Employee advocacy has got to be the most obvious, logical answer to social media’s problem of dwindling organic traffic. In their book, The Most Powerful Brand on Earth, the authors Chris Boudreaux and Susan Emerick say,
“In social media, people – not brands – are the channel.”
Few companies copped on early in the game, and reaped massive benefits as trendsetters – we’re looking at you Zappos and Reebok – and now, of course, every brand wants a piece of the pie.
The problem is that most brands use the concept of employee advocacy only as a means to improve the social visibility of a product or service through sharing.
That’s like leaving the party at 9; right when things start to get interesting.
“We’ve seen a lot of companies get excited about the increase in social media engagement employees can bring in and have started using Advocacy tools without a structured program. Some have even seen encouraging results in the beginning, but employees stop engaging in a few weeks. Hence, it is critical to prepare well and launch a proper advocacy program with a sustenance plan.” says Gaurav Mendiratta, the Founder & CEO of SocioAdvocacy, a quintessential employee advocacy tool.
Little knowledge can be dangerous if not damaging to your efforts. Although the concept of employee advocacy may seem simple enough, a well-structured and thought out program is the foundation of a successful attempt.
You’d actually be surprised by how much more your employee speak can do over just raising awareness about your brand in the digital space.
4 Ways Employee Advocacy Helps You, Other than Social Selling
Here are 4 ways an employee advocacy program can help your company – beyond increased visibility on social media:
1. It tells your story
Who are you as a brand? Where and how did you start out?
A study by HBR that researched hundreds of brands, showed that the best way to maximize customer value was to move past simple customer satisfaction and connect with them on a more personal and emotional level – a sense of belonging, the need to succeed, or the exigency for security.
Take Coca-Cola, the eternal winner of all cola wars, for example. Through several ad campaigns and promotional activities, Coke tells the world that they are confident, friendly, and welcoming.
Who better to tell your story than those who work closest with you? Your employee advocates play an integral role in connecting with satisfied customers and giving them the extra push, the much-needed boost, that takes them from being loyal customers to brand advocates in their own right.
2. It improves work culture
A positive work culture embodies the kind of brand you want to build.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com says,
“We believe that your company’s culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand may lag the culture at first, but eventually, it will catch up. Your culture is your brand.”
Zappos has gone on to build an army of brand advocates based on their amazing work culture. By giving their employees full freedom to speak on the company’s behalf, Zappos encourages their employees to speak out about the best things they love about the company.
This takes away from the nagging problem that most companies, that have started an employee advocacy program without doing their homework, experience – how to motivate employees to advocate the brand?
Plus, endless marketing dollars won’t ever overcome a poor work culture. Just take the managerial meltdown at Uber for instance.
3. It’s a great way to engage employees
A positive work culture often yields engaged employees. When employees actually like working for you, they will advocate your brand with full gusto. But engaged employees are worth way more than just their word-of-mouth marketing skills.
But engaged employees are worth way more than just their word-of-mouth marketing skills.
A survey conducted by Gallup showed that companies with higher employee engagement percent have 3.9 times the per share earnings as compared to their competitors.
Surveys across multiple brands show that employees share brand content for three reasons –
- Pride in the organization (fairly small group)
- Incentivization or gamification (the largest group)
- Drive to be an industry thought leader (the smallest group)
Employee advocacy platforms have recognized the need to engage employees before actually converting them to brand ambassadors, and have adapted accordingly.
By now offering in-built gamification and incentivization, these platforms appeal to the primal need to compete and in the process aim to turn disengaged employees around!
In his book, Onward, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz writes –
“[Employees] are the true ambassadors of our brand, the real merchants of romance and theater, and as such the primary catalysts for delighting customers.”
By streamlining internal communications on employee advocacy tools, HR and Operations can strategically move to improve employee engagement within the organization.
4. It streamlines referral recruitment
Even though 98% of HR considers social media vital to their recruitment efforts, few actually have a structure in place that optimizes results from it.
Of course, initiating recruitment has become less problematic. By using hashtags to build an online community that drives employee engagement and work culture – think #LifeatLoreal – the company looks a lot more attractive to prospective recruits than it would have otherwise.
Going beyond social selling and simply increasing visibility for their products and services, brands should capitalize on the influence that their employees can have on the people they went to school and college with. An employee advocacy platform can help streamline a referral process immensely.
SocioAdvocacy helps you maximize the full potential of your true inner core – your employees. Request a demo and get a free trial.
This article was first published on Business2Community. You can read it here.