Companies need positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations to help build trust among its target audience. Employee advocacy is one of the best forms of reputation-building marketing, but it has to be genuine and it is sometimes difficult to achieve organically.

The Challenge

Companies are faced with two major problems in their workplace: employee attention spans are getting shorter and, on average, employees are not feeling engaged at work. These two problems create a lackluster work environment that slows productivity levels and negatively affects company culture. Gallup reported a shocking 68.5% of U.S. employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work.

Employees who are not engaged in the workplace are not going to be interested in spreading the word about their company. Not only does a lack of engagement hurt the company culture internally, but it also affects how it is portrayed externally by employees.

The Solution

To fix the problem of engagement, companies need to start internally with their culture and work towards employee advocacy. Getting the employees engaged goes much further than simply requiring them to sign up for social media and push the brand – in fact, this approach would end disastrously with irritated employees and solicited (shallow sounding) brand-promoting posts.

If you believe McGraw Hill in his book The Art of Engagement, then the top reasons your employees are not engaged most likely include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed with workloads
  • Struggling to “get it”
  • Scared of trying new things
  • Not seeing the big picture
  • Not “owning” the company
  • Working under unrealistic leadership

Leadership does not always realize that they are counterproductive to their own company culture. Heavy workloads, unrealistic deadlines, lack of trust or true responsibility – these are just a few of the reasons employees might feel burdened or scared. Most importantly, employees need to have a voice in their company that allows them to “own” it. If you want your employees to be the voice for your company with employee advocacy, you need to give them something they can fully get behind.

How Does Employee Advocacy Work?

When employees “get it” and are able to see the big picture (and it’s a big picture they like), then they are far more likely to mentally support their brand. When they aren’t afraid to say what they really think about their company in public, then they are more likely to share. Companies who are able to provide a culture that is supported by its employees and offer a safe environment for voicing opinions will be able to turn employees into brand advocates.

Brand advocates simply tell others about their company and support their companies publicly, becoming one of the mostimportant social media marketing tactics a brand can have (right up there with loyal customer advocacy). A brand advocate will defend his or her brand when a complaint is raised and fully believe in the brand’s value to the customer base it serves. Most company owners are brand advocates, but how many lower-level employees hit that mark organically? Brand advocacy must be earned – not forced.

50% of employees are already posting about their company and 25% of all employees are already brand advocates (Weber Shandwick).

Why is it Important for Businesses?

  • Cisco found their employees reached 10x more people than their corporate account
  • When employees recommended followers see what they were working on or look at new content they were personally supportive of, engagement was 8x higher than when the branded channels posted the same thing (Edelman Trust Barometer)
  • When content is posted by employees, 67% of customers trust the content (Bluenose)
  • Engaged employees are twice as productive as disengaged employees and the traffic they generate is converts twice as fast as traditional leads (Technorati)

How Can a Company Achieve Employee Advocacy?

It’s not innate for employees to become advocates or brands to build advocacy programs, or every company would be doing it. Work to get your program off the ground and move towards stronger referrals that your extended audience will trust.

Avoiding Pitfalls

Starting with company culture is important because employee advocacy cannot be forced. If you aren’t sure why forcing an employee advocacy program is a problem, imagine how the communist countries garner support by forcing loyalty and propaganda. Your employees will resent your pressure and the propaganda they end up putting in front of their audience will feel forced and salesy.

Never require your employees to post on behalf of your brand.

Taking the First Steps

Do you know who your most engaged employees are? A dashboard will help you assess existing employee advocacy and get employees more engaged. EveryoneSocial is a great place to start, since the dashboard helps your employees sort through content, streamlining the process and making sharing easy. Employees can build their personal brands and industry authority more efficiently when they are provided with curated content, relevant to their brand and industry.

Support your employee’s voice by encouraging them to make things better in the company and have a stake in the outcome. Help your employees get behind the values, missions and goals so they can understand the bigger picture. Let them know how their role in the company matters and how their work makes a positive impact for those around them. Keep your employees up-to-speed on plans, developments and news.

Your employee advocates will also be spreading in-person, word-of-mouth news of the company. So, you won’t solely rely on social media to tell you who is engaged and advocating for the company, but it is a great place to start. Give employees the company they want to rally behind.