Bridging the gap between your business and customers can often feel like trudging through mud.
I’ve certainly given myself headaches trying to communicate different brands I’ve managed to customers and potential employees. Employee advocacy is a new trend in management that can change the game, though — headaches no more.
I’ve worked in management for decades and have found this route to be one of the most effective ways to strengthen your brand, whether you run a small business or an enterprise.
If you have a reliable and bright team of employees, this advocacy guide could help you grow your company to everyone’s benefit.
Let’s get started!
What Is Employee Advocacy?
Generally speaking, employee advocacy refers to when an employee acts as a spokesperson for their company. It’s when employees go out of their way to promote their employer. This type of advocacy can include or expand beyond the scope of pure marketing.
There are many different ways that employee advocacy can manifest. For example, employee advocacy could be an employee sharing something business-related that they’re excited about on social media. If people are interested, that introduces your company to a new set of “warm leads” or potential customers.
Alternatively, employee advocacy can be a way of recruiting new employees. If your workplace morale is high, it’s more likely that your employees will discuss these advantages with friends, family, and acquaintances either in-person or on social media. This type of advocacy could encourage others to apply for open positions.
Some companies give employee advocates specific roles, like social media advocate. Doing so can make it easier to measure the success of their advocacy and decide if it’s the best route.
Another great way to encourage employee advocacy is by sending out merch and company swag to your employees. Whether or not your employees post about their new merch, they will likely wear it. This can spark conversations and spread the word in a unique way.
So, to summarize, employees partaking in employee advocacy can create three significant effects:
- Increase brand awareness
- Offer an inside look at the positive aspect and dynamics of your workplace
- Make recommendations to friends and family about your company’s services and products
Remember: employee advocacy only works if your employees feel genuinely cared for and respected. Make sure to keep employee morale boosted if you want them to advocate for you.
What better way to spread the word about your company and create positive connotations than encouraging happy employees to share what they love about it? They know it best!
What is the Purpose of Employee Advocacy?
In the previous section, I named three general effects of employee advocacy. But what outcomes can you expect to see on a business basis?
Successful employee advocacy can create serious benefits for your company. Keep reading to find out why you should try it.
Better Marketing Efforts
Employee advocacy can be a great way to increase and improve marketing efforts.
Your employees may already have an audience that is interested in what you offer, even if it’s just because they care about your employee. Their reason for being curious doesn’t matter as long as they’re listening!
As such, having your employees share their enthusiasm for the company or any upcoming projects or promotions can reach a targeted group of people already interested in your products and services. A personal connection with someone involved will make them more likely to pursue the company.
Furthermore, having multiple voices advocating for your brand on social media can make it easier for customers to trust what you are selling. People are likelier to trust something if they hear it from multiple sources, so having a team of people speaking on your behalf can be very powerful in persuading potential customers.
Plus, it’s not every day that you witness employees boasting about how much they love their job — it’s usually the opposite. This is a major reason why employee advocacy turns heads.
The combination of these factors makes employee advocacy an invaluable asset in any marketing strategy. What better way to share the good word about your company than having people that genuinely believe in it?
Better Company Culture
Creating an environment that encourages employee advocacy will necessarily improve your company’s culture because it will require increased employee morale. When you have passionate employees, they will be more likely to act as advocates and share what they love with others.
This type of advocacy can also create an environment of mutual respect and camaraderie within the workplace. People who are passionate about their jobs will naturally be more invested in the company, which can result in better productivity and an overall increase in positivity.
It’s also a great way to engage your employees and make them feel appreciated for their work. For example, if an employee problem-solves an arduous task or experiences another kind of accomplishment, you can encourage them to share it on social media. Posting about it is both a form of employee advocacy and a way to celebrate their success.
Another great way to use company culture to encourage advocacy is through internal incentives like an employee of the month award. This is an excellent avenue for motivating your employees.
In any case, employee well-being is important if you want to have a successful company. One way to pay attention to employee morale is through improving your office environment, which can increase employee productivity as well.
Increased Employee Productivity
The result of improved company culture? Increased productivity.
When people feel happier and more connected with the work they do, it’s natural for their productivity to increase. If your employees are passionate about their work and content with their workplace, they will be more likely to put forth greater effort into their tasks.
Plus, having a team of advocates can create an atmosphere of collaboration and competition. This can lead to each employee pushing themselves harder, as they will want to ensure their efforts are seen and heard by the rest of the team.
Increased Employee Retention
Because employee advocacy requires an overall positive atmosphere in the workplace, it can also increase employee retention. People will be less likely to leave a company when they feel their voices are being heard and their work is valued.
