You may be wondering what an employee advocacy program is and whether you should start one. The answer is yes, you should.
What Is an Employee Advocacy Program?
An employee advocacy program encourages employees to promote your business through social media sharing and engagement of company content. Your employees have 10 times the reach on social that your brand accounts have. Think about that: 10 times the reach of the accounts that you pour the most time and money into cultivating!
Your employees’ social media profiles also wield valuable influence. One reason is that many of them will use social platforms that your brand does not, so they have access to followers you don’t. Second, their content is perceived as three times more authentic than branded marketing material. Consumers use social media to do research before making purchases, and potential hires use social media to research companies’ potential as an employer. Eighty-three percent of consumers value family and friends’ recommendations over any other kind of advertising. That’s because people trust other people more than they trust brands, so using an employee advocacy program offers an effective digital tactic to harness your workforce’s own enthusiasm and network to increase organic brand awareness among potential customers and build an authentic online community.
Employee advocacy involves curating brand content for employees to share on their social networks. When you write posts about products, provide content that gives a look inside the company, content that announces awards and promotes webinars, and provide incentives for employees to share that content on social. But don’t limit yourself to a top-down approach. Employees’ own content is just as important.
Employees’ conversations on social are the digital equivalent of someone recommending a business over dinner: “Wow, you have to try this new craft cocktail spot downtown.” They’re the online equivalent of sharing a story at a party about a wonderful experience you recently had: “This company came to our house, installed the composite deck for us, and it’s the best big house purchase we’ve ever made.” On social, people share pics of everything from their new roof racks and coffee makers to new shoes. On social, consumers watch and listen. While they lurk, they form ideas about your company. When done well, employee advocacy programs can build the kind of grassroots endorsement network that generates leads and converts online conversations to actual sales. The source of employee advocacy’s power: Employee endorsements seem natural.
Put another way: Employee advocacy is organic brand promotion. When your staff gets excited, when they believe in your company and use your products or services, they can share that positive experience to create brand awareness and new customers. Whether it’s humblebragging about seeing new products in development or raving about your company’s exciting, innovative work culture, online advocacy shapes public perception and builds your reputation in a way that customers see.
Here Are 6 Simple Steps to Launch and Maintain an Employee Advocacy Program:
1. Identify Your Employee Advocates
Build excitement with a lunch-and-learn session or informational meeting to spread the word. Enthusiasm is the fire that powers advocacy. You must provide the fuel.
2. Set Specific, Measurable Goals
What is the desired outcome of implementing this program? Ask your employees to help set the goals to get them invested. Once you have your clear objectives, benchmark each KPI so you can evaluate your success:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Higher engagement rates
- More reach
- Improving overall marketing strategy
- Increasing leads or sales
3. Create a Content Strategy
Use your employees’ creativity to help find and craft content that is relatable to them and their social networks. Use a mix of corporate content and local store content relevant to your brand. Providing content is key to program adoption. Spotlight those employees on their birthday or work anniversaries. Make it fun. Make them feel seen.
4. Provide Proper Training
Some employees may not be very familiar with personal branding tactics on social media. Make it fun and get creative. Host Facebook or Instagram Live Q&As, webinars, and workshops. Provide employees with the confidence and resources they need to advocate for your brand on social and position themselves as experts.
5. Test, Learn, and Optimize
Don’t forget to ask your employees for feedback, and stay open to suggested improvements! Pay attention to posts with high engagement then study their format — their length, style, day and time, and creative assets used — and recycle it. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. It’s also an effective way to create reproducible results without reinventing the wheel.
6. Measure Your Performance
Prove your program’s value. Regularly track and report on your original KPIs. Measure employee adoption and how frequently they share your content. Finally, measure your ROI. How much money did you save on ads, recruiting, and impressions? That can paint a very telling portrait of how effective that employee advocacy programs are compared to traditional marketing tactics. After all, we do live in the age of social media. If you want to beat the competition, you have to get people talking. They talk on social.
Bolster Your Brand With an Employee Advocacy Program
So harness employees’ enthusiasms. Offer them content, and empower their voices. Start an employee advocacy program. Everyone wins.