By definition, Employee Advocacy is the promotion of an organization by its staff members. This promotion is not limited to just hard selling; in fact, a soft approach can yield more trust. But should your organization limit advocacy efforts to staff? I don’t think so.
Most organizations have other possible spokespersons too, besides employees. The most obvious ones are, of course, clients. Some of your hand-picked customers can easily become brand advocates and receive shareable links via an Employee Advocacy Platform, along with employees.
Since I consider my clients to be students, I began to think about institutions of learning and different forms of schools. Should students be a part of school promotion and other communications through their content?
Students already possess the advocating spirit
I’m quite certain that most students already send out tons of social media messages about their school. They are guaranteed to produce some kind of image of their school for the outside world with various tools — for better or for worse. How can at least some of them be encouraged to resonate your carefully constructed messages?
It all boils down to internal communications.
- Creating one hub of shareable information. Curate a shareable information feed and really encourage sharing. Nurture that community.
- Reaching the right groups. Think about your goals and use buyer persona targeting with students as well, not forgetting the alumni! If the content is for everyone, it’s not really for anyone.
- Encouraging content creation. Carefully constructed messages become more appealing, if they contain student-generated content. Sharing content comes more easily, if it contains something that is theirs.
Like Employee Advocacy, all advocacy springs to life from well-being. When students are happy, they are also happy to share. Caring leads to sharing. So motivate students and be interested in them and the knowledge they create about your community.
Lead content creation through encouragement
Students will most likely respond better to content created by other students. And other companies and associates interested in your organization? They will also want to see what your students can create, though their needs will likely be different.
Content creation should be encouraged and the content curated for different audiences. So how do you encourage students (or employees, for that matter,) to get involved in content creation?
Support personal brands
From early on, students should be encouraged to build their own personal brands. It should be a fundamental part of their education, as sharing the process of gaining knowledge with the public is exactly the kind of content a school needs. This will appeal to recruiters too.
The perks of advocacy are realized for the student when, for example, applying for a job later, and it may also show in their credentials. If it becomes too much of a forced assignment, though, it will throw them off.
Get interested and show some trust
Students may already have done a pretty good job in creating plenty of school-related hashtags. You should trust them and their ownership of that spirit, while keeping an eye on those hashtags. Pick the best content, repost them and create your content around them. This will attract their peers.
Don’t hesitate to show everyone how clever your students are! This recognition may encourage them to produce new and prominent content.
Let them suggest
Just as students can make suggestions on which hashtags to use, they may also have content to suggest. Give them a chance to curate content for everyone to share. If you use Smarp as your content hub, everyone can recommend content easily.
By the way, it would be good if the student-curated content always featured a mention of the student whose content is shared, as a hat tip to them. This encourages them to curate more and strengthen their brands.
Encouraging content creation is really all about making it easy and useful - whether for students, employee advocates or brand advocating customers.