Employees understand the company culture and experience better than anyone. With many already posting positively about their work online, employee advocacy programs provide an effective strategy to boost brand awareness and reputation on social media and sites like Glassdoor and Indeed.
Here, we’ll go over what employee advocacy is, its benefits, and how you can use it to turn your employees into social media brand ambassadors.
What is employee advocacy?
Employee advocacy is when a brand or business is promoted by the people who work there. It could mean sharing details about company culture, products, initiatives, or employment experiences. It’s a form of digital PR that leverages online media to amplify brand messaging.
Think Glassdoor reviews. The best way to improve Glassdoor reviews is for your employees to advocate for you.
In advocacy programs, employees become brand ambassadors. For example, an employee giving a video tour of a company gaming area used for breaks or taking a selfie in work clothes.
While these activities seem normal, they promote the business to potential customers and recruits, boosting company reputation and brand awareness. Therefore, employee advocacy can breed an army of brand ambassadors that can increase business success.
Advocacy isn't a defined job within a business. While incentives attract and encourage employees to become ambassadors, they aren't paid to promote the business.
For advocacy to work well, employees need to be passionate about their job and willing to post about that passion online. It involves establishing a great work culture and providing your workers with vibrant content and messages to share with their followers.
63% of people trust influencers more than brands. With a workforce ripe with potential influencers for your business, it provides an opportunity for increased sales and growth.
Benefits of employee advocacy
Employee advocacy has several advantages for businesses. A recent study found three key advantages for companies:
- Positive impact on company growth and sales
- Positive impacts on talent acquisition, employee retention, engagement, and productivity
- Improvement in an organization’s reputation and plays an important role in issue management
In essence, it allows you to increase brand awareness, maintain control over your message, improve employee performances, and generate more qualified leads. As people see your brand passively online, they’re more likely to engage, either through purchasing or recruitment.
Therefore, employee advocacy goes further than just brand awareness. It can give your company an edge in a hotly contested recruitment world and drive conversions. People check a company's star-rating and reviews online before they even apply and they do it on sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed.
Employees benefit from becoming advocates, too, through building a personal brand to increase their profile, as well as gaining:
- Increased networking opportunities
- New skills and knowledge
- Ready-made content for social media
- Greater appreciation
How to turn employees into social media ambassadors
Define goals and measure success
Setting clear and measurable goals is how businesses achieve success.
For example, your goal might be for your brand ambassadors to get 1,000 likes each week with brand content. You can measure this by tracking the likes across social media platforms.
Defining your goal lets you know which KPIs and metrics to track and measure. It highlights which posts and employees are performing best. It allows you to measure your brand reputation and see its worth. This assists in improving employee advocacy to better engage and further promote your brand.
Create the right culture
If your employees don’t enjoy coming to work, they’re not posting positively about it online. Therefore, creating an engaging, positive workplace culture should be at the top of your agenda.
Using anonymous employee surveys is a good way to understand the issues that plague your employees, and build a foundation to enhance working environments.
From here, look to improve the way your workplace operates and invest in policies that make your employees passionate about working there.
73% of employees believe that a company can increase profits and improve the conditions of the communities where it operates. Looking at ways you can make a social impact could improve the workplace for your employees.
For example, offering volunteer days or getting involved with local community groups will show you have more than just your bottom line in mind. Additionally, it makes your employees proud to work for you, furthering the possibility of becoming brand ambassadors.
Other ways you can create a better employee culture include:
- Offering mental health days
- Recognizing employee efforts
- Starting a program to reduce environmental impacts
- Partnering with social impact groups or charities
- Holding company social events
Proactively look for potential brand ambassadors for your employee advocacy program. They could be engaged employees or workers that already post positively about the company on social media.
They must be enthusiastic and passionate about working in your business, and happy to post about it online.
