Ever wonder who your company’s biggest fans are? Well, they are most likely right in front of you. Your employees are your brand’s best and biggest cheerleaders. They live and breathe your brand on a daily basis and know more about it than any average consumer.
According to the social media and content agency Link Humans, “employee advocacy” is a term used to describe the exposure that employees generate for brands using their own online assets. While social media is often the main medium for employee advocacy, these “online assets” include email, chat, forums, discussion boards and more.
Employee advocacy isn’t as simple as relying on your team to speak highly of your company to their friends and family. It’s about growing and cultivating a work culture that is inspiring and encouraging to employees and that motivates them to advocate for your company to their personal network. Creating this type of work environment can lead to powerful employee advocacy that can yield positive results for your company, and without adding to ad spend.
In a recent 2015 Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today survey of 588 professionals, 79.1 percent of respondents whose companies had some kind of employee advocacy program reported increased brand visibility. Additionally, 65 percent saw improved brand recognition, and 33.7 percent had better brand loyalty.
Wondering how to harness and empower the best advocates from your team? Check out these three tips on how to encourage your best employee advocates:
1. Define your company’s brand to your advocates
In order to ensure that your team is advocating your company’s brand, it is imperative to ensure that they know how to present it to the world.
As a part of its 2013 State of the American Workforce report, Gallup surveyed more than 3,000 employees about their company’s brand. Only 41 percent said they knew what the brand was or how it was different from competitors’ brands.
According to Entrepreneur, a great way to find out what employees already know about your brand is to “identify confusing parts of the brand by asking employees to describe the company. Then, formally define the brand by aligning the mission statement, core company values and key message of the company.”
By comparing the differences between the actual brand guidelines and employees’ perceptions, you can clarify and better define the brand and communicate this defined brand to employee advocates before they become active advocates.
2. Incorporate Employee Advocacy into Company Goals
Encouraging your employees to advocate for your brand should be laid out clearly in company objectives. For example, If you’re looking for a 10% increase in sales next quarter, explain how the connections they have through their own social media network and the information they share to that network moves the needle on key metrics.
Another way to encourage them is by diversifying company content. Your employees have the freedom to either share or not share the content you are putting out, and their choice will depend on how relevant your content is to their lives. Therefore, a good way to encourage social media sharing would be switching up the topics and style of content your company makes to reflect the many different interests your employees (and their respective audiences) may have.
On top of encouraging employees to share company-related content, it’s just as important to show that your company, be it a startup or corporate, isn’t all work and no play. Maybe your office is dog-friendly or maybe you have a company softball team that employees love being a part of. Fun, unconventional office policies will encourage employees to share their work environment with their following. This not only promotes your brand and company, but attracts the best talent.
The office supply company Poppin allows employees to occasionally work from home as well as bring dogs to the office. This image from their Instagram was originally taken by an employee and posted on their personal page.
If your company fosters an inspiring and motivating work culture, this will not feel like a chore for your employees. In fact, they may want to participate!
3. Give Employees the Resources to Advocate
Every company is different and therefore the tools employees need to succeed as advocates are different as well. For example, in industries such as finance, there are high regulations on what information is promoted and how it is promoted to the general public. If employees at a financial institution want to serve as advocates for their company, they need to know the regulations on what they can and cannot say.
Even without industry restrictions, your company may have its own policies. It’s imperative that your team is familiar with these rules before they begin serving as advocates.
Another way to make sure your team has what it needs to be incredible advocates is to make sure they are consistently informed about key messages and communications regarding any facet of the company’s brand. For example, The Body Shop brand is “characterized by a strong commitment to being environmentally conscious. Because this is an important distinction in the company’s brand, employees receive regular updates on the environment through training courses and newsletters.”
Wishing you could provide your employees with more tangible advocacy tools? Well, those exist. Employee advocacy tools like Circulate.it or Everyone Social allow you to share content with your employees more smoothly and allows them to share that content in an instant.
Try using these tips to grow your hardworking team into your company’s newest brand ambassadors and biggest cheerleading squad.
We want to hear from you! What tips do you have for growing employee advocacy?