Employer Branding

Why You Need Employee Advocates

It’s not a fad, it’s not a fluffy HR initiative played out around the edges of your real purpose; it really works. Employee advocacy can make a real difference.

This is what Neal Schaffer, CEO of Maximize Your Social has to say about why your employees are best suited to be your brand storytellers in social media:

  • People “own” brands through their perception of the brand, not the marketing department.
  • Who better than to influence the perception of your brand than those who truly understand it at its deepest level, your employees?
  • People trust people more than brands. Your employees are your brand’s secret weapon in building trust with the public.

Smart organizations use a blend of new media and traditional marketing channels to disseminate content and engage with the marketplace. Advocacy adds to the mix by fielding employees who are proud and motivated enough to share content via their personal networks.

Why it works

Employee advocates endorse the products or services of their firm to others such as friends, relatives, and co-workers.

Your sales and marketing specialists focus on sales volume and effectiveness of the process but advocates promote the overall success of your organization, providing a real-time link with external stakeholders, to build and strengthen your brand reputation.

Employee advocacy offers a very real opportunity to enhance competitive advantage. To promote employee advocacy the organization needs to have a strong understanding of key drivers that underlie organizational citizenship.

How it works

Employee advocacy is effective because:

  • Information spreads quickly via advocates, so the organization reaches a target audience more rapidly than might be achieved by using more traditional broadcasting or corporate accounts
  • The audience perceives messages from advocates as more interesting and reliable than messages from the organization
  • Connecting is easier. If the audience wants to hear more about a product or service, or just wants to comment on a post, it’s easier to make contact with employee advocates through social media than it is to contact the organization

Using employees as advocates for the organization is not an end goal in itself, but a means to achieve overall strategic goals.

Employees become influencers in their own networks (and hopefully further) through the professional content they share and the connections they make with other influencers. The value lies in increasing reach, raising the right questions and having informative answers. High-quality content provides solutions to current problems, sparks discussion and invites input from interested parties.

Connecting with customers

A 2015 Forrester report points out that “Advocate marketing multiplies the number and reach of voices talking about you, at a much lower cost than traditional print and paid online channels. Beyond quantity, advocate content and interactions are more valuable because buyers see them as authentic validation, not paid promotion.”

Employee advocates create awareness and engagement for the organization, so rather than investing in “paid” media, it is a question of tapping into the inherent goodwill and expertise of the workforce. When someone in the wider advocate-leveraged network mentions a brand in social media posts, tweets, product reviews, videos, photos and dialogue in online communities, that’s “earned” media. It’s immediate, influential and cost-effective.

In essence, the organization benefits from employees who internalize brand values and commit to helping their organization achieve its vision, (Wallace & de Chernatony, 2009).

When staff communicates with consistent content to their wider advocate network, it offers the organization access to an audience who are inclined to have a level of engagement with the brand that employees represent.

A formal employee advocacy programme can shorten the sales cycle. Nearly 64% of organizations who institute a formal programme credit employee advocacy with attracting and developing new business, and nearly 45% attribute new revenue streams to employee advocacy. It’s an influential way of building customer trust and attracting sales leads.

Adapted from the book Employee Advocacy: The Ultimate Handbook.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.