Employees can promote the brand they work for on their personal social media accounts to extend the brand’s reach, increase sales and influence customer impressions. Before it can happen, brands need to integrate employee advocacy into their marketing strategy and learn how to make employees start sharing.
As more and more content is produced and shared every day, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to ensure that their messages are seen and interacted with on social media. In such competitive circumstances, every little bit helps, and there are significant quantifiable benefits to be reaped from consumer advocates. However, the truly powerful, but yet untapped force are your employees. After all, they have first-hand insight into the company culture, and customers value their opinions more than anyone else’s.
By sharing content about the brand on their personal accounts, they extend the total reach of the brand. Among the most valuable assets is their presence on social networks that are beyond the scope of the brand. Some of them may follow trends and join all the latest social networks, or perhaps they are active members of various online communities and discussion boards.
However, the cold, hard numbers don’t lie: up to 63% of employees are not engaged in any kind of advocacy that would benefit the brand. It’s clear that they need encouragement.
If you are the person responsible for creating an employee advocacy policy for your brand, you need to start with yourself. Don’t just ask what employees can do for you; ask what you can do for them as well. The guidelines you’re developing as a part of this policy should bring value to both sides. And since you’re asking, don’t forget to listen to what your employees are saying. Keep them engaged by asking for opinions, recommendations and ideas for improvement of your product and the brand itself.
The choice of motivation methods depends on several factors, starting from the size and budget of your company, so you should incorporate them into your strategy to an extent that is most suitable for your brand. Here are some examples of what you can do to motivate your employees. Of course, there are other ways to make employee advocacy work, and you’re sure to find more advice as the trend continues to grow.
Make them feel comfortable
It’s just common sense – if your employees don’t enjoy working for you, there is hardly anything that will make them want to help your brand by writing positively about it on their social media accounts. You have to create a friendly, supportive environment that accommodates their needs and sparks productivity. This doesn’t apply only to company culture; it’s also quite literally about the workplace itself.
By making the workplace look cool, you’ll make your employees feel special and comfortable. They will be happy to share photos of their visually attractive surroundings, and social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are the perfect target for this kind of content. If you can’t afford a complete makeover, bring in the small refreshments. Introduce eye-catching details and useful utilities. Let them bring their pets or children to work. Encourage “casual Fridays” and relaxed brainstorming sessions.
Make it clear
In the early phase of preparing your employee advocacy policy, you’ll have to assess the current situation through social analytics to measure social conversations about your brand. There are many social media monitoring tools to help you, and in this process you’ll learn what makes the audience tick. After that, it should be easy to set realistic goals based on the gathered data.
These goals and visions need to be clearly communicated and explained to your employees. Your employee advocacy strategy should include clear rules for posting on social media, as well as helpful resources for resolving potential conflicts. Establish ethical principles and define your expectations, but don’t make your employees afraid of making a mistake. Train them on how to become good brand advocates and teach them how to turn blunders into constructive lessons.
Make it fun and easy
Sharing your branded content shouldn’t feel like a chore to your employees. Instead, it should be effortless and as simple as possible to reduce the potential learning curve and training time. To ensure this, create content that they would want to share in the first place.
There are many content marketing tools like ClearVoice that can help you achieve consistency and sharing in an organic way. During the training process, you can teach them how to use the tools you’ve previously selected as most appropriate for your brand. With these tools, your employees can easily syndicate content across different social media. A degree of automation is welcome here, but be careful not to turn your employees’ social media accounts into an army of soulless bots.
Make it personal
Never, ever forget that your employees are PEOPLE – individuals with different personalities, interests, beliefs and communication styles. When devising your employee advocacy policy, make it possible for them to share branded content in a way that adapts to their established style on social media profiles. Sharing content that seems “off” and too different from their previous patterns will come across as inauthentic, and might not only damage the brand, but also their personal integrity.
One way to make brand advocacy genuine is to encourage employees to share personal stories related to the brand. People like to talk about themselves, so use that fact wisely. Let them speak their mind, as this makes them feel important and involved in building the brand. Introduce a hashtag related to your brand, and make it about them and their experiences, not about profit.
Make it opt-in
It’s also important that you, as an employer, understand that not everyone is good at brand advocacy. Some employees might not be interested, and that’s fine. Don’t force it on them. Instead, make it opt-in. It’s better to have a small group of quality advocates than an apathetic bunch who are doing it unwillingly. This way you can gauge who’s really enthusiastic, and then mentor those employees to become involved content curators and creators.
Make it worth their while
When you introduce the idea of employee advocacy, your employees might wonder “what’s in it for me?” – and rightly so. One of the best ways to motivate them is to offer incentives. Freebies are always great; give them small gifts, vouchers, or extra vacation days. You can also implement a gamification system with rewards. To ensure that they’re compensated fairly, don’t forget to track their success to determine who is eligible for rewards.
Make it transparent
Trust building is a two-way activity, so if you expect to inspire trust in your brand, you’d better reciprocate. You’ll be collecting data and tracking metrics anyway, and the results should be shared with your employees. Create transparent reports and reviews, and help them understand what works and what doesn’t. Developing new strategies and improving your advocacy policy can be a collective effort, and not something that happens behind closed doors.
When you set out to create an employee advocacy policy for your brand, don’t be a dictator. Instead, try to set an example of desirable practices. Make brand advocacy a part of the company culture; something that’s done naturally on all levels. That way it won’t feel like an obligation, and your employees will be more motivated to participate. You can always encourage them further with perks and workplace upgrades. If they feel that they are an essential part of the brand, advocacy will become a regular feature of their social media repertoire.