What is employee advocacy?

Employee advocacy can do wonders for a company’s reputation. Instead of just spending thousands of pounds on marketing and recruitment sites to boost their brand and attract outstanding talent, many companies rely on their own staff to act as natural brand ambassadors.

Here’s a quick overview of the approach some companies take to achieve employee advocacy and why it can be so beneficial.

 

What is employee advocacy?

There’s a reason that user generated reviews have become so popular online. People trust people. Any company out there could tell you that they’re amazing, but why should you believe them? Clever marketing and slick branding can do a lot for your company’s image. But these will only get you so far when it comes to building trust for your business.

Employee advocacy has put a twist on traditional marketing and recruitment methods. It refers to encouraging your own employees to become natural brand ambassadors.

These days, there are so many online media options for sharing; from social networks and video streaming services to blog platforms and vlogging channels. People use these every day in a personal capacity; sharing ideas, images, thoughts, opinions and advice to others, and often influencing their decisions in the process. 

Many companies are reluctant to allow their employees to discuss the business on their personal online networks. An indicator of this is the number of people who stipulate that ‘views are their own’ when posting Twitter content. Similarly, a lot of companies’ social media channels are reserved for professionally curated content about the business, with no mention of employees whatsoever.

But many brands are realising that giving employees creative licence to discuss the company can actually do wonders for their image. Equally, creating a more casual, personal tone for their corporate channels can do a lot to humanise the brand.

 

Does it work?

This is great in theory but surely there is risk associated with employees discussing the company online?

There is, and for this reason many companies take a structured approach to employee advocacy. Staff can post about specific product launches, events and company initiatives but content needs to be reviewed or adhere to certain guidelines. This does minimise risk but it also depletes the authenticity of the content. 

If employees are encouraged to post about their company’s activity as, when and how they want, this produces a much more organic result. It really comes down to your company culture. If yours is a business that offers open communication, mutual trust and generally happy employees, then you’ll probably feel comfortable encouraging employee advocacy without censorship.

Good examples of this are companies whose employees share their projects on Linkedin or discuss recent events they’ve enjoyed at the company. Photos of team hackathons or screenshots of your video chats and remote weekly catch ups can serve as a natural showcase of the culture and collaboration that exists within your team. Charity drives, personal achievements and blogs about how the team has solved particular challenges are also good examples of organic employee advocacy in action.

 

What’s the benefit of employee advocacy?

There are many benefits. First of all, employee advocacy can humanise your brand like nothing else. If potential clients or job candidates see your company as a bunch of nice, hard-working and trustworthy people, they’ll associate those values with your brand.

It also extends your reach to a much wider audience. Who knows what contacts your staff members might have in the online world? Rather than going out and targeting sales leads yourself, employee advocacy can often do the job for you, without a hard sell in sight!

 

How to implement employee advocacy

The first step towards employee advocacy is to encourage staff to interact with your company’s social media channels; liking sharing and commenting on posts. This shows that you’re a company made up of humans and it will extend your reach immediately. As well as sharing professional developments socially, celebrate personal achievements, fun activities and interesting news about your team. Let your employees know that they’re welcome to do the same on their own social media channels!

Do be very clear with your staff about what is (and isn’t) acceptable to say about your company. Some businesses may have NDAs in place with clients and not be allowed to discuss work in progress for legal reasons. Equally, your team needs to understand that any offensive or abusive content will not be tolerated (in the same way that it wouldn’t be in the office!)

Most people tend to post positive content about their place of work anyway. If you’re concerned that this might not be true for yours, it might be time to have an open discussion with your team to identify any issues and aim to overcome these as a bigger business priority.

 

Employee advocacy in action

At Signify, we’re proud to have a friendly, casual culture that celebrates friendship, collaboration and open communication between colleagues. Our company social media channels are bursting with fun photos of professional and personal achievements, great days out (or great days ‘in’ during lockdown) and events. We believe in working together to solve human problems, using technology as an enabler to make it all possible.

If you have an objective to achieve or a challenge to discuss, get in touch! Let’s solve it together.

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