Employee advocacy and employee advocacy programs are being implemented in companies to foster a boost in team morale, and to assist businesses and brands in awareness and even sales.
But what is employee advocacy, and why is it important? Employee advocacy simply means the promotion and awareness of a company and/or its products and services by the employees who work there. From John the janitor to Audrey in accounting, every employee on staff should be motivated to become a part of your employee advocacy program, sharing social posts from the company, discussing their jobs and the company at networking events, and even leaving reviews on sites like Glassdoor. It is important because 52 percent of consumers trust employees at a company more than the company or brand itself.
If your digital marketing team is spending a huge amount of time crafting the perfect posts and tweets, utilizing employees to share those posts may go further than any ad spend you put behind promoting them.
As business owners and those of us in management or the C-suite, we probably can’t imagine why anyone would not be motivated to use their personal social media to advocate for the business. We love our company and want to see it succeed, so everyone else does too, right? Realistically, not every employee is going to be thrilled to participate, which is why it is important to get started with your employee advocacy program by offering the opportunity to join and not mandating it as part of anyone’s job.
While it isn’t necessarily required to get started with employee advocacy, you can incentivize participation by determining goals and awarding employees who attain those goals with items like gift cards or company-branded swag. More than just gift incentives, it is important to let employees know that by participating, it can help them establish and grow their networks and, overall, help cultivate their personal brands.
In some cases, employees want to participate but aren’t sure how. A strong employee advocacy program will have a team lead who helps to determine what content should be earmarked as part of the program for sharing and who should share it (beneficial for larger companies with various facets of business and multiple departments). Take time to train participating employees on best practices—such as tagging, sharing or retweeting with comments, best times of day to do so—and they will feel that the company is investing in them. Also, it’s advantageous for a company as the content may go further when sharing is optimized.
Letting employees know when the content is being released or has been released is helpful as well. Guide them to the content so they aren’t spending time searching for it, becoming frustrated and possibly losing interest in the program.
When our agency helps a client build an employee advocacy program, we start by assisting them in determining goals to set for the program. Goals depend on your business and what you hope to accomplish. Maybe it’s three new sales leads that convert to new customers each month, or selling 10 percent more of a product within a given quarter or X number of downloads of a white paper. Maybe it’s as simple as building brand awareness and setting a goal for reach and impressions of posts and tweets.
No surprise: The success of an employee advocacy program will be determined by your employees. If they aren’t engaged or lack dedication or loyalty, then start by addressing the company culture. What can you do as a company to make your employees more immersed, to create a sense of pride in their careers? Employees will share in a company where the culture and values match their own and where they feel that what they send out is given back to them.
As originally published on Forbes.com. Clearbridge Branding Agency is a digital marketing agency located in Glassboro. Visit ClearBridgeMedia.com.