitment and brand sentiment goals by showcasing your company culture. It can also make employees feel more connected to the organization and to one another.
Step 3: Identify Employee Advocates
It’s tempting to name your executive team as the program’s leaders. Yes, they should be involved so they can model program adoption for the rest of your business and help promote sign-ups.
Nonetheless, they are not usually the true leaders of your social media advocacy effort.
Instead of focusing on titles or ranks, consider who organically uses social media:
- Who is using social media to build their own brand?
- Who naturally shares industry content?
- Who is the public face of your company, either in terms of their position or the amount of social media connections?
- Who is enthusiastic about your industry and the company?
Allow these individuals to contribute to the development of your employee advocacy program. Engage them in campaign and communication, goal setting, and incentive creation. Furthermore, they will assist you in determining which tools and resources staff are most likely to utilize and share.
Then, collaborate with your advocacy leaders to find prospective beta testers before releasing your program company-wide. They may provide honest criticism and help drive your employee advocacy plan.
When you first launch your employee advocacy campaign, you may notice a surge in social shares. However, without strong internal leadership, this excitement will fade over time. Therefore, employee advocacy leaders help ensure that advocacy remains a priority.
Step 4: Create Employee Social Media Guidelines
Employees must understand not only the message but also the best technique to express it. What language should they use? How often should they post? How should they reply to comments?
Additionally, two documents are required to address this:
a) Social media content policy: A “do’s and don’ts” list of what employees should and should not share on social media, topics to avoid (e.g., politics), answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ), and more.
b) Brand style guidelines: This is the visual guide, which includes how to utilize the corporate logo, any unique phrases or spelling your firm employs (e.g., WorkHub, not Workhub!)
Basically, guidelines, especially content guidelines, are not intended to control your staff to the extent that they stop posting anything for fear of being scrutinized or losing their jobs.
But you may eliminate that fear by clearly declaring what is off-limits yet allowing for true expression.
Clear guidelines also help to preserve your company’s brand reputation and eliminate security problems. And while some rules are obvious, such as not using profane or insulting language or revealing confidential information, other criteria may require the involvement of the legal department.
Additionally, make sure the rules are simple to understand and follow: It should not be a tedious 50-page text-only paper. Also, include visual examples as well as suggestions on what, where, and how to share. Lastly, include contact information for the head of your advocacy program as well, so employees know who to contact for more assistance if needed.
Step 5: Involve Your Staff In Your Approach
Once you’ve established your goals and guidelines, it’s important to reach out to staff. Inform them about your advocacy campaign and resources.
Of course, you should never force employees to distribute brand information on their own accounts, as it is not an effective technique to build trust. Remember that trust is essential for employees to become advocates.
It is suggested to include your employees in the creation of content. So, share your current social media strategy with them, and ask what forms of material would best represent your corporate culture and will align with the aims of your employee advocacy program.
Step 6: Create and Provide Important Resources to Employees
What is the true secret to encouraging your staff to share? Provide them with the content they require to either ease their workload or position them as an industry expert.
According to LinkedIn research, members who share advocacy content gain 600% more profile views and three times faster network growth.
Inquire with your employees about the questions their consumers are asking. If 10% of new leads ask a rather uninteresting accounting inquiry, accept it: it’s time to create an apparently boring yet effective piece of accounting content.
It may make you snore, but it’s worth it if it’s what your customers want.
Also, inquire if staff require specific resources for their daily tasks. It could be a one-page how-to manual, a one-minute video tour, or very short fifteen-second Instagram Reels to teach a new product feature or hack.
Moreover, your front-line employees understand what your customers want. So, make material that serves that purpose, and your staff will gladly share it.
Importantly, create and maintain a content library of these types of always-relevant resources for easy access by employees.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of a personalized message.
Pre-approved content is wonderful for easy sharing but allows your staff to add their own captions for an image or video upload as well (as long as they follow the guidelines).
Request employees to discuss their favorite feature of a new product or how a recent company policy benefited them.
Creating their own unique material can help them connect with their followers more. And this is significant since those followers know your employee better than your brand, at least for now.
Step 7: Recognize and reward employees for their advocacy
It’s only fair to offer something in exchange for what you’re asking of your workers. Therefore, educate staff on the advantages.
Tangible incentives, like gift cards or prizes, can make employees feel invested in the program.
Simply put, making your employee advocacy program turn into a reward-earning program can go a long way in making it successful.
We discussed in the first step how a rewards and recognition program could help make your workplace positive and engaging by making employees feel happier and more satisfied with the company.
A rewards and recognition program, as with its name, helps recognize and subsequently reward employees for their notable work. And this, as a result, makes employees happier and keeps them stay on track.
Using our very own Bravo, you can make employee advocacy programs become successful by leveraging its strong and effective functionality that helps make employees happier with the company. Consequently, you can leverage such employees to advocate your company to the world with or without social media.
You can book a demo to learn how Bravo provides substantial help in regard to the employee advocacy program.