Employee advocacy is the holy grail for HR and Communication departments, and for good reason. Paying for advertising, writing news articles, or developing ‘discover our culture’ webpages are great, but pale in comparison to an engaged employee sharing positive first-hand endorsement.
And it’s powerful: the reach of your company branding is 24x stronger when advocated by an employee (Source: Daily Digital). After all, we live in a world powered by reviews, so why should this be any different?
Identify your ambassadors
First things first: identify your ambassadors. ‘Ambassadors’ are those within your organization who take the lead on employee advocacy, explaining to their colleagues how – and why – to advocate.
With many mediums for advocacy, a safe place to start is on social media. Even though a whopping 88% of employees have social media for their personal use (Source: Sociallymap), it’s not a given they’re willing – or equipped – to use those platforms in a professional setting.
Yes, many will reject the idea of using their personal accounts for company gain. But those aren’t the ones you want to focus on. It’s the employees who are happy and driven to promote your business that will have the strongest influence in the social sphere; i.e. the ambassadors. Spend time explaining, training and equipping these employees, encouraging them to ‘like, comment and share’ company content on social media platforms, or write an in-depth review on Glassdoor. Support and recognize their efforts; after all, it’s their voice which is your strongest communication asset.
Once you’ve identified and mobilized your ambassadors, it’s time to get the rest of the team on board.
Remember: reviews aren’t always positive. You’d be ignorant to not anticipate potentially toxic employees sharing negative experiences about your company. Chances are, your ambassadors will be outspoken. By nature, they’re not shy in letting you know how they feel. It’s the quiet, unspoken, hidden-in-the-wings employees that you need to shine a light on.
Zest can help you distinguish engaged ambassadors from disengaged – or worse; actively disengaged – employees. By launching short and relevant surveys, you can uncover the strengths and weaknesses of your company, as perceived by your employees. Insights will enable you to adjust your actions, in real-time, to align with employees’ values. For example, you might find out that 90% of your workforce value ‘employee friendships’, yet 60% feel ‘alone at work’. You could conclude to arrange more physical team-building activities to nurture such relationships.
Shining a spotlight on the real engagement levers of your employees will prepare you for any unanticipated negative critics and enable you to manage them before they do any damage.
Recognise their efforts
So, you’ve got a great group of ambassadors who are advocating for your business left, right and center. Your goal now is to keep it that way. Here are a few ideas for recognizing, and encouraging, the efforts of your top ambassadors:
- High-quality content – from thought-leading blog articles to videos to a modern website, don’t underestimate the power of good content. When employees feel proud (seeing their own profile on the ‘about us’ page of your website), can relate (a newsworthy blog article), or can participate in company successes (winning an industry award or fundraising), this is content they’re proud to share
- Social media enablement – make it easy (and brand-consistent!) for employees to update their online profiles:
- Organize a photoshoot so everyone has a professional, on-brand profile picture – this also create a sense of team community
- Provide specific content, such as company descriptions for LinkedIn or Hashtags & Handles for Twitter
- Keep company social pages active with new and regular posts so there is no shortage of content to share
- Reciprocate their efforts – use your company accounts to share, like and comment on your ambassadors’ content
- Quarterly social enablement training sessions or expert coaching to really hone home the impact of their efforts
- Launch regular surveys to glean up-to-date insights on levels of engagement or to gather new ideas
- Make it fun – organize monthly contests to crown the best ambassador or the most active digital employee and reward them with a prize (gift cards, music vouchers, lunch token…or a simple ‘thank you’ also goes a long way)
Don’t just take our word for it: Mélanie Corolleur, France Marketing Manager at Brandwatch say that “Since we launched the (employee advocacy) program eight months ago, the engagement of our employees has increased dramatically: up 123% from one month to the next. This quarter, we received more than 870,000 impressions only from employees’ participation alone” (Source: Forbes).
More and more companies are turning to employer-centered advertising campaigns which place advocacy at the center of such strategies. The likes of Nutella, Uber, Intel, American Express and Whole Foods are some of the 45% of companies currently implementing an ambassador program (Source: Com’in).
Now you’re equipped with all the knowledge, are you going to create a culture of ambassadors and discover the power employee advocacy can have on your business?