It’s important for businesses to tap into the power of their people – and how they possess a deeper understanding of customer needs – as well as the type of digital comms they want to interact with.
Empowering staff can transform a firm’s online presence and ROI too, because customers often trust those they know over an organisation’s marketing messages.
And, that’s where an Employee Advocacy Programme can effectively be rolled out.
Having such a scheme is not only a better way to spread the word and generate meaningful relationships with an audience, but it’s also a digital extension of word-of-mouth marketing.
It’s a chance for people to promote who they work for – and what better way than via the social media channels they know their target market engages with most?
Why employee advocacy?
Introducing a programme should be viewed as an additional comms channel to amplify brand content authentically – and it can be done at a much lower cost than other, paid-for, media.
However, it isn’t an overnight success. This scheme is a long-term process that needs a framework to be successful. It’s not a ‘one post and done’ kind of strategy.
Constant reinforcement internally will help people understand – and remember – why advocacy is important to the company, because it can be easy to lose sight of, particularly when it’s not part of a marketer’s daily responsibilities.
Done right, employee advocacy can lead to multiple business-wide benefits, including increased sales and positive sentiment. But, how does an organisation empower their staff to become a thought leader within their industry, and supercharge the brand through personalised comms.
1. Get management buy-in
Without directors supporting the programme, ideas can instantly fall flat. Not only should they believe in the concept, but ideally, be participating in it too.
Brands are often seen as more honest and trustworthy if the C-suite is engaged on social media. When upper management openly supports and recognises the value of the initiative, it can help drive engagement throughout the ranks and make more people become active online.
2. Set advocacy goals
Consider what the organisation is trying to achieve through advocacy, use effective and measurable goals to create a foundation of success. For example, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) can be applied with goals such as, ‘Create a programme that increases blog traffic by 15% in the next quarter.’
Marketers should relay the priorities to staff and gauge the feedback, in order to make more informed decisions on how to proceed.
3. Recruit people into the programme
When an enterprise is ready to invite people to join the scheme, the business must understand that workforces are incredibly busy – so they need a real reason which explains why taking part is so important – and the benefits to them.
Drive success by effectively communicating the plans with staff, underline their expectations of involvement, outline the framework, and highlight how it will integrate into their everyday work.
4. Offer incentives
Unlike the money-for-time exchange that often happens with brand influencers, rewarding advocates should be different.
Of course, staff may welcome extra cash in their pockets, but it should be about much more than that. Could a contest be launched challenging everyone to share a particular piece of content, and win a chance to be entered into a prize draw? This can help create a buzz around a specific sales or marketing campaigns in particular.
Trusting employees is imperative for such a programme to take flight, therefore how about allowing the most engaging – or creative – social media champions to take charge of the company’s accounts?
Meanwhile, it’s vital to track the firm’s top sharers and provide managers with the information to showcase the positive contribution they are making to the programme. A leaderboard system can help with this, encouraging healthy competition and maybe a reward at the end of each month?
5. Encourage contributors and maintain engagement
Operationally, it should be easy for colleagues to deliver strong content on social media. They may need extra software tools or training, so offer it to them!
Sharing content for professional reasons is completely different to pushing something out regarding a personal subject. Therefore, keep new advocates engaged by commenting and liking posts and giving online shout-outs.
Encouraging at all levels of management can prove to be hugely encouraging for participants and may entice others to join in.
6. Create crucial content
Making the programme scalable should be an ongoing process – especially for those in big companies with hundreds of staff.
While it’s a good start to share content from corporate accounts, a successful initiative should have a repository of content that a workforce can use.
Whether it’s graphics or articles written by copywriters, marketers, sales or other teams, ensuring they have the time and resources to create the killer content, is vital.
It’s also well worth encouraging staff to write their own words when using posts so that it is authentic, sincere and familiar to their social media following.
7. Celebrate team efforts
If managers don’t appreciate the impact of an Employee Advocacy Programme – and how the work ties into the overall business objectives – then support simply won’t be there.
Taking the time to understand how sharing valuable social content can impact the company’s bottom line and help towards website traffic metrics, lead generation, brand awareness and more, should go some way to tackling this.
And – drawing back to point four – managers should be celebrating successes within the team. For example, offering to bolster their social network by following accounts or sending positive messages to the individuals can all help towards boosting morale.
8. Promote collaboration
An effective programme helps people feel valued and part of a well-oiled, supportive team that shares insightful content across a far-reaching audience.
Getting the attention of the company’s target market is a challenge in today’s highly digital world – especially when brand content isn’t as trusted as it once was – so staff members should be viewed as the lifeblood of the organisation.
Employee advocacy is another communication channel that companies can use to amplify content authentically and deepen relationships. So, what are enterprises waiting for?