Employee Advocacy: The Simplest Way To Build An Authentic Employer Brand
Updated: Mar 18, 2022
As the challenges to attract, retain and engage talent increase, organizations will need to find ways to reinforce and strengthen their employer brand. But, this is easier said than done, as everything in a traditional sense has transformed for a workplace.
'Employee Advocacy' or simply put, 'getting your employees to act as spokespersons for your company', is a simple and proven way to not just amplify but also build an authentic employer brand.
What does a good employee advocacy program achieve? Why is it important? How can you get employees to speak up for you? What do you get them to say? How does one build a good employee advocacy program? We share answers to all of these questions.
Why is Employee Advocacy Important?
There is more than enough evidence to suggest that employee advocacy is good not just for the brand and business, but also for employee morale and engagement. An organization with a good advocacy culture is bound to experience improved sales, better customer retention, faster time to hire, and amplified brand awareness.
Still need convincing? Here are three specific reasons why you should consider employee advocacy as part of your employer branding exercise:
One: Improved Reach
Consider this, when looked at collectively, employee social media networks are typically at least ten times larger than those of corporate brands. So, every post or message gets ten times the amount of views and impressions. Content generated and shared through this network also has the potential to receive 50% more engagement and a 5x greater clickthrough rate than that shared by the brand or company page.
Online word-of-mouth increases brand awareness and overall reach like no other paid campaign, at a fraction of the cost. Investing in a carefully structured employee advocacy program can be a force multiplier in your employer branding efforts.
Two: Builds Authenticity
Every organization and brand aspires to establish a relationship with its users where they are seen as authentic and trustworthy.
Employees are seen as credible sources to get information. According to LinkedIn, content shared by employees is viewed as three times more authentic as compared to when the same information is shared by the company mouthpiece.
Authenticity is not always about the volume of posts, but about the quality. The moment people sense that employees are not being authentic or telling half-truths, it raises suspicion and mistrust. But, by and large, posts by employees are seen as trustworthy.
Three: Improves Employee Engagement
When you have a strong employee advocacy policy and program, you demonstrate to your employees that you value them. It shows them that you care for their opinions, shows trust and transparency, and gives them the freedom to be themselves. These are all important factors that lead to overall better employee engagement.
Additionally, when an employee starts posting more frequently on social media, they are more likely to build a stronger professional brand. As they build their own personal brand, they are slowly but surely also contributing to building the company image. Statistics show that socially engaged companies are 58% more likely to attract top talent and 57% more likely to have increased sales leads.
How to Build an Employee Advocacy Program?
Creating an employee advocacy program that aligns with your employer branding or recruitment marketing can be a daunting task. There are essential elements that go into creating a perfectly well-aligned advocacy program. Here are some pointers to help.
Step One: Start with identifying your company culture
The starting point for any advocacy program is to identify the key themes that need to be promoted about the company. A good starting point is your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and the 'proof points' that you may have collected to support it.
If you don't have an EVP defined, then take a close look at what your culture stands for, and if there are enough anecdotes that bring it alive. Internal surveys, interviews with tenured employees, and frontline staff will help you identify genuine anecdotes and culture stories.
Step Two: Set up the right goals
Every program needs to start with a clear set of objectives and goals. This initiative is no different. Define what the program is supposed to accomplish right at the start. This will help you track progress.
You can start by defining a few broad categories for your employee advocacy strategy like, 'Building Awareness of Company' and 'Attracting Top Talent'. Under these categories, you can add specific goals you want to reach, including a time frame for reaching them.
Step Three: Share your plan with employees
Most plans fail because the objectives, roles, and expected outcomes are not communicated well to all the stakeholders involved. Hence, in this case, communicating your plan to the right set of employees will help in the execution.
But here are things to remember when you start taking your plan to a larger group:
Start with a test group. This will allow you to make tweaks and changes when required.
Make it voluntary. Encourage, don't enforce it. This will make it democratic and encourage word-of-mouth participation.
Make employee advocacy fun. Run internal events to promote social channels, incentivize and reward employees who are active and making tangible contributions.
Step Four: Set up social media guidelines and policy
Employees must be encouraged to be open, honest, and authentic at all times. They may need guidance on how to communicate certain stories and enhance their posts with appropriate imagery. They may even need help to learn the appropriate language, especially for professional networks.
A comprehensive guideline and policy document that highlights all the important aspects of your plan and gives overall direction should be created.
Some points to consider:
Encourage employees to have fun on social media, but remind them that their job duties must come first.
Be clear that employees must be responsible for their own posts. 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.
The guidelines may be vetted by the Legal and Human Resources team.
Step Five: Launch your employee advocacy program
Every launch needs to be significant and mark the start of a movement. For an Employee Advocacy program, the most appropriate time to launch would be when you have something noteworthy to talk about, such as a major event, an award, or a new development in your industry.
This will give employees enough to discuss organically with a minimal push from the central team. Each employee will have a unique take on the same event, making the contributions interesting to read. You will also, hopefully, get the required momentum to propel your program forward.
Channelize not Control
Every organization is different, and we strongly advise that you evaluate your internal culture and leadership appetite for building a program that supports employee advocacy. Once it is launched, you can channelize and orchestrate the program to some extent, but by no means should you try to control it.
Get in Touch
Get in touch with us, if you are looking to start or need help to manage an existing employee advocacy program.