It’s important that you take into account the individuals in your company. Each employee will have different interests and, therefore, will want to share different content. A good social media management platform will segment posts by topics, making filtering and finding the most compelling content easier. It can also give you performance metrics, which will help you identify individual advocates and motivate the team further with a little friendly competition.
Let’s be honest: the ultimate goal of any marketing strategy is to increase sales, and employee advocacy can be a powerful tool in achieving this.
Your employees can share information about your company’s products or services with their network, creating more interest in what you offer. This type of content will also have a more personal feel than if coming from the company itself, making potential customers more likely to trust what you are saying.
In addition, employee advocacy can help build brand loyalty over time. When people see someone they recognize posting about your products or services regularly, they will be more likely to remember you when they need something in the future.
Ultimately, employee advocacy helps create relationships with potential customers and boosts workplace morale, leading to increased productivity and retention.
Employee Advocacy Vs. Social Advocacy Vs. Brand Advocacy
You may have heard these variations of “advocacy” thrown around, but what do they really mean?
Employee advocacy, as I’ve been discussing, involves company employees taking steps to promote their employer. These efforts usually appear on social media platforms like Instagram and Linkedin.
Employee advocacy directly results from improved company culture and, in most cases, increased sales and business popularity.
Social advocacy is work done by a corporation or company to use its influence to improve the world. This is done by leveraging influence to support social, environmental, and political causes.
These messages should be generated directly from the company rather than an employee or CEO. It has large-scale positive effects and the potential to strengthen a company’s brand.
Brand advocacy is similar to employee advocacy but has its differences.
Brand advocacy occurs anytime an employee, influencer, or regular customer shares a positive insight about a company’s brand or product. It’s an effective type of word-of-mouth advertising. Sharing hype about a brand allows listeners to discover why they should choose that specific source above others.
Both employee advocacy and social advocacy can contribute to brand advocacy. A potential customer may discover a company through employee advocacy, then find that their values align with the company. The combination of the two can create loyalty and brand advocacy.
What is the Role of HR in Employee Advocacy?
HR plays an essential role in employee advocacy. They’re the source of many efforts for improving office morale, which, as we discussed, is vital for successful advocacy.
HR should encourage employees to speak up about their work and mission. This means providing them with a safe space to share their opinions, as well as ensuring that those opinions are respected and taken seriously by the organization.
It’s great when businesses make positive initiatives to improve employee morale, but often, it’s better to offer a place for employees to make requests. That way, the efforts from the company won’t seem tone-deaf and irrelevant. This is where HR comes in.
HR is a middleman between employees and the company, looking out for both. As such, HR has the company’s back as well.
HR must ensure employees understand what is acceptable when sharing content on social media. While employees need to be able to express themselves openly, some boundaries need to be followed for the company’s reputation to not be damaged.
Finally, HR can track who posts what and how often. This will give insight into which employees have become brand advocates and how they can be best supported.
HR are the ones who make it possible for employees to feel comfortable expressing themselves and show their support for the company’s mission. Without them, employee advocacy would likely flop. So make sure you give them their due credit!
What is an Example of Employee Advocacy?
Now that you better understand the potential benefits of employee advocacy, here are some concrete efforts you can use to encourage employees to advocate for your company.
Employee Spotlight & Shoutouts
Employees can highlight other employees’ accomplishments, or their own, on social media. Whether it’s a shoutout for an employee of the month or a spotlight on a team member’s success, this is a straightforward way to show off your company culture and reward individual achievement, opening the door for more employee advocacy.
Encourage employees to share company news with their network. This could mean retweeting official announcements from the company account or posting about new product updates. This helps spread positive information about the brand and informs people about its progress.
It also shows that your employees are happy to work there, making people trust and respect your company more. From there, you’re beginning to experience the potential for a very cool domino effect.
Participate in Industry Discussions
Invite employees to join industry discussions online and voice their expertise. What better way to demonstrate that your company has strong talent than by having them be active contributors?
Not to mention that it’s a great way of showing off brand expertise and building relationships with other industry professionals and potential customers.
Employee Recognition on the Website
This suggestion and the following two tips will likely be best led by your HR department. This is because they work closely with employees to understand their individual differences and can tailor their recognition according to that.
With that said, another great way to get your team members involved in advocacy is by recognizing them on the company website. Acknowledging their successes, such as awards or certifications, leaves an impression of loyalty and commitment that people are bound to notice.
After all, even if these recognitions aren’t given a broad audience, it’s still a way for employees to show off what they have achieved with the company. It’ll also likely create a warmer and more positive feeling toward the company, which could encourage employees to work harder and advocate more thoroughly.
