When done correctly, employee advocacy is one of the best assets any business can use to exponentially expand the reach of the company on social media and to cultivate a more positive brand image. Some businesses set their employees loose on social media with little training in how to be an effective advocate, thinking they’ll learn as they go. This is a huge mistake.

Advocacy can’t be a leap of faith for anyone – not for the employer or the employee. To be effective, advocacy must be rolled out strategically, with extensive training, ongoing support, and top-notch technology resources provided to participants. Here are the key reasons advocacy should never be a leap of faith:

  1. Strategic advocacy builds audience and brand recognition: When relegated to a leap of faith, employees cannot be expected to know how to build audience and brand recognition for their employer. Employee advocacy that’s strategic, by contrast, has built-in processes to ensure employees are properly trained in how to build a loyal following on social media and how to write and share posts that positively build brand recognition on social media.
  2. Strategic advocacy increases collaboration: With leap-of-faith advocacy, the notion that employees will learn to more effectively work together becomes a crapshoot. Strategic advocacy ensures employees have infrastructure and processes in place to learn together and share knowledge with one another. Through message boards set up by the employer and ongoing training and mentoring opportunities, employees learn how to translate the individual power of social media into the collective power of social media, for the benefit of their employer.
  3. Strategic advocacy fosters development of thought leadership: One of the most valuable but elusive forms of advocacy is thought leadership. When employees become thought leaders, they learn to write authoritatively about their industry and develop a loyal, unique social-media following in the process. Thought leaders aren’t cultivated through leaps of faith; they stem from a conscious effort by the employer to train, mentor and encourage employees in this elusive art.
  4. Strategic advocacy motivates and inspires: Advocacy initiatives built on leaps of faith are likely to lead to cacophony and frustration among the rank and file. By contrast, advocacy with a strategy behind it can motivate and inspire employees. High-performing employees can be singled out for recognition, which, in turn, motivates others to continue to want to achieve more. Gamification leaderboards and other technologies for cultivating advocacy can effectively encourage employees to take part in and to remain part of the initiative over the long term. The trust and confidence that are engendered among employees by these well-thought-out efforts have trickle-down effects on all aspects of employee performance.

In an age in which corporate social-media initiatives can make or break a business’s reputation and standing on social media, it’s more important than ever that advocacy not become a leap of faith for your business. Remember, strategic planning for advocacy initiatives is essential for building your audience and brand, increasing collaboration among employees, fostering development of thought leadership, and motivating and inspiring employees to achieve more.