Is there a possibility that you’re overlooking advocates that are right under your nose? Many companies and organizations say that their employees are their best and biggest asset, but this perceived value comes in many different forms. Of course, it translates directly to their contributions in the workplace, but have you considered how your employees can elicit positive brand affirmation through the credibility they afford when they discuss your brand?
At its core, employee advocacy is the promotion of an organization by its employees and although the concept has been around for decades in various forms, the internet and social media have revolutionized it and added new possibilities. With the hiring market becoming increasingly competitive and changes to the way consumers shop, focusing on employee advocacy is now more important than ever.
Employee advocacy, influencer marketing, partnership and advertising have traditionally sat under the responsibility of separate teams. But as brands streamline operations and take bold steps to achieve the omnipresence critical to maximize exposure and potential touchpoints with their consumers, we can’t afford not to have these once disparate channels remain unconnected.
According to a Nielson report, 83% of those surveyed trust recommendations from people they know, therefore it makes sense to leverage those individuals who not only instill this trust but have the subject matter expertise to communicate your products and services most effectively. Employees can be just as trustworthy, if not more so than external influencers- but how do you create a core group of employee advocates?
The first step is to identify them. Who is sharing content mindfully, generating high engagements, actively contributing content or has a high network following on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or even TikTok? Who are the subject matter experts in your business that you trust to have authentic conversations with consumers, providing insightful and valuable information? You need to find these thought leaders and begin engaging with them to have some input in what they share and to ensure your brand is benefiting from their transferred credibility.
But once identified, how do you work with these advocates to ensure they align with your wider brand message and feel motivated to promote your brand? Well, this is where it becomes a little more challenging, but certainly achievable. Culture is a big factor here, if you foster a positive workplace environment your employees will feel compelled to support the success of the business. This in turn leads to education, if employees feel engaged with the business they will be far more receptive to learning about how your brand wants products, services, and even values, to be communicated. But it’s possible to go further than this and reward your employees in line with a performance-based model.
With many brands already moving their influencer programs to sit under a pay-for-outcome model, why not attribute this same framework to your employees? This could be as simple as launching a contributor of the month program, highlighting staff members who have used their own platforms to amplify content and marketing messaging. This is easily tracked through the analytics on social platforms and could counteract the impact of dwindling organic reach on social channels experienced by many brands in this age of increased consumer control. Let’s say a company of 500 employees has 6K followers on their LinkedIn page, their potential total reach is 6K. Now, if every employee in that company had an average of 400 connections, the total reach of all employees combined is 200K.This calculates to a whopping 3233% increase in reach! By utilizing your employees’ social media networks, you have the ability to reach a much larger audience and have your message be seen by exponentially more people especially given that brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees vs. the brand.
Alternatively, you could take an even more direct approach. With the partnership channel allowing brands to access attribution methods such as exclusive-use codes, you could permit employees to utilize these to promote to their own networks. The use of codes allows an easily trackable point of truth from which you can measure the success of programs and compare it to other campaigns in the partnership channel. The initial goal here should be to define your KPIs and adapt your reward structure to motivate the right behavior from your employees for a win-win outcome.
When you take the steps to combine these channels you create the momentum to set yourself up for powerful results. So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to amplify the reach and credibility of your brand and what better place to tap into than the passion of your loyal employee base?
To learn more about maximizing all your partnerships, employees included, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.