The benefits of encouraging employee advocacy within your company

Research has found consumers put more trust in employees rather than the brand itself – so more companies are using employee advocacy in their marketing strategy.
5 April 2018 | 66 Shares

With employees being found to have a high credibility rating, it makes sense that brands should look to work with colleagues. Source: Shutterstock

Social media has become a hotbed for brand marketing success; from posting information about your brand’s latest deals and promotions to macro-influencers who showcase your product to their mass following.

According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, your employees are more trusted than your brand and represent a huge potential to reach new audiences. MSL group has revealed that brand messages are shared 24 times more frequently on average when distributed by employees, rather than the brand itself.

It should come as no surprise then, that employee advocacy is fastly becoming an essential part of any comprehensive marketing strategy.

At its core, employee advocacy is the promotion of an organization by its staff members. In this article, we will discuss both the benefits and challenges of deploying an employee advocacy program.

High credibility

Since employees know their company’s products and services better than anyone else, they can speak with integrity and authenticity.

Employees have a high degree of trust in their individual networks, their friends, family, and peers are likely to listen to them and make informed decisions.

Andrew Seel, CEO of employee advocacy platform Qubist, explained to Tech HQ;

“It’s important to remember that real influence isn’t popularity but the ability to cause effect or change behavior- employees have this ability”.

Leading brands such as General Electric, L’Oreal, Sky, and ASOS are using employee advocacy successfully to gain a competitive advantage.

“Brands are now seeing the people around them as the new wave of authentic influencers and a significant part of their marketing strategy,” says Seel.

Talent acquisition

Employee advocacy has also been shown to be particularly effective at recruiting top talent. There has been a surge in the amount of company’s using social recruiting techniques- the use of social media platforms to find potential employees.

As companies compete for the brightest talent, could your current employees help with this? Source: Shutterstock.com

Companies that are utilizing that power of employee advocates are much more likely to attract the top talent in the market. Job seekers are increasingly looking at a brands social media and current employees for a feel of the company’s culture and guidance on a brand’s values and vision.

An example of a large company using employee advocacy in their recruitment strategy is Sky. The company has been using a #lifeatsky hashtag to encourage employees to share their experiences.

Value for money

Employee advocates represent an excellent value of money compared to other forms of digital marketing initiatives such as the use of influencers.

Though influencer marketing is big business right now – and undeniably a valuable marketing tool- it comes with its pitfalls.

Though influencer marketing can be a powerful tool, employees show more authenticity. Source: Shutterstock

Influencers can take a large chunk out of your marketing budget and if meaningful relationships are not built between brands, influencers, and agencies, there is the risk of damaging brand reputation.

“Transparency and disclosure is an issue for customer perception and trust, and even more so in the light of recent revelations across the industry such as the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica fiasco,” Seel explains.

Employee advocacy can really show the authenticity of your brand through the trusted voices of your workers, while also making brand reputation easier to control.

The challenges?

With this in mind, initiating an employee advocacy program does not come without its challenges.  Like influencers, if not given the right guidance and support, employees also have the potential to damage brand reputation.

Some companies have a system in place where they require the approval of any social media mentions of the brand by employees. Furthermore, many companies choose to totally discourage their employees to talk about the brand on social media for fear of reputation damage.

Many companies are wary of the impact that employees could have on brand reputation. Source: Shutterstock

But with the right support and training, allowing your employees to represent a brand voice on social media can lead to marketing success. According to Seel, onboarding training for advocates is essential, which should include, among other elements, guidance on best practice and the “do’s and don’ts” of what to post.

As well as bringing plenty of benefits to the company, it can also bring value to the employees themselves.

“For example, advocates can be provided with thought leadership pieces to engage with and share, which helps them develop their own careers,” explains Seel.

Measuring success using tools

In order to really measure your company’s employee advocacy initiatives and its effectiveness, you would do well to leverage the power of a tool.

“For brands looking to start an employee advocacy programme, they need to adopt a platform that will enable them to scale up the number of advocates quickly and measure advocate activity accurately,” explains Seel.

“Using a new tech platform to report accurate results to the wider business will ensure the success of the programme long-term and help brands optimize content and marketing activity,” he adds.

An employee advocacy platform provides several key components which are crucial to your success.

This includes data on both external and internal analytics. For external analytics, these tools can provide answers to questions such as: is your program accomplishing the goals you have set? What content is experiencing the most engagement with your new audience? How many leads is it generating?

For internal analytics, you can capture data on participation rates among employees, information on what networks your employees prefer to share content on, and more.

Platforms such as Qubist also make is easy for employees to share approved brand content across their social networks with it all in one easy-to-access space.

Additionally, various platforms allow you to add a gamification element to employee advocacy. By awarding points and prizes for activity, this will encourage employees to stay engaged on the platform.