What is Employee Advocacy? Benefits, Examples and Strategies
Employee advocacy is a trend you may be hearing a lot of lately. It applies to companies of all sizes and in all industries. This employee advocacy guide will explain to you what it is and how you can use it to your advantage to help you recruit the best candidates and boost sales.
What is Employee Advocacy?
In general terms, employee advocacy can be defined as a company employee acting as a spokesperson (advocate) for their employer’s brand. This role can be taken on by anyone working for the company. It does not have to be confined only to the marketing department.
What are the Types of Employee Advocacy?
When you think about the types of employee advocacy, consider what types of goals the company wants to accomplish with this strategy.
Finding New Customers. When employees of a company are excited about their contribution to the business and share it through different media, these actions may draw the interest of potential customers. Rather than start the process “cold,” these leads will already know something about the company and be interested in what it has to offer (“warm leads”).
Recruiting Quality Employees. Savvy businesses make a point of keeping workplace morale high among existing team members by using a variety of methods, including offering company events and employee perks (extra time off, flexible hours, tuition reimbursement, etc.). Encouraging employees to talk about these advantages of working for the company may encourage a stellar candidate to apply for an open position.
What are the Differences between Employee Advocacy, Social Advocacy, and Brand Advocacy?
Employee advocacy is when the people who work for a company take steps to promote their employer. These promotional efforts generally take place on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
Corporate social advocacy recognizes that a company can use its influence through the public, on social networks, and in its business operations to share its support for a social, environmental, or political cause. The messages are generated by the company itself.
Brand advocacy refers to someone (an employee, an influencer, or a customer) who shares a positive message about a product or a specific brand. The result of the message is word-of-mouth advertising about the brand to their network of followers on social media.
The difference between these three terms lies in where the message originates. Employee advocacy comes from messages shared by workers inside the company. They are talking about something good about their workplace. These are the kind of “feel-good” messages that can be shared with other team members and the public.
Examples of Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy can take on many forms. Some examples are as follows:
Companies encourage their employees to tweet about the culture at work. To encourage their team members to participate in the employee advocacy plan, a company can place employee names on a leaderboard with prizes offered at regular intervals.
Employees should be encouraged to share images with their followers as well as text. Remind your team to share their company swag (T-shirts, caps, water bottles, lanyards, etc.) so that prospective customers will see the company name and logo. They are much more likely to remember these details when the time comes to place an order if they are associated with something entertaining.
Company News or Blog posts are shared by the employees on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
LumApps Employee Advocacy Platform
Why Employee Advocacy is Important?
When you think about the importance of employee advocacy, what kind of ideas come to mind? This type of program offers a number of benefits to a company, such as:
Better Marketing Efforts
When looked at collectively, employees have, on average, social networks that reach ten times as many followers as a corporate brand. Introducing an employee advocacy program is an excellent way to expand the brand’s reach. The company is seen as more approachable if employees provide at least some content. Potential customers may even feel they “know” the people they will be dealing with before they even make contact with the company.
Many consumers are using social media as part of the process before they decide to buy a product or service. They make a point of researching a company online to get to know who they will be dealing with in advance. It is important to them that the company represents a trusted expert with the necessary skills and experience to help them solve their problem.
Salespeople who share content their prospects find interesting and educational are more likely to exceed the quota given to them by their sales manager.
Easier Time Attracting Great Candidates
To find outstanding job candidates, a company must distinguish itself from the pack in some manner. Employee advocacy allows job seekers to get to know something about the company before deciding to formally apply for an available position. The candidate is looking for a company that is a good fit for their skills and abilities based on their education and experience.
They are also seeking a workplace where their contribution will be appreciated. In other words, finding someone who will be a good fit for the workplace environment is just as important as screening candidates as to whether they can perform the duties of the job to be filled. These are the two prongs that make for a successful hire.
Employee Social Advocacy can help professionals build their own personal brand image.
5 Essential Steps to Building an Employee Advocacy Program
The following are five important steps to follow when introducing an employee advocacy program to your team:
1. Choose to make workplace culture a priority for your business.
Before you can begin any of the concrete steps to put a successful employee program in place, you need to ensure that your team members feel good about their jobs. This idea involves much more than ensuring that wages and benefits are competitive. One way to find out where you are meeting your employees’ expectations in workplace culture and if there are areas where you can improve is to conduct an anonymous survey. Employees are more likely to speak freely if they know their responses are confidential.
