If you have been keeping up with current trends, you may have noticed the role of social media taking over company strategies. One item in particular keeps popping up in predictions for 2016, not just in social media, but also HR, marketing and sales categories. This is because all of these departments have something to gain from it.
What am I talking about?
It’s called Employee Advocacy. This is something that, when embraced by the company as a whole, can greatly benefit the organization and its employees. When implemented successfully, Employee Advocacy boosts a company’s brand, sales, marketing and HR efforts, while allowing employees to improve their expertise and become thought leaders in their networks.
What is Employee Advocacy?
What does this mean? In practice, advocating for your employer works in pretty much the same way as consumers revealing their customer experiences.
Let us illustrate this with an example most people can relate to. Let’s say you are booking a hotel for an upcoming trip. Do you seek a glorifying ad on the hotel’s website, or do you have a look at what a person like yourself says about it on TripAdvisor?
Most likely, you’ll do both. But which source do you actually trust more? Statistics point towards the latter.
According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, peers and employees are more trusted sources than leaders. They are rated as the third most trustworthy source of information about a company, right after technical and academic experts. Information from people such as yourself is relatable information.
How does Employee Advocacy work in practice?
In similar fashion, Employee Advocacy provides a first-hand testimony to what a company is like, though not through reviews as such, but information, updates, images. The things people can actually judge a brand by.
This happens through a content curation system provided by the company. Employees connect their social media accounts to this Employee Advocacy platform and, voilà! They are ready to become brand ambassadors.
Making it Personal
Through the platform, employees can now post content to the social media channels of their choosing. Companies must establish some type of guideline, which employees should adhere to, when posting things, but employees can approach being a brand ambassador in a manner they are most comfortable with.
They can, for example, regularly post relevant articles, which they think can be of value to their networks, thus keeping themselves and their networks up-to-date on topics within their industry. The user can post a message along with the article, whether simply a note of encouragement to read the article, or some further insight to it. All messages can be tailored to suit the purpose of each channel.
Posting content produced by the company is another relevant approach. For an employee advocate, this can mean spreading the word of an open position (you’re welcome, HR), or referring to the company’s newest blog post, for example.
With Employee Advocacy solutions like Smarp, users can also propose content for sharing, thus contributing to what good pieces of content are being put out there. All of the content on the platform will be approved by admins, so employees don’t need to lose sleep over whether they can in good conscience share a particular piece or not.
Most likely, the advocate shares a range of different kinds of posts through the platform. This is a smart approach in terms of optimal impact and keeping things versatile.
Mind you, all of this is voluntary, and employees must want to do it in order for the arrangement to be beneficial for both parties.
So why should a) the employer, b) the employee get involved with Employee Advocacy?
The employer can:
– Leverage its employees’ networks, which have a bigger potential reach than all of the company’s social media pages combined
– Create an authentic image of itself as an employer
The employee can:
– Easily find relevant and professional content to share
– Become a recognized expert in their field
While Employee Advocacy revolves, thus, largely around branding the company, and polishing the employees’ own brands in the process (personal branding made easy), there’s also a third aspect involved. It is also about providing value to one’s social media networks, no spamming included.
This is easy with an Employee Advocacy platform, which can be used to track how the content is getting through and engaging people. This is valuable information for analyzing the type of content that needs to be put out there and what people are looking for.
Success 101: Communicate
Employee Advocacy is not only a powerful tool for showing off and improving the company culture, it is also a strategy that needs to be communicated to and embraced by all departments in the organization in order for it to work in the best possible way.
It’s important that the goals of program are also communicated to everyone in the company, starting from C-level. The management must know the value of investing in a program such as Employee Advocacy, so they can motivate employees to make it happen. Having said that, it’s just as important for employees to realize the perks in it for them, because the more time and effort they spend on it, the more they can get out of it.
As a marketing professional, I can concur that leveraging our employees’ reach on social media greatly boosts our marketing activities: driving traffic to our site, getting people interested in what we do and making them want to get involved in it.
In terms of my own brand, Employee Advocacy has increased the amount of content and contacts I have on LinkedIn, my pool of social media skills, and my eagerness to share posts about my work.
Employee Advocacy is a powerful tool for increasing contact with prospects, peers, colleagues, friends and influencers. By posting interesting content, you can reach people, and hopefully, also make them reach out to you.