Some employees prefer to keep their work and personal life separate, while others use social media as an outlet, not a brand. Don’t try to convince or force someone into becoming a brand ambassador, or their next post could undo all that you’re trying to do.
Provide advocacy training
Your employees are likely not social media professionals. They’ve probably never even heard the term employee advocacy until you brought it up. So, providing your employees with advocacy training assures them they can succeed, and helps your business flourish.
Such training involves going over social media and making them aware of all the features available. Helping them refine their online profiles will also make them feel comfortable about posting online.
Additionally, go over what a brand ambassador is and answer any employee questions. If you're investing in software platforms to streamline the process, make sure your employees are comfortable using them.
But, training is more than an hour-long tutorial. Employee advocacy requires constant evaluation. Check-in regularly with your employees and ask what they need to succeed. It could be that they need simple task management training to be more productive.
As social media features evolve and company policies change, provide new and better training to assist them in building networks, refining profiles, and promoting your business.
Personalized social media posts from employees generate more engagement than posts that aren’t. What this shows is that people prefer a voice that sounds authentic.
If your employees begin posting generic business statements, their audience won't engage. The tone of the post is off, and there’s no real heart or feeling in it.
Ask your employees to reword messages in their style. A little personalization can boost the virality of a post and increase brand awareness.
An note about asking employees for reviews: It's a better idea to ask a current employee to post their thoughts on Glassdoor or Indeed if they're happy. But don't ask them to post something specifically good, that can backfire. Instead, build an authentic, positive, environment that makes them want to leave positive reviews.
Social media is a snippet of life, and sometimes jokes or parodies can land people in trouble or get them fired.
Therefore, creating guidelines to define what is and isn’t acceptable is essential to ensuring successful employee advocacy.
Use guidelines from other companies to serve as inspiration for your own. Talk to your employees and get their insight. 73% of employees expect to be involved in planning. Involving staff at this stage builds trust and engagement, which is essential for employee advocacy.
Finally, create your guidelines. Ensure that they’re simple and easy to understand so that there are no unfortunate incidents.
Create social media resources
Employees aren’t paid to become advocates, so if they have to source ideas or create content, they’ll likely not post anything at all.
Create a library of fun, vibrant, and share-worthy content. This means content that people are interested in or is relevant. It could be videos, animations, hashtags, or graphics, each suited to posting on social media.
A brand ambassador promotes and builds excitement for your company from an employee perspective. It could be for recruitment, selling products, or general awareness. In any case, designing viral content is how you achieve the best out of employee advocacy.
Consider what you want to promote and build content, messages, and promotions around that.
Finally, give employees a little leeway. They may want to post a selfie at their desk, have a social media tour of the office, or have a virtual workers chat thread, or even live stream, with their colleagues to generate ideas. Provided there’s no sensitive information on display or other guidelines broken, let them work and engage with their audience how they know best, and your business will be the better for it.
Employees love to be appreciated and rewarded for their hard work. Using incentives is a great way to encourage your employees to post more, and to recruit ambassadors for your advocacy program.
Rewards like gift cards, bonuses, company branded clothing, or discounted products can be powerful incentives for brand ambassadors and staff retention. Rewards can show up in future social media posts, further promoting your brand. But, one of the most powerful incentives is competition.
Gamifying advocacy motivates your employees to post more often. For example, use a leaderboard to show your ambassadors how they stack up against each other and reward the leader each week or month. You can do this by creating a hashtag or using social media interactions to track your employee advocacy.
Let your employees know they're valuable
Your employees are your greatest asset. With employee advocacy, your enthusiastic workers become valuable ambassadors on social media, too, increasing brand awareness, messaging, and reputation.
In return, they’re able to expand their network, learn new skills, and develop business acumen.
By leveraging incentives, you can encourage your workers to positively share information about company culture, experiences, products, and initiatives with potential customers and recruits.
While advocacy is unpaid, there are numerous benefits. Engage with passionate employees to take advantage of these benefits and increase business sales and growth.