Market research firm Altimeter recently put out a report on the current state of employee advocacy. I (EveryoneSocial Co-Founder and CEO) and many of our customers (General Mills and Adobe to name a couple) were interviewed for this report and are featured throughout. You can download the full report here.
Altimeter's report is very comprehensive and well worth the time to read if you're running an employee advocacy program or looking to launch one in the near future. For this post I wanted to highlight some of the key findings and takeaways from the report, and share some ideas on how you might put these learnings to work in your employee advocacy program.
As mentioned, the report includes a lot of data and detail, including some very interesting insights around how consumers (potential buyers and hires) perceive employee advocacy. However, the following three findings were our main takeaways:
- Employee advocacy programs are becoming the status quo - According to Altimeter, 90% of the brands they surveyed are already pursuing or have plans to pursue some form of employee advocacy.
- Employee advocacy drives employee engagement - Employees who share company-endorsed content with their networks feel more connected and enthusiastic about the company where they work, according to Altimeter.
- Employee advocacy drives recruitment and retention - Many reports (such as this one from Gallup) have called out that employee engagement levels are stagnant or on the decline. According to Altimeter, 30% of potential hires find job postings on social channels useful.
Now, if you've been involved with an employee advocacy program for any amount of time over the last couple years you're probably thinking "Yeah, that's what I've been saying all along!". Us too, however there's nothing sweeter than a well-respected reasearch firm confirming these beliefes with emperical data!
The reality is that employee advocacy, in a few short years, has become core part of many organizations' marketing, sales, and hr functions. We're seeing this across our customer base; the types of companies and the employee advocacy programs they're rolling out today are far more diverse than they were even one year ago:
- One virtualization technology company with annual revenues above $100M is using EveryoneSocial to better engage their channel partners. The program is now in beta with a select group and will soon be deploying in full so that all of their channel partners have the option of joining.
- A publicly traded leader in the data visualization space is using EveryoneSocial to empower its sales teams and build more of a community among quantitative aficionados and incorporate social into their core workflows.
- Two computer and network hardware companies, both publicly traded household names, use our software to power their long-established employee social media programs—after years of using software and spreadsheet to manage workflows across thousands of employees, they decided to invest in a solution that was more scalable and driven by analytics.
The undercurrent is that marketing, sales, and hr are changing and increasingly place individuals (in this case, employees) at the focal point of success. The Altimeter report leads off with a great quote from Kevin Hunt, social media manager at General Mills and EveryoneSocial customer:
“When we first launched our employee advocacy pilot, I found an old essay that the President of General Mills had written in the 1940s that said PR is everybody’s job. That’s especially true today; we all have a role to play in promoting the company and this is just the 2015 version of that.”
Putting These Learnings To Work At Your Company
Employee advocacy is very much a story in the making—as I was quoted as saying in the report "we're barely out of the first inning"—which is why it can be challenging for companies to get up and running with a new program. When you’re out in the wild doing something that hasn't been done before, there are few existing blueprints to be found.
But our team, having worked with a good number of companies, have recognized some patterns. Below we've included a simple, four-point checklist to help you make your program more tangible—so that you too can harness the trends and opportunities substantiated in Altimeter's report.
# 1: Recognize the business drivers of employee advocacy—and figure out how they align with your company
No matter the company, employees are an organization’s most valuable (and most untapped) asset. Meanwhile, brands are struggling to achieve organic reach at the corporate level, with social media networks shifting their strategies (and algorithms) to prioritize paid campaigns. Employees aren’t beholden to the same algorithmic constraints that corporations are. Just as they have been in the past, before the days of the Internet, employees—harnessing the trust-building force of word of mouth—are the future of any brand.
# 2: Recognize the human drivers of employee advocacy—and figure out how they align with your company
Report after report says that employees are disengaged from their work. While the reasons why are clear (poor communication within organizations, feeling disempowered, getting lost in a sea of information, lack of ownership over company-wide strategic initiatives, etc.), the question of ‘what we can do about it’ gets much less attention. At the heart of employee advocacy is a workflow that prioritizes relationship-building over content.
One of the biggest drivers of employee advocacy, especially as it pertains to employee engagement, is inspiration. We can better-connect people to the core mission and vision of a company through a 2 minute daily touchpoint, through content—that they can share with their own networks, to highlight their deep industry insight and personal contributions at work.
# 3: Understand the top 3 drivers for investing in an employee advocacy program
Most companies come to EveryoneSocial with a goal to achieve one of the following:
- Increase reach of messages accross social networks (awareness)
- Enable an increased understanding and brand health of an organization
- Engage employees more deeply in a their company’s mission and their work
# 4: Evaluate how you’ll measure those drivers
...And here’s how EveryoneSocial’s customers tend to assess success:
- Customer engagement (likes, comments, re-shares, reach, referral traffic)
- Employee engagement (sharing activity, overall engagement, retention)
- Financial return (referral traffic, opportunity creation, recruitment)
There has never been a better time to start an employee advocacy program. The tools, data, and leadership resources available today are substantial, all of which makes it easier for you to get up and running and be successful. Whether you’re building your own employee advocacy program or simply exploring, the Altimeter report provides a great starting point that can help you understand the landscape, quickly. Check it out for yourself by visiting their site, here.