The Need for Employee Advocacy and Everything Around It
The internet boom in the past decade has brought about some significant changes in the corporate world. From employee engagement to marketing strategies, there has been a literal shift from manual processes to digital platforms.
With digital advancements, the efforts in marketing have also evolved and the use of social media has popularized with time.
Organizations have now opted for the most efficient ways to maintain their marketing presence in the form of an effective employee advocacy program.
If you are new to the term, then you don't need to search further. The article is solely aimed to provide an in-depth insight into what it is consists of and what you need to successfully incorporate it.
Read more: Recognition in Employee Advocacy
What Does Employee Advocacy Mean?
Employee advocacy is the promotion of a company and its brand on social media with by the employees of the organization. It has been a marketing tactic for decades, however, with the recent digital advancements it has gained massive popularity. With the world becoming more progressive in the digital front, the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Twitter, and many more have increased both in terms of personal and professional use.
These platforms have made it easy to share content, create brand exposure, boost a company's online presence, and increase the organization's to connection with the target audience without any hassle. However, it might not be possible if your employees do not share company related information in social media platforms and become the active employee advocates of the organization.
Why are they called employee advocates? Let us jump into our next section and know more about these advocates.
Who Are these Employee Advocates?
Employee advocates are the spokesperson or brand ambassadors for your company and the products that your organization has to offer. Anyone in the company can be an employee advocate regardless of their job description.
An employee advocate focuses primarily on:
Brand awareness in social media platforms.
Recommendation of company services to friends and family members.
Building a strong marketing background for the company.
Employee Advocacy Importance:
When a business is growing at a rapid pace, its brand exposure and market presence should improve accordingly.
To elevate your brand and marketing efforts, the program plays a crucial role.
Here are a few points on how the program can play a significant part:
The program allows the active participation of employees that can be incentivized. Increased participation will improve your reach in social media.
Providing benefits through the program means your employees will be more engaged and will help the less social-savvy individuals in the workforce get the necessary recognition.
It also helps an organization to cut slash the marketing budget and save a tremendous amount of money.
With this program, employees become active marketers where they promote the company culture and the products on social media platforms. It increases the online traffic and presence of the company.
Why the Need of Employee Advocacy:
Job seekers are always in the lookout to know more about an organization. The advocacy program helps with that.
Millenials are active advocates of the program and tend to share informative content in social media.
People are more inclined towards the content shared by an employee rather than the content which is shared by the organization.
Advocacy program leads to refferals and the referred employees are more loyal towards the organization.
Employees under the advocacy program spend more than 5 hours in social media which increases the online presence of the organization.
Employee advocacy participants feel that the program helps them in expanding their professional reach.
How does the program work?
It usually starts with the voluntary participation of an employee and out of genuine interest.
An organization should not force its employees to be their advocates. Employees should feel that the information and the products are worth sharing. Furthermore, they should have the autonomy to share and post what they find is relevant.
Asking employees to share content might give you immediate results but might harm the initiative in the long run and will not produce the expected results.
Key points to keep in note before starting the program:
1. Choosing the Right Platform/Tools:
Before you start an advocacy program, the first step is to select the right tool or platform that suits best for the organization. There are numerous tools available to ensure the smooth running of these programs.
So, how do these tools help?
These tools give you a structured platform where the employees are connected through their social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. Here, they get access to a single dashboard, which is controlled by a platform administrator.
Once the administrator gathers and pushes new shareable content, they can share the links on the dashboard.
It informs the employees about the newly generated content which they can share on their handles of various social networking sites.
Furthermore, this increases the productivity of employees as well as improve the marketing performance of the company.
But, for tools to be successful among the employees, the functioning of the tools which you will use must be documented well. You can organize sessions highlighting the importance of the tool and how it will help the advocacy program.
2. Having a Goal:
For an employee advocacy program to succeed, a company must set goals that are realistic and achievable.
Goals can include:
Increasing product sales.
Active participation of employees.
Increase organic market reach with the help of social media.
Cut down marketing costs.
Improve brand value.
