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Nov 24, 2020

Approx. 11 min. read

Employee Advocacy: Importance, Challenges and Best Practices

Employee advocacy has a big power to drive better business performance in many different departments including sales, marketing, human resources, and...

Employee advocacy has a big power to drive better business performance in many different departments including sales, marketing, human resources, and employer branding. 

However, there are many organizations that still don’t have a clear strategy on how to better leverage their employees’ networks, achieve better business results, and optimize their social currency

In this blog, you will learn why every organization should have an employee advocacy program and how to enable employees to be successful brand ambassadors. 

brand-advocacy-statistic

📚 Before we dig deeper, also check our Guide for Communicating the ROI of Employee Advocacy

The Definition of Employee Advocacy

Even though there is no single definition of employee advocacy, we can all agree that employee advocacy includes all the actions employees take to promote their organizations to the outside world. These actions can include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing exposure and brand awareness through online and offline channels. Offline channels here means the word of mouth, while online channels include various social media platforms, forums, and online communities.  
  • Recommending a company’s products and services to a friend or a family member.
  • Representing the best interests of the company both internally and externally.
  • Continuously participating in the organization’s ambassadorship programs.
  • Encouraging others to become brand ambassadors.
  • Improving the organization’s employer brand and facilitating talent acquisition efforts.

Even though the benefits of employee advocacy are inevitable, 80% of employers have not yet implemented a comprehensive brand advocacy program.

6 Reasons to Implement an Employee Advocacy Program

There is plenty of research that proves the real power of employee advocacy. Moreover, throughout the past few years, organizations are becoming more aware of what they could achieve if their employees were acting as brand ambassadors.

Leaders from departments such as sales, marketing, and human resources are now trying to better leverage their own employees’ networks and connections to achieve specific business KPIs. 

Let’s now take a look into some interesting employee advocacy facts and statistics that emphasize the importance of brand ambassadorship in every organization.

📺 Watch a recording of our live session "Learnings from Three Employee Advocacy Programs".

1. Increase brand awareness and engagement on social media

According to Entrepreneur, social media content shared by employees gets 8 times more engagement than content shared through the brand’s own social channels, and is shared 25 times more frequently.

 employee-advocacy-marketing-benefits

Hence, it is inevitable that organizations with employee advocacy programs achieve more engagement on online channels from followers, prospects, customers, and employees. 

2. Generate and close more high-quality leads

According to Fast Company, leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7 times more frequently than other leads. Another research proved that 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know more than any other form of advertising. 

Further, organizations in which salespeople engage in social selling activities, have a much better chance of generating and closing new deals. 

employee-advocacy-sales-benefits-1

3. Build trust

How many times did you buy a product or a service recommended by a friend? Would you be more likely to trust your friend or a TV commercial? Do you see Facebook or Instagram ads as more trustworthy than recommendations from your friends or family members?

According to Edelman Trust Barometer, customers perceive staff as more trustworthy than corporate marketing.  Additionally, 77% of consumers are likely to make a purchase after hearing about it from someone they trust.

4. Improve employer brand and build better pools of talent

Social recruiting has become one of the most efficient talent acquisition strategies. Moreover,  91% of employers say that they use social and professional networks to recruit talent.

social-recruiting-brand-advocacy-1According to LinkedIn research, companies whose employees share their brand’s social content see a lift in the views that their job postings receive. Consequently, these organizations have a much lower cost per hire, and they are often considered as desirable employers to work for. 

As 69% of workers would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation even if they were unemployed, it is not surprising that every company now strives to have employer brand ambassadors.   

When employees share stories about your company culture and organizational values, your organization builds trust among potential future job candidates.  

5. Cut on costs and increase revenue

According to Kredible, on average, an employee advocacy program involving 1,000 active participants can generate $1,900,000 in advertising value. Moreover, many organizations agree that employee advocacy is the most efficient and least costly advertising method. 

Not only that employees are more trusted than corporate brands, but they can often reach a much wider audience. 

6. Improve personal brand and boost career development

Besides achieving better business results, employee advocacy can be a powerful tool for building a personal brand and driving career development among employees. 

According to Hinge, 87% of employees recognized that employee advocacy contributed to expanding their professional network, and 76% believed that it helped them keep up with industry trends. Moreover, getting involved with social media for professional purposes has helped the careers of about 69% of employees.

How to Empower Employees to Be Your Brand Advocates

Whether you have 10 or 10,000 employees, each one of them has the potential to be a brand evangelist and to help you distribute and communicate information about your organization. 

Depending on the size of your organization, your stories could potentially reach millions of people who otherwise wouldn’t see them. 

Let’s now take a deeper dive into the must-have steps for implementing a successful employee advocacy program. 

1. Set clear goals and expectations

One of the most important prerequisites for every successful employee advocacy program is defining and setting clear goals and objectives. If you want your employees to engage in your advocacy programs, they first need to understand what you are looking to achieve. 

