Social media has taken the world by storm and hasn’t showed many signs of stopping. It’s shaping the way the world communicates and offers a way to connect with others that hasn’t been seen before.

Because of this shift in the way people communicate, brands and companies are looking for ways to succeed in this new playing field. This is no easy task considering social media is largely used to communicate within personal social circles, and brand interference can be unwelcome.

This is where employee advocacy comes into play. Put simply, employee advocacy is when employees generate exposure for the companies or brands they work for within their own social network circles.

This can be everything from writing Facebook posts or tweets about their companies, to joining in conversations on chat rooms and forums, offering insight from a company standpoint. This type of promotion offers a much more meaningful way for brands to reach out to individuals on a personal level, and with a unique sense of authenticity.

Think about it this way: If you’re searching for the best insect extermination company, how would you go about finding it? Many people would go to their friends to ask about their experiences and see if they had any referrals. If an employee advocate of an extermination company saw someone asking on social media, they could easily recommend their company and explain some of the benefits they offer. It can even create a domino effect where others see the post and call up that advocate’s company next time they needed to get their home sprayed.

So what sorts of things make for the best employee advocate?

The first thing is to ensure that your employee advocates are inherently your biggest fans, your greatest champions.  You want to seek out employees who are passionate about the brand or company. Find ambassadors who are knowledgeable, friendly and excited to participate. It’s not wise for companies to force any sort of employee advocacy, because you want to offer the advocates freedom and trust. Another good trait is someone who sees that being engaged can make them better at their jobs and closer to the customer and market, as well as seeing the greater value it will bring to the company or brand. An employee advocate is on board for the long run and wants to see growth in the company, and develop networking skills for their own growth.  It’s the company’s job to set up their advocates for success by providing solid training so they understand clearly the brand voice, guidelines, mission and personal benefits.

The best employee advocates are goal-oriented people who have a drive for results as well as a hunger for information, learning and growth. A good way to motivate these goal-oriented people is by offering incentives and measuring their success. An easy way for companies to empower their employees and measure success is by using special social networks built for employee advocacy, and having the advocates use targeted social media platforms. Overall, employee advocacy is a great way for brands to reach new audiences, but it all depends on having the best people on your side for the right reasons.