When companies think of brand advocates, they usually consider external people. But some of the best cheerleaders of your brand can be your employees.
Employee advocacy is when an employee of the company acts as the spokesperson for their employer’s brand. It offers first-hand testimony of the company’s mission and values. It can enhance the company’s brand image, sales, marketing, talent acquisition, and other HR efforts if embraced properly.
Your employees handle the operations up close and know your business better than anyone. Hence, they can highlight your qualities more coherently than any strategically curated copy.
Through employee advocacy, your workforce provides an internal look into the company — something people can judge a brand by.
But how do you harness its immense potential to yield the best benefits? In today’s article, we will discuss how you can create and implement a successful employee advocacy program.
Key Areas of Focus for an Engaging Employee Advocacy Program
In this digital age, modern talents rely on the internet to look for their next job. Here, a strong employer brand can bring you the finest candidates.
Modern job seekers use social media and professional networks for their job search. When employees share brand content on their profiles and talk about their experiences positively, it encourages the top talents to join your company.
An employee advocacy program can be a great idea, even for the most traditional types of business. Chad Romey from Blackburn Romey, a big law firm from Indiana, says, “ we focus on creating an inviting and supportive work environment that appeals to potential paralegal candidates, including competitive salaries, benefits packages, and ongoing career development opportunities. We are proud of the paralegals we have been able to attract and retain due to our successful employer branding strategy, which has helped us provide our clients with the best legal representation possible in all areas of personal injury law.”
Companies can achieve that by creating a proper employee advocacy program. This way, they become the ambassadors of your employer brand and can endorse your company as a great place to work. Their validation holds much more credibility for aspiring candidates than any other advertisements.
Employees will only endorse their employer’s brand if they are happy and engaged in the workplace. A happy employee nurtures the workplace and is much easier to work with.
Focusing on employee advocacy can make your workers feel at home and equip them to thrive in their positions. You can avoid workplace conflicts more effectively, improve employee communications, and bring synergy. Your employee advocates nurturing your image to the outer world and creating a high-performance culture.
Darshan Somashekar, who runs the puzzle platform im-a-puzzle, explains, “Our employee engagement surveys not only help us gauge our company culture’s effectiveness but also serve as a key indicator of the level of employee advocacy we have within our organization. The higher the engagement score, the stronger the employee advocacy, and vice versa. It’s a testament to the power of fostering a positive workplace culture and its impact on employee morale, motivation, and brand representation.”
When customers see an employee as a brand’s spokesperson, they consider their opinion more authentic. You can increase brand awareness by encouraging employees to share your content on their social media accounts.
You can also maintain control over the narrative through pre-structured content. Your employees can amplify them and personalize individual details. Plus, you’re likely to reach 10x more people by sharing content via employees.
You need to make the most of your website and social media to drive more sales and outperform your competitors. A focused employee advocacy program can help you up your digital performance by shining a light on positive employee experiences.
To put things in perspective, sales reps who regularly share high-quality content on their socials are 45% more likely to exceed their target. This not only boosts their morale but also shortens the sales cycle, leading to greater efficiency.
Employee advocacy can increase brand awareness and credibility. When employees share information about the company, it is seen as more trustworthy than traditional advertising. Further, employee advocacy can lead to increased website traffic and lead generation. As employees share information about the company, they can link to its website, which can drive more traffic and leads.
Employee advocacy can even improve customer loyalty. When customers see a company’s employees are passionate about the company and its products or services, they are likely to become loyal customers. Finally, an employee advocacy program can improve employee engagement, customer service, and overall customer satisfaction.
Christian Belmont from Plixpay illustrates, “At Plixpay, we have found that employee advocacy is a powerful tool for increasing brand recognition and credibility. Our employees are often the first line of contact with potential customers, so having them share information about our company has been instrumental in driving more website traffic and leads. We’ve also seen customer loyalty rise as our employees demonstrate their enthusiasm for what we do.”
Steps to Start an Employee Advocacy Program
To help you show the way, here is a guide to creating an effective employee advocacy program:
1. Get stakeholder buy-in
The first step to building an employee advocacy program is getting the stakeholders on board.
Start the process by securing organizational buy-in from C-level executives. Convey how a focused employee advocacy program can enhance employee engagement and help streamline operations.
Present how satisfied employees are more productive and can deliver better customer experience.
Make it a point to communicate the importance of brand advocacy by shining light on the low up-front expenditure and boosted ROI.
By clearly communicating the benefits, you get the leadership’s assistance and will make implementing an employee advocacy program several times easier.
Besides, departments like HR, marketing, and internal communications may have important roles in your advocacy initiative. So, early on, involving them in the planning process will help you stay aligned with your goals.