Here are some examples of employee advocacy goals:

Marketing

  • Increase reach on social media by X%
  • Increase traffic to the website by X%
  • Increase the number of sales and marketing qualified leads by X%
  • Increase engagement on social media by X%

Sales

  • Increase the number of closed-won deals by X%
  • Reduce time to close a deal by X%
  • Reduce the cost to close a deal by X%
  • Increase the number of referrals by X%

Human Resources

  • Increase the number of qualified job applicants by X%
  • Increase the number of referrals by X%
  • Increase traffic to the career site by X%
  • Increase the reach of job openings by X%
  • Increase the number of Glassdoor reviews by X%

2. Improve internal communications

If you want your employees’ buy-in with your employee advocacy program, you need to ensure proper internal communications. In order for your employees to align with your strategy, IC departments need to clearly explain the benefits of employee advocacy for both employees personally and your organization as a whole. 

Internal communications departments also have a great power to manage information overload, motivate employees, and drive their engagement with inspiring stories. 

📚 Also, read about the must-have communication skills every communicator should have

3. Define policies and procedures

Even though many employees are willing to act as brand advocates, they are unsure about what actions to take. It is proven that organizations with clearly defined advocacy policies and procedures have much more successful advocacy programs. 

Below you see a few examples of policies and procedures that organizations with advocacy programs have in place.  

employee-advocacy-policies

Regularly communicate and train your employees about how to share content, what to avoid, and what specific actions to pursue. 

When defining your policies and procedures, consider answering questions such as:

  • How to share internal content on employees’ private social media profiles?
  • Where to find the ready-to-share content?
  • How often should the content be shared?
  • Social media do’s and don’ts
  • If so, how the ambassadors will be rewarded?
  • Is employee-generated content allowed?
  • Step-by-step guide for using the organization's employee advocacy platform

4. Implement an employee advocacy platform

Getting the best out of your employee advocacy programs is impossible without the right employee advocacy technology

Modern advocacy solutions have a set of features and functionalities that make advocacy much easier, fun, rewarding, and more effective

More specifically, such technology enables organizations to:

  • Identify their current advocates
  • Curate engaging content on various internal communication channels
  • Segment internal audiences to deliver content relevant to employees’ roles, locations, and interests
  • Enable employees to share the content with their networks in seconds
  • Create personalized news feeds with the ready-to-share content
  • Drive continuous employee engagement 
  • Better understand their multigenerational workforce
  • Empower internal communicators to easily and timely share the content relevant to different employee personas
  • Tie advocacy initiatives with specific business goals

5. Measure the success 

Innovations in modern employee advocacy solutions also enable organizations to measure the success of their advocacy initiatives and internal communications campaigns. AI-powered solutions have the ability to tie advocacy to specific business goals and outcomes

In other words, employers can measure the impact of employee advocacy activities on the overall business success. 

The Biggest Challenges with Employee Advocacy

It is clear now that employee advocacy has many benefits. However, every new initiative in an organization holds its own challenges and struggles.

employee-advocacy-challenges

Effective change management is, therefore, also important for implementing, launching, and maintaining employee advocacy programs.

Even though various organizations may face different advocacy challenges, according to the previously mentioned research, these are some of the most common challenges:

  • Content challenges (53%)
  • Difficult to keep employees motivated (49%)
  • Low adoption rate of the program by employees (47%)
  • Leadership commitment and engagement (44%)
  • Measuring success, justifying the investment (35%)
  • Budget (29%)
  • Tools/Technology challenges (26%)
  • Regulatory compliance (23%)
  • Employees sharing inappropriate content (8%

Employee Advocacy Podcast

Recently, we held an interesting podcast about employee advocacy. We invited Rani Mani, the Head of Employee Advocacy at software giant Adobe.

Rani works across different teams to drive understanding, excitement, and advocacy among their global workforce. 

We asked her to share with us how Adobe enables and empowers all their employees to be the company’s biggest brand ambassadors. 

Tune in and listen to our podcast titled: Why Employee Advocacy Should Be in Every Job Description. Learn about:

  • How the company structured its employee advocacy program
  • How their content strategy looks like
  • How they identify and develop new brand ambassadors
  • Why Rani believes that employee advocacy should be in every employee’s job description and performance review

Listen below! 🔊

 

Getting Started with Your Advocacy Program

Now that you have learned the benefits of employee advocacy, are you ready to implement an ambassadorship program in your organization?

Even though employee advocacy can be a high-impact channel to create growth, traditional employee advocacy typically isn’t personalized for the employee. This results in lower engagement, poor employee experience, and, in the long run, less growth

Employer-Branding-employee-advocacy

Organizations across the world use Smarp’s technology and expertise to launch and manage successful advocacy initiatives tailored to their employees. It’s mobile-friendliness, advanced personalization and AI-powered features enable employers to drive organization-wide adoption and get the most out of their advocacy programs. 

Moreover, Smarp gives employees the ability to create and consume employee-driven content to help strengthen advocacy programs.

employee-advocacy-technologyUsing robust user permission levels, the technology makes managing an employee advocacy program a piece of cake – even at an enterprise scale. The mobile-first technology makes advocacy activities seamless for every employee no matter their location and job function. 

Schedule a Smarp demo today and find out how and why other organizations use it! 

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Written by

Kristina Martic

Kristina Martic

Digital Marketing and Employer Branding

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