The survey should include a combination of direct questions and some space where employees can share their own thoughts. The following are some examples of survey questions:
Does the company demonstrate appropriate support to employees and their families who are experiencing personal difficulties? If not, what type of supports would you like to see the company put in place? (Be as specific as possible.)
Do you feel you have received adequate training to perform your job duties? Could you benefit from refresher training or specific customer service training?
Would you be interested in helping to support a specific charity through the company, either through a financial donation or volunteering?
2. Decide on the goals for the employee advocacy plan.
This is an important step in the process. If you don’t know what the program is supposed to accomplish, then you won’t have any way to determine if it is meeting those (or even exceeding) those goals.
In the planning stage, you may decide to have a couple of broad categories for your employee advocacy strategy: Finding New Customers and Attracting Top-notch Talent. Under these categories, you can add specific goals you want to reach, including a time frame for reaching them:
Generate X new sales leads per [month, quarter]
Hire X new employees per quarter
3. Let employees know about the plan.
Now that you have made your workplace culture a priority and selected the goals for the workplace advocacy program, it’s time to share the plan with your employees.
Start with a test group:
Marketers know that it pays to start a campaign by working in a smaller “test” market before doing a full-on launch. This strategy will work well when you want to introduce a change in the workplace too.
Make building employee advocacy voluntary:
Ensure that your employees understand that no one is required to participate and that no one will be penalized if they choose not to share any posts on social media.
Make employee advocacy fun:
Those who do participate in the program should receive some type of reward. One way to keep it fun is to allow each employee to enter their name into a draw every time they create a post with a specific hashtag. The employee is then eligible to win a prize, gift card, or a bonus.
4. Set up an employee advocacy social media policy.
Employees need to know how to communicate when posting on social media so that they make a good impression on behalf of the company. Make sure that everyone participating understands what type of language is considered appropriate.
Encourage employees to have fun, but remind them that their job duties must come first.
Be clear that the posts are coming from the employee. They are not making statements on behalf of the company in any manner.
Under no circumstances should employees be sharing confidential company information on social media.
If an employee is unsure whether they should post something, the post should be reviewed first by a manager or your legal department.
5. Put your employee advocacy program into effect.
The best time to launch a successful employee program is when you have something noteworthy to talk about, such as a major event, an award, or a new development in your industry. Employees can discuss company news quite naturally on their social media accounts, making employee advocacy part of their brand. Each person will have their own take on the newsworthy items going on in your company, which means there will be plenty for employees to talk about online.
10 Best Practices to Improve your Employee Advocacy Strategy
It’s not enough to introduce your employee advocacy strategy once and expect it to evolve from there. These best practices will help to ensure that it is successful for your business.
Offer employee advocacy training to all employees.
Everyone should be on board with the idea that they can participate in the employee advocacy program. All employees, from managers to administrative staff and those who work in the warehouse, should be offered training on the company’s employee advocacy program.
The program is something everyone has the potential to contribute to, and all voices are welcome.
Someone who is relatively quiet while on the job may be quite active online and have plenty to share with their online followers. Even someone who is new to social media has the potential to have a post go viral because of its content. Your employees do not have to be experts in social media to start participating.
Help employees by offering sharable content regularly.
Once your employees have some knowledge about social media and how it works, their next question is likely to be, “What should we be sharing on the company’s behalf?” Let your team know that they can share links to official press releases and company announcements with the internal employee advocacy tool. Start a company newsletter that includes a feature on an “Employee of the Month” or recognizes top performers in certain departments. These features can be included on social media as a way for potential customers and job seekers to get to know your company.
Show, don’t tell your employees how to be the kind of brand ambassadors you want for your company.
Ideally, top-level managers should be participating in your employee advocacy program as well as employees holding entry-level positions. You want to demonstrate to all team members that everyone is welcome to participate. Everyone’s social media posts are welcome, since all employees who decide to share something are helping to promote the company in a positive manner.