2. Decide objectives and goals
One of the most important parts of creating any strategy is to understand what you want to achieve through it in the first place. To build a successful employee advocacy program, define your overarching goals. This will help you direct your efforts in the right direction and achieve desired outcomes.
For example, there will be times when your goal will be to build a strong talent acquisition structure through employee endorsements. In that case, you must prioritize channels where industry professionals look for jobs.
Similarly, if your primary goal is to enhance your marketing efforts, targeting the social media space is wise for the best results. On the other hand, to improve the sales pipeline, you need to merge a strong referral program with your employee advocacy initiatives.
Bring these goals to your employees’ attention so they can help accordingly.
3. Develop a strategy
Now that you have a clear idea of the path, it’s time to develop it into a smartly mapped-out strategy.
Before agreeing on a specific plan, bring finesse into your employee engagement plan.
Once you have the proper motivation, make your employees understand how employee advocacy will help them grow their professional network and advance their career development.
Include a clear social media policy in your employee advocacy strategy. Communicate company guidelines for online communication. This will help you avoid unforeseen outcomes and confusion among employees.
With well-defined do’s and don’ts, your workforce will feel more confident to share company-related content and participate in your employee advocacy program.
Give them suitable content according to the channels you choose. Consider involving your key employees in the content planning and creation process.
4. Implement the program
Once you get the basics out of the way, you are ready to launch your employee advocacy initiatives. Make sure you have a documented roadmap to follow. Check whether you have accounted for all the important elements so that harnessing the program becomes easier.
To ensure the program is well-executed, it’s essential to establish a system for measuring and tracking its progress. Create a system for managing and monitoring the program actively. This includes assigning roles and responsibilities, providing feedback and recognition for employees who participate, and ensuring the program runs smoothly.
5. Measure and tweak
No matter how much effort you put into the planning, the program may not reach its full potential immediately. Every strategy drives proper results after testing, measuring, and adjusting the steps involved.
Consider your goals and settle on how you will measure their success. Choose appropriate KPIs. Analyze your competitor’s employee advocacy strategy and create a benchmark. Keep track of metrics like participation of employees, social media reach, number of generated leads, sales figures, change in your follower base, etc.
Once you launch employee advocacy initiatives, examine the candidates applying for jobs in your company. Track website traffic and see whether employee endorsements brought any substantial improvements.
Based on your findings, you will know which parts of your employee advocacy strategy are working well and which areas need improvements.
For example, when you see your online community responding well to the content your employees share, you will know your plan is going in the right direction. If you don’t see substantial reach or talent acquisition improvements, it’s time to tweak your strategy.
Your employees humanize your brand. Your audience will trust the testimonials of your workers more than carefully curated advertisements.
Thus, employee advocacy is one of the best tools you have for showing off your culture and leveraging the human element of your company.
However, implementing a successful employee advocacy program doesn’t have a paved road. You have to get buy-in from all the stakeholders and build a plan that aligns with your goals. You need to invest in employee upskilling and provide them with content they will be proud to share.
With a systematic approach, you can bring the finest talents to your company, enhance your marketing efforts, drive increased ROI, and sustain it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What are the goals of employee advocacy?
Ans. The goals of employee advocacy can vary depending on the organization’s specific objectives, but some common goals include:
- Building brand awareness: Employee advocacy programs can help increase brand awareness by leveraging the social networks of employees to share company content, news, and updates with their own connections.
- Increasing employee engagement: By involving employees in the company’s marketing and branding efforts, employee advocacy programs can help improve employee engagement and morale, as employees feel more connected to the company’s mission and purpose.
- Generating leads and sales: Employee advocacy can also help drive leads and sales by expanding the reach of the company’s marketing messages and driving traffic to the company’s website or other online channels.
- Building thought leadership: Employee advocacy can help position the company and its employees as thought leaders in their respective industries by sharing valuable content, insights, and expertise.
- Improving customer relationships: Employee advocacy can also help improve customer relationships by providing a more personal and authentic connection between customers and the company, as they interact with individual employees who represent the company.
Q2. Why is employee advocacy important for employees?
Ans. Employee advocacy is not only important for businesses, but also for employees themselves. By participating in an employee advocacy program, employees can become more engaged with their employer, build their personal brand, and grow their professional network. Additionally, by sharing positive information about their employer, employees can help attract top talent to the company and contribute to the overall success of the business. Plus, employee advocacy can be a fun and rewarding way for employees to connect with their colleagues and share their unique perspectives and experiences. So, if you’re an employee looking to take your career to the next level, consider getting involved in your employer’s employee advocacy program!
Author: Mehdi Hussen
Mehdi Hussen is a SaaS marketing and organic growth consultant. He helps SaaS businesses drive organic growth and customer acquisition through SEO and data-driven content marketing strategies. Mehdi spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, personal productivity, and remote work. Connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn.
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