Focusing on talent acquisition.
Your goals will reflect the outcome and results of the program. Once you understand how it works, it becomes easier to implement the program in your organization.
3. Employees Joining the Program:
The number of employees involved affects the employee advocacy program because it creates more social sharing. It grows the global social network and connections of the company. When more employees join, the chances of the program to gain popularity increases.
Thus, helping the program become more sustainable in the long run.
4. Polished Profiles in Social Media:
Help the employees create a clean and complete profile on social media.
An employee's detailed profile will help the target audience on social media to engage and connect with the employee.
A detailed profile provides the required information about the company and the product you want to portray, leading to audience growth. Once an interested candidate goes through the complete profile, they might feel inclined to contribute towards the company's vision and goals.
Thus, leading to the recruitment of top talents around the globe, which will help the organization to maintain a global presence.
5. Benefits for Employees:
It's essential to explain to your employees the benefits that they will get while being on the program.
The benefits can be include:
Incentives: A company can provide incentives and perks to those employees whose active participation helps the advocacy program to grow.
Career Growth: Sharing company content often helps the employee build their credibility and personal brand. They are often thought of as an essential part of the company by the target audience, which allows them to influence others. In return, it helps them to enhance their marketing skills and become active influencers for the company.
6. Creating a Culture:
The company should trust the employees about what they are doing and build an organizational culture that is based on transparency. The members should have the freedom to share their content, which helps to create an open culture and fosters autonomy.
It builds the program in steps and creates a foundation. An influential culture of trust and loyalty built upon its employees will lead to better chances of a successful advocacy program.
Investing time and money in the content helps the program grow with time. Updating blogs on a routine basis should be one of the prime targets. Blogs help the buyers to understand what products you have, which might interest them in investing and increase the company's revenue.
Organize events creating awareness about the program among the new recruits. Explain to them the benefits and the positive impact it will have on their performance as well as the company's exposure. Thus, providing employees a learning opportunity where they can develop their skills and enhance their qualities
The Main Advantages of Employee Advocacy
1. Social Network Reach-
The number of employees will increase the size of the social network of an organization, which will lead to market boost and product popularity.
Let us consider a company with 100 employees who have been successfully running the advocacy program. Because of a vast social network, the number of shares will increase, which will help in network exposure and improve marketing. In turn, it increases sales and employer branding.
But when compared to the company with the same number of employees who have not opted for the program, you will see a huge difference. They will have less social network influence and less branding.
The reason behind the success of an advocacy program is that an organization should remember, a buyer trusts employees more than the brand. And the more trust you gain, the more your company will grow.
2. Employee Engagement:
The program helps the employees to understand the company’s values and how it functions internally. As a manager, if you are transparent about the developments, employees feel connected with the organization. When they feel involved, the employees can influence others to join the organization and become leaders in the marketing world. They will become much more productive, engaged, and involved in their job as they will have a greater sense of responsibility.
3. HR and Recruitment:
The advocacy program helps build networks and connections, which in turn helps attract customers as well as potential candidates.
When an employee shares about a job opening available in the company, people will go through the article. People trust the employees often more than the organization itself.
If the content has relevant information, more people will share it. Further, increasing the reach, improve brand presence, and growth of the company.
Moreover, it makes recruitment easy for the organization. Employee referrals are one of the most effective ways to recruit top talents. The referred employees are more comfortable to hire, perform at their peak, and stay longer in the company.
The Main Challenges Involved:
Higher authorities must be convinced to back the program with credible and positive outcomes. When you have the higher authorities on your side, the program has the chance to run smoothly with all the necessary and required tools.
Another challenge that usually comes up is that the administrator does not give enough importance to the program. It happens as they know very little about it and do not want to get involved around it. So, understanding the program is important and how it is beneficial for everyone.
Furthermore, companies need employees participation and have to get them involved. It is crucial to get them involved for the success and sustainability of the program.
Sustainability of the Program
The program needs to be in an organization for an extended period for it to succeed. Sustainability is the key to bring out the full potential of the program and its long-term benefits for the organization.
