What was once personal is now digital. Employee advocacy has shifted from being something done in person to something that is shared via social media. Employee advocacy is the promotion of a company by the people who work for it, and social media’s integration into our everyday lives has helped employers reimagine how to foster such advocacy. It offers businesses another tactic to enrich their social media strategy by promoting their values and culture in order to attract new hires, empower current employees and become a stronger organization.
Benefits of Employee Social Advocacy
Social media is more than tweets, likes and cute baby photos. Marketing professionals use it to expand their professional network, develop new skills and keep up with industry trends. Engaged employees want to hone and expand their expertise. By encouraging more involvement with industry peers, you’re setting them up to grow as individuals, and to fuel your company’s growth with new ideas. This is a boon to each employee’s professional development, but benefits the business as well–people want to work for employers who encourage them to continue learning and strive for success.
While advocacy is extremely important for your staff’s personal growth, it also can attract potential employees, generate new revenue streams and reduce marketing expenses. Marketing is costly, and in an age where more publishers are focused on incorporating sponsored content and paid ads in their social media strategy–free, organic social media coverage for your brand reaches significantly further.
It may sound simple, but developing and launching an employee advocacy program takes time and commitment.
First Step to Building Employee Advocacy
Before employees will be receptive to promoting your business on social media channels, you must make sure your company is worth bragging about, and your people feel valued.
Recognize and Reward
The best way to reinforce your company’s values is to recognize and reward those who practice them every day. If you don’t have a recognition program, create one. If you have one, it may be time to reassess your strategy and connect with employees for feedback.
At C. Blohm & Associates, we recognize individual performance through our Gold Star program. Each employee has an envelope in a designated area, where colleagues can place an anonymous note listing which company value was demonstrated, and a short message. Each week, the notes are counted, and whomever receives the most accolades is presented with the “Gold Star”, along with a gift card of their choosing.
The program is simple to execute, and encourages employees to be personally vested in doing a good job, while showing appreciation to their coworkers at the same time. When a company has a true team/family spirit, employees often feel more valued and excited to share thoughts about their workplace with peers in and out of the industry.
The Open-Door Policy
Another piece of the employee happiness puzzle is providing an opportunity to make a positive difference within the company. This is best facilitated when managers have a genuine open-door policy. Management must be receptive to feedback and be willing to address issues head on. Acknowledging a concern publicly reassures the individual raising it, and shows others you are listening, and care.
Looking to take your company marketing on the road? What better way than with company-branded apparel? Employees who enjoy their work will wear branded materials both in the office and in their community, which reaches audiences who may be unfamiliar with your brand.
Strategies to Implement an Employee Social Advocacy Program
Once your company feels that it has created a positive and encouraging culture, it’s time to put your Employee Social Advocacy Program in place. The program does not need to match this example to be successful, but these tips will get you started:
1. Locate your savvy social media employees. Every organization has employees who are passionate about using social media. Select a group varying roles, genders, ages, hobbies, etc. The more diverse the group, the more audiences your content will reach.
2. Invite them to form a Social Advocacy Program. At a small gathering, recognize each employee’s notable contributions to the company to be sure they feel valued and special.
3. Provide the details. Share a few quick bullets on the importance of industry networking and building a personal brand on social media. Having set the stage, announce that you’ve assembled this group of people for their special talents, and they’ve been chosen to promote the company. Keep the rules and guidelines simple–this program will succeed because they, not you, are writing the content. Help them get started, then step aside.
4. Recognize the group company-wide. Once the group has found its footing, announce its efforts and accomplishments across the company. If your analytics show a significant increase in impressions and/or engagement (as they should!), celebrate with a small, company-wide launch party. Position your new advocates as leaders in this space.
5. Encourage everyone to get involved. Use the members from the initial launch as role models for other employees. If their peers are looking to get involved, have your initial group help them join the team!
6. Set goals. Set targets and publicize them internally. Once objectives are met, organize another gathering to celebrate accomplishments. Continuous excitement over the initiative keeps employees engaged.
Every company has unique cultures, norms and rules. It’s important to tailor the advocacy program to meet your company’s needs. Show your employees that you are taking this initiative seriously and your organization will see a higher ROI from its social media strategy.
Education companies have adapted their workplace environment, products and marketing tactics to a rapidly changing digital world, so it’s only natural to adapt your employee advocacy too. A detailed, well-executed advocacy program will inspire employees to become further invested in their careers, and in taking your organization to the next level.