Everybody loves gifts. So why not use them in your advocacy strategy?
Rewards are a highly effective way to ensure steady employee advocacy. Acknowledging those who go above and beyond for the company, whether by giving them time off or some kind of incentive, will have all sorts of positive effects.
Firstly, it’ll encourage other employees to do the same, creating a potential domino effect of company promotion. Next, the celebrated employee is likely to share their rewards on social media if they use it, which is a form of advocacy. Talk about a win-win for the company and the individual.
It’s an effective way to show appreciation and encourage further loyalty toward the company. Odds are, a paycheck bonus will have a larger payoff for the company culture and future.
Employee Blog Posts
It’s not just about the big recognitions. What employees write on their blogs can also have a great effect.
Encouraging employees to write blog posts about their day-to-day experience will show off the company culture, how the team works together, and, most of all, what it is like to work there. This will help create trust between potential customers and your company because they can truly understand who you are when they read these stories.
This is also a great way to make sure that your content strategy is varied and exciting; after all, everyone has different perspectives, skill sets, and writing styles. It adds a more personal touch that anyone can benefit from in some way. Plus, it’s a great way to drive organic traffic to your website.
Sharing Company Success
Sharing company success is a great way to encourage employee advocacy.
Always share the number of new sales or leads generated from their posts. This will serve as an incentive for employees who want to assist in bettering your business and ensure that they continue promoting it on social media platforms. The data collected could be used to add further support and motivation while encouraging a culture built around transparency, innovation, and collaboration.
If your business has recently welcomed new employees due to employee advocacy, share this news with them as well. This positive reinforcement will encourage everyone to continue their hard work.
How Do You Build an Employee Advocacy Program?
So, what are the first concrete steps you should take to create more employee advocacy within your company? This is called an employee advocacy program. An organized plan will make achieving the advocacy you’re looking for much more manageable.
Step 1: Start With Employee Advocacy Goals
First and foremost, you should start by defining what you expect from your employee advocacy program. What do you hope to achieve? What are the measurable goals that you have in mind? Once these questions are answered, it’ll be easier to map out a strategy.
Discuss these goals with HR; this will be an involved department, and the members should be on the same page. They can also provide additional ideas for how to accomplish your goals.
Step 2: Establish Clear Policies
The next step is to create clear policies around the activities expected of your employees. What language can they use? What platforms will they be active on? What kind of content can they post?
This will help ensure that the manifestation of these policies is as desired and that there are no misunderstandings further down the line. It’ll also help protect both employees and customers from any potential legal issues or controversies resulting from employee advocacy. And it’ll help to build trust between employees and other stakeholders, like customers and partners.
Step 3: Choose to Make Employee Advocacy a Priority
If you want to build a successful employee advocacy program, you must make it a priority in your company. This means dedicating genuine resources and energy to the project and ensuring it is embedded into your other marketing efforts.
The rewards of having an engaged team who are passionate about their job, the company, and its mission are more than worth it. Moreover, this kind of employee investment is a sign of commitment from the co-founders and managers, which will help build morale.
Step 4: Talk with Employees about the Plan
Now that you’ve secured your vision for an employee advocacy program, it’s time to reveal it to your employees. I’d recommend opening up the topic for discussion and allowing them to contribute ideas since most of the heavy lifting of the program will be left to them. Of course, though, different tactics work for different companies.
Nevertheless, a surefire way to emphasize the seriousness of your goal is to have a sit-down meeting with your employees to discuss the benefits of them advocating for the company. Inform them of HR’s role in the program, as well as how advocating can improve their lives — not just that of your business.
Step 5: Provide Training
Once the policies are in place, it’s time to provide your employees with the training they need to start their advocacy activities. This includes teaching them how to use new platforms or technology and providing tips for creating engaging content that resonates with their audiences.
It’s also important to ensure employees understand the importance of being sensitive to specific topics and cultures when engaging on social media. Finally, once the training is completed, ensure you have a system where your team can ask questions and provide feedback on their experiences with the advocacy program.
With these steps completed, you should be ready to embark on your new employee advocacy program. Time to launch!
This article has been a comprehensive overview of employee advocacy: what it means, the benefits it offers, and strategies you can harness to make it a part of your marketing toolbox.
Employee advocacy can be an essential and powerful tool for any business. But remember: increased sales and company promotion are the result of this process. You’ll only achieve them by creating an environment that employees want to advocate.
From recognition on the company website to employee rewards, there are so many ways employees can be encouraged to help spread the word about their company positively.
I wish you the best of luck in undergoing this process. If you have any questions or additional tips, please comment below!
Until next time, and thanks for reading.