You can consider the following points for the sustainability of the program:
1. Executives Backing:
For an employee advocacy program to continue in the long run, it is essential that the higher executives also get involved in the program and support the program.
Their involvement will give the employees a sense of security and boost their confidence in what they do. The more involved the executives are in the program, the more positive results the employees are likely to produce which will boost their morale within the organization.
2. Keep Enthusiasm:
In the long run, the advocacy program might get monotonous, and employees might lose interest. So, what should you do about it?
The answer is simple. Keep the employees as interested in the program as they were at the start. To do this, an organization can double the incentives or gamify it from time to time.
The incentives can range from corporate benefits, workplace recognition to monetary rewards. Team building activities are also another form of idea to keep your employees’ spirit high and enthusiastic.
It may look like a lot of work, but having an effective employee engagement program in place will help the cause in the long run.
3. Daily Schedules:
A company can appoint an administrator to check up on the day-to-day work and update the progress. It is only achievable when advocacy tools are modernized every now and then.
Admin can schedule tasks in the advocacy tool for the employees to share content and set a particular window about when to finish the job.
These tools help the admin to keep an analytical track of the shares and the employees who have shared the most number of articles.
4. Plan the Launch:
To launch the program, first set everything in order and gather the best content for the employees to share. Make sure that the participating employees are active and ready to share materials.
Once you schedule a launch, do not expect immediate results and give some time for the program to run. With time you will see the positive effects it provides to the company.
Employee Advocacy Tools That You Need to Consider
You might now have a clear understanding of what revolves around employee advocacy and how you can kick start the program from scratch. However, even after proper planning and execution, you will need a platform that already makes your job easier.
If you are still wondering about which platforms you need to look out for then worry not. Here are some of the employee advocacy tools already available in the market that you need to consider.
One of the top-notch platforms that allow you to schedule and post content to the right channels which can be tracked effectively is Hootsuite. With Hootsuite, you can also strengthen relationships with your customers by connecting with them in real-time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the platform allows you and your employees to strengthen the skills with the Hootsuite Academy feature.
2. Bambu by Sprout Social
Bambu is another platform developed by Sprout social. It is a platform that allows organizations and their employees to share curated content across all the social media platforms so that you can amplify your brand’s reach throughout this corporate world.
The platform also has the feature on which employees have shared the most number of contents across all the social media platforms. And based on this, you can start recognizing and rewarding your best employees.
3. LinkedIn Elevate
LinkedIn Elevate has been helping businesses successfully run their employee advocacy program. They make content sharing effortless and increases the visibility of the company. Elevate enables you to see how your shares have been making an impact and how your professional brand is building up with in-depth analysis.
The Elevate tool is more effective when employees spend more time in LinkedIn itself and share content according to the ongoing trends. The mentioned tool also helps HR’s in social recruitment via the platform. All in all, it is a tool you can seriously consider for your employee advocacy program.
Smarp is an employee engagement and advocacy tool that helps companies have a far greater social reach along with excellent engagement levels. The tool is mostly an internal hub where all the company updates are shared to keep the employees updated.
Once an employee feels that particular content is valuable they can bookmark it and share it in different social media platforms. Smarp also keeps track of all the activities with its metric tracking so that no organization lacks behind in engaging their employees.
Sociabble is another excellent tool that provides employee advocacy where employees can drive social media influence to increase reach, traffic, and conversion rates. And it does not limit itself there only.
It has some extra added features like the internal communication tool to drive effective communication through a centralized hub that is easy to use.
Another feature to keep in mind is the social selling feature that allows employees to boost lead generation through social media influence. Sales teams can demonstrate their expertise, engage, generate, and track leads with the help of social selling.
Further, boosting employee engagement and empowering employees.
The program will need a tremendous amount of patience and effort to grow. This growth can flourish with everyone's participation in the company. One should not expect results right after implementing it. We all know that "Rome was not built in a day", so give the program some time to run and stick with it. You will see the positive results and feedback it generates for the company in the long run.