Find social media leaders within your company and ask them to help others.
Some people in your company will emerge as natural social media users. These are the people who you should approach to be leaders of your employee advocacy program. The people selected for this role should also be people who are prepared to post positive messages about the company and the brand.
This is a perfect opportunity for people who are already familiar with social media platforms to share their knowledge with those who are less comfortable with how these sites work.
Create opportunities within the company so that employees can interact with each other.
It’s important to keep workers engaged with their jobs and each other if you want to make your employee advocacy plan a success. To this end, come up with various opportunities where employees from different departments and at different levels can interact together informally. The results of these interactions can then form the basis for social media posts that employees can share with their own followers. Each person then becomes an ambassador for the company by telling their own story.
Give employees instructions about how to respond to concerns that may arise about the company.
Since employees will be sending out posts about the company on their social media accounts, they need to have some direction about what to do if they encounter some negative pushback about what they are sharing. Some of your workers may never have encountered an online troll before. In most cases, the best thing to do is not to engage with someone who is clearly looking for a fight and report the user to the online platform’s administrator.
Share your goals for the employee advocacy program with your employees.
You want your team members to be your partners in sharing positive messages about the company. Be clear about what you want their efforts to accomplish (if they decide to participate). There may be times during the year when you want to focus more on generating new leads for the company. At other times, your business may need to step up its recruiting efforts. Bring these goals to your employees’ attention so they find it easier to help.
Set guidelines for social media interaction on behalf of the company.
You want to reassure your employees that you trust them when they are sharing messages about the company on social media and that they can say what they want to about your brand. At the same time, messages being shared about the company should be in line with how the company wants to present itself publicly.
In today’s business world, consumers and job seekers are interested in a company that is transparent in its dealings. A post that portrays the company in a less-than-positive light would be considered inappropriate.
Establish a framework so that your employees’ social media efforts are linked to your employee advocacy strategy.
Your team members may need some help with their social media activities to ensure that they are connected to the strategy outlined in your overall employee advocacy plan. You may want to create specific hashtags to be used on Twitter to promote certain company events or promotions, and encourage your team members to use them on social media. All social media posts connected to that topic can be identified through the hashtag, making it easier to track your results.
Track the results of your employee advocacy plan.
It’s impossible to determine the success of a social media campaign unless the results are tracked. It’s important to make note of the number of leads generated, candidates who have applied for available positions, and whether website traffic has changed over a set period.
Based on your results, you will know which strategies are working well and which ones should be tweaked slightly or changed altogether for your next campaign. Your strategy should be flexible enough so that you can make adjustments where necessary when your figures show you that something is not working well for your business. When you see that the online community is responding favorably to something you are doing (they like certain forms of content or are more interested in particular topics), then it is an indication that you should follow up with more of the same so as long as your audience continues to be engaged.
How to Measure your Employee Advocacy Plan?
How can you tell whether your employee advocacy plan is working well for your business? There are some concrete ways you can measure whether it is working well for your company.
Are more employees participating in the advocacy plan over time or are your team members losing interest? Are the same people participating consistently? Are some employees participating occasionally and then losing interest?
If you could share with your employees the number of shares their posts are getting on social media, would that motivate them to continue participating in the employee advocacy plan? It might be helpful to share these figures with your employees so they know their contributions are making a difference.
This category focuses on your visibility online. Are more people viewing your company’s online content? Is it resulting in more click-throughs to your company website and blog? Ideally, you want to see your online audience growing and more people interacting with your brand online (sharing content, asking questions, and making comments about what they are seeing).
Sales Figures and New Hires
Since part of the reason for launching an employee advocacy plan is to boost sales, consider sharing the number of new sales generated by employees’ posts. These figures may give your employees encouragement to keep up their efforts and continue posting on the company’s behalf.
The same logic applies to the number of new hires. If your business has successfully added some great employees to its roster with the help of the posts your employees have made, then go ahead and share this information with your team. You’ll want them to keep up their efforts if it means you have been able to add people who are wonderful assets to your organization.
We hope you have found this guide to employee advocacy informative and helpful as you take the steps required to put a plan in place for your business.
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Brand Content Writer
May 7, 2020
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