Employee advocacy: Building brand heroes

Published: 5th May 2021

By Kristy Gogolka

Does employee advocacy really work? This form of advocacy has been around for a while now and while social media has made it easier and more accessible, there are some challenges. Companies must rethink the way they approach advocacy and how employees fit into the company story.

Employee advocacy is, in a nutshell, promotion of an organisation by its staff members. When staff members promote an organisation, it generates positive exposure and raises awareness for a company. This makes the workplace a desirable setting and is another opportunity for staff members to be a spokesperson and thought leaders within their work field.

A social media employee advocacy program has many opportunities for staff members. Promoting the place you work at through social media means you can influence friends and family. There is a simple formula to understand the amplification for employee advocacy reach. Say you have 50 staff members; if each of these employees had around 500 connections on LinkedIn and on average gets around 0.30 per cent views on each post, this would mean an average total of 7,500 reach from theemployees. Your business might have 2,000 followers and gets an average of 0.30 per cent views on each post. This would mean a total of 6,666 reach. This makes around 14,000 views combined, meaning you can reach more people through trusted relationships and friendships. The reason this is becoming a more common strategy for some organisations is because people trust other people more than brand messages. It creates more real and authentic messages; people see others as reassurance and seek feedback or clarification about issues they are facing. Before you want to roll out the program and begin finding advocates within the business, you need to understand what the goals you are wanting to reach. You could take the path of improving organic reach, increasing traffic to your social media platforms or creating a place for employee benefits.

Understand what the benefits are for your employees; if you are wanting them to post on social media and taking more time from their day, be clear in the value it can add to their daily life. When trying to convince staff members about adopting a new tool in their life, you should look at the types of incentives and gamification that would work well and help with any teething problems. The employees involved in the advocacy program should participate because they want to, not because they feel they must. Once you have explained the benefits of the program you will need to train your employees on the software and programs in order understand their purpose. Once you have told employees what you are wanting them to do and they are feeling comfortable with the platforms you can start picking the people who would be key advocates.

These people will be the change leaders of the business, these are the type of people wanting to be the change and essentially the early adopters of the program and will try and encourage other colleagues to get on the platform. To maintain the program, you will need to make it easy, send reminders to participating staff, make sure you highlight the wins from people, make it customised and never make it onerous for those taking part. Having staff members who are willing and wanting to share more authentic and candid content makes for more real engagements online. This is a win-win scenario wherein staff members begin to be recognised by others within the same industry and as a result the business reaps the rewards of their excelling within their field of work.