Employee Advocacy is where we are now seeing the effects of Social Media and the power of Social Networks work on behalf of the employee and brand together, however only if done correctly. Otherwise, it’s just another brand request which can work against us or fall on deaf ears!
First let me share my favorite definition of this most recent hot topic.
Employee advocacy is defined as, “the promotion of an organization by its staff members.”
A business may ask employees to actively promote the organization, often through social media, as an element of their jobs. However, the most compelling employee advocacy consists of freely-offered communications on the part of the workforce. The question of whether or not staff members are likely to freely promote an organization is highly related to the degree of employee engagement in the workplace, and employee engagement is largely a factor of the corporate culture and the employer’s ability to make working for them a positive experience.
So many brands are working on this effort, and there are so many variations that it is tough to gage how strong it is across the board. It still feels like it is brand and content driven rather than people driven. We believe that there must be an initiative to train and coach employees so they understand the benefit themselves (WIFM) first, then for the brand. From our observations, these brands are the strongest.
Being a “show me” type person, I have put down some of the stats that jump out at me as we research the net and ask our friends focused on this space. I especially like the lift on blocking stat by Gartner, this shows that even the most compliant environments are loosening up and shifting to the employee being trained and doing the right thing on behalf of themselves and the brand.
HR and Company Culture – As employees become part of the “brand” culture, they automatically become raving fans and attract their network to that workplace. See some of the evidence below.
Sales and Marketing Leads – Employees hold a stronger voice than most brands, meaning that people trust other people before they trust brands. If you activate the culture, you then activate the brand from a better position. See the stat below that employee content ranks over brand content shared by over 8x.
Employee Communications – Great communication, produces great everything else. Once people communicate internally and externally with social media, then all areas work in part on behalf of the whole company.
Brand Awareness – When we speak of humanizing the brand, it brings life through the employees to the brand. It’s an automatic trust builder. People trust and buy from people, they pay attention to what their friends say and do. This supports and builds the brand faster than any other method, and at a lower cost!
HR Perspective (Source: Jobvite):
When we are training our clients, we use our methodology of social teaming. See: Social Teaming Definition. You are simply selecting a team of people inside the organization, then forming them into clusters and then becoming a hub. This can be started by following the simple guidelines below:
Every project starts as a pilot. It never happens when a company says, “yes, lets change our culture and breed employee advocates on behalf of our brand”. Although companies like Starbucks, IBM, Dell, Sprint, SAP and others have surged into Employee Advocacy with both feet, they all start as pilots. The great news is that you don’t have to be a fortune 500 company to make this happen. It’s imply a top down initiative and people are trained and supported on being advocates. So what are the steps we recommend and take with our clients?
** Coaching is always on the bubble here and needs to be left in as a priority. Everyone learns at a different rate. They need support and a place to go for assistance.
Many times organizations make this the elephant project and then wait, delay and miss windows of opportunity, overspend on marketing, retention, recruiting, etc. While all along they just need to simply start to shift the culture to root and talk for the brand.
It is really easier than it feels. We love talking to companies and groups about this topic, so please call me if you want to have a discussion. The companies that get this will be growing and surging faster than their competition.