Inspiring your most powerful brand boosting advocates

DATE

25/10/21

PUBLISHED BY

Huw Morgan

I’m often consumed by a brief, incapacitating wave of fear and uncertainty when I’m about to post a new work-related article.

Will anyone read it? Do I have a coherent point of view? Is there a typo in the title? Will I get trolled? Have I written something that might upset the boss, a client or someone in the legal department?

It’s part of my job to share my thoughts and expertise on social media, which incentivises me to press the ‘publish’ button, but uncertainty and inertia prevents the vast majority of employees from ever sharing news about their company on social media.

It’s perfectly understandable, but it’s also a massive missed opportunity for brands and employees across the world.

Employees who feel equipped, motivated and empowered to say good things about their company on social media are, quite simply, a brand’s most powerful influencers and there are loads of stats out there to support the business case for supporting employee advocacy. 

According to Social Media Today, content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. 

LinkedIn research shows that companies with a successful employee advocacy programme are 58% more likely to attract, and 20% more likely to retain, top talent. 

Meanwhile, Gartner has found that, when a sales lead is generated through employee advocacy that lead is 7x more likely to close compared to other lead generation tactics.

Content shared by employees recevies 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels 

The evidence suggests that employee advocacy is good for business, but, according to LinkedIn, only 3% of employees share company-related content.

So what can businesses do to inspire the 97% of employees that aren’t talking positively about the brand on social media to get started? 

To provide some food for thought, I’ve compiled seven Advocacy Principles that can help create an environment in which employee advocates can flourish; and it all starts with purpose.

1. Create compelling content with purpose at its heart

According to US social media guru, Jay Baer: “Content is everything when it comes to employee advocacy because even the most loyal employee cannot simply post “my company is great” over and over. Content is the raw material of influence. Without content all you are is an advertisement.”

A winning employee advocacy strategy needs a steady supply of brilliant content to inspire employees to feel inspired to share it and that content needs purpose at its heart.

Unless content connects in some way to the brand’s mission or purpose, it will lack focus and coherence.

Companies need to create content that shows employees how every initiative, from sustainability targets to strategic change to the launch of a new product or service, ties back to the company’s purpose.

2. Get leadership buy-in to drive success

Aligning stakeholders behind clear, measurable advocacy objectives will help ensure you have senior sponsorship and support to sustain employee advocacy for the long term.

It’s why most of our advocacy programmes kick-off with a stakeholder alignment workshop to agree the programme goals.

3. Focus on quality first

When launching an employee advocacy programme, take a quality-first approach by 

starting with a small but capable group and give them some guidance on: potential content, topics and links to share; best days and times to post; how often to post; best use of hashtags; and suggested captions for sharing content.

With the right support, these pioneers can set the standards that will inspire others to emulate and your community of employee advocates will grow steadily from there.

4. Provide guidelines and tips

One of the key reasons employees feel reluctant to share company content with their social networks is that they’re unsure what they’re officially allowed to post.

Companies like Starbucks and HP give employees clarity on what they can and can’t say by providing clear guidelines.

5. Give people the freedom to adapt

People tend to trust employee posts over those shared through official brand channels because the views of staff are seen to be authentic.

Employees who are given the freedom to reflect some of their personality and values in their brand posts are more likely to attract a loyal following.  

6. Nurture a community that people want to join

With a core group of capable advocates up and running, it’s important to balance the support and content needs of the existing community with internal initiatives to attract new advocates.

Alongside putting the tools and support processes in place to manage and care for the existing advocacy community, we help brands develop and rollout engagement initiatives to attract new advocacy talent.

7. Track measures that excite the CEO

All employee engagement metrics should link back to real business outcomes. When getting stakeholders aligned behind clear advocacy objectives (Principle #2) it’s important to identify and track the goals that are most important to the CEO at that time. 

If the company is on an efficiency or talent retention drive, be sure to track advocacy and share metrics that show how advocacy is contributing to the business push.

By enabling through the right principles, processes and support, you can inspire more capable employees to shake off their uncertainties and start to unlock the potential of their social influence.

Want to discuss how we can help with your internal communications & employee engagement? Get in touch or read more about our services here.

Huw Morgan
Huw Morgan

Director, Internal Communications

Huw's passion is for targeted campaigns that bring brand strategy and purpose to life from the inside out. Huw has a wealth of client-side experience leading colleague engagement for major brands, including Telefonica Digital, Virgin Media and O2.

This was published by…

Huw Morgan

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