The rise of employee advocacy and how to turn employees into your best brand advocates

If your finger is on the employee experience trend pulse, you’ve probably heard of employee advocacy. When it comes to attracting and retaining both talent and customers, employee advocates are poised to bring unique value. Find out how to launch an employee advocacy strategy that amplifies your brand from the inside out.

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Everything you need to know about employee advocacy

We know engaged employees are a company’s greatest asset, but did you know they can also be your company’s greatest advocates? When it comes to getting your key messages out into the cybersphere, your employees hold the key to big opportunities.

In today’s world, your potential customers care as much about your company values as your employees do. And your employees’ voices are more important than ever. With the right employee advocacy strategy, you can realise an organic amplification of your brand at minimal cost – and that’s why it pays to know about employee advocacy.

What is employee advocacy?

Employee advocacy is the practice of employees promoting their employer by sharing information on company initiatives, products and services, and key business milestones. Employee advocates are people that work for a company talking about great things the company does in any kind of public forum.

Employee advocates help to support a business’ marketing approach by amplifying key messages and business stories within their personal networks. In our social networking era, employee advocacy programs present new opportunities to extend the reach of company messaging and engage audiences in new and authentic ways.

Today, typical advocacy programs entail brands creating preapproved content and aggregating it in a hub where advocates or ambassadors can grab content and publish to their own social media accounts.

Why employee advocacy? What are the benefits of employee advocacy?

Employee advocacy is rising in popularity as a new and important method for promoting brand presence to both potential employees and customers. The benefits of employee advocacy are numerous:

  • Increase authenticity – When your employees shout about your brand, their voice is powerful. People trust people, especially people they know. In a recent Edelman study of consumer trust, 63% of 18-34 year olds reported trusting what influencers say about brands more than the brands themselves. You can invest in all the marketing clout you want, but when your people help to drive your message forward, there’s a credibility that money can’t buy.
  • Amplify messages – Your people have networks that shouldn’t be overlooked. Investing in employee advocacy extends the reach of your communications to audiences you might not be able to reach otherwise.
  • Attract talent – The battle for top talent is fraught and today’s employees care more than ever about company culture and values. Leveraging the voice of your employees to cement your brand image in helps to attract new hires and drive recognition of your employer brand.
  • Drive sales – It’s not just future employees that care about your culture; customers do too. 90% of consumers say that brands that do not protect the wellbeing of their employees will lose their loyalty, according to new Korn Ferry research. When employees shout about the great things your company is doing, customers listen too. And when you’re releasing a new product or service or you’ve achieved something great as a business, your employees can help amplify that message to support your marketing efforts.

"63% of 18-34 year olds trust what influencers say about brands more than the brands themselves."

Edelman Trust Barometer

Examples of employee advocacy

The rise of employee advocacy coincides with the rise of social media. As employees build their online presence and create personal networks on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, they create opportunities to open-up authentic dialogues and drive awareness of corporate narratives.

Here are some great examples of employee advocacy in action:

Employees posting a company achievement

When your enterprise achieves a business milestone, it's an accolade for every team member. It's a great opportunity for team members to share their success with their community and, in doing so, drive increased awareness of big business news.

Employees posting images of a company event on social

When you put on an outstanding company event, employees want to let their networks know about it! Whether their sharing approved company images or their own personal snaps, this kind of post serves to generate buzz and increase attendance at the next event.

Employees posting about new company vacancies

A common use-case for employee advocacy is employees posting about new vacancies. Support your next recruitment drive by getting your employees to share new openings with their online connections. 

Employees re-sharing company blog posts

Your marketing team produce great content, and they have a well-honed strategy for getting in front of new audiences. But your employees can help spread the message even further by sharing blog posts, guides and case studies with their own audiences.

Employees sharing brand swag

Never underestimate the power of brand swag! When you're onboarding new employees, they're likely to want to shout about it on social. Give them something to shout about by investing in some good-old swag. Not only will it help to promote a strong culture within the business, but it also gets your logo out there.

Employees posting about workplace internal events

You're investing in cultural initiatives that bring your people together, but are you encouraging them to share their experiences on social? Posting about workplace activities that make your people smile shows potential employees what they're missing out on. 

Employees posting about great company culture

When you've truly nurtured your employee advocacy strategy, you'll find employees posting positive messages you didn't expect. When employees know that their voice matters, they'll use it without you having to ask!

Best practices for nurturing employee advocacy

#1. Provide clear guidance

Are employees free to put their own spin on company comms? How do they know which stories they can share and which they can’t? Are they encouraged to share their own imagery? Providing a clear set of guidelines for your employee advocacy approach is key to launching a successful strategy. Make sure everyone knows how to find the guidelines and ensure your employees are informed of the benefits of getting involved. Your people will appreciate the recognition that their voice matters.

#2. Make it clear what stories are appropriate to share externally

Not all company news is appropriate for external eyes. You need to be clear about which stories have the green light to share and which don’t. Providing clear guidance is a starting point, but using your intranet offers a clearer route. A modern comms platform should give you the ability to enable external social sharing on approved content. This makes it easy for employee to share the stories that matter and ensures that content that’s meant for internal eyes only stays that way.

#3. Make it easy for employees to become advocates

Employees have a lot to do besides acting as ambassadors for the company. To make it quick and easy for employees to share company news, think about introducing employee advocacy features on your intranet. Light integrations with platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter mean that your employees can share to their favourite platforms in a few simple clicks.

#4. Educate the business on the value of employee advocates

While the benefits of employee advocacy are numerous, some business leaders look at advocacy programs with a critical eye. Trusting employees to act as a voice for the company can be scary but with the right guidance the benefits far outweigh the risks. Garnering executive support for any new strategy means you need to demonstrate the value to the business. Try to gather data insights on engagement with employee advocacy posts to show the business that its worth investing in.

#5. Identify your business champions

To really nurture your employee advocacy strategy, it’s important to recognize employees that are doing their part. Consider launching initiatives that spotlight your top employee advocates. Gamification is a simple way of rewarding employee efforts, so consider using badges, kudos and leader boards to incentivize participation and generate healthy competition.

How Unily is supporting employee advocates

You’ve seen above how an intranet or employee experience platform can play a pivotal role in furthering your employee advocacy strategy. The Unily platform includes a bunch of features that make it even easier for employees to become brand ambassadors.

Employee advocacy

Easy sharing with social integrations

Simple integrations with key social platforms mean that Unily customers can enable one-click social sharing of any story published on the platform. Content editors can decide which stories to enable external sharing on to make it easy for employees to know what to share on their personal social and what not to.

Employee advocacy on-the-go

We know that employees engage best with company comms when it’s accessible on their preferred device – mobile. That’s why we’ve enabled employee advocacy sharing features on our Employee App so employees can easily share great content with their networks on-the-go.

Simple measurement of employee advocacy success

Measuring the success of your employee advocacy strategy means having the metrics to prove it. Unily’s analytics dashboards make it easy to see how many external shares your content is generating, and which audience segments are sharing the most. Not only does this give you evidence that your strategy is working, but it also shows you how you can tailor your approach to achieve better outcomes in the future.

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