Employee advocacy is the holy grail of HR. Not only is it a free, virtually limitless source of excellent PR, but it can also help foster a sense of shared vision and camaraderie among your workforce, creating a sort of feedback loop of good vibes that will benefit you, your employees and your customers – and that’s something money can’t buy.
It’s really just common sense: after all, who better to tell the world about your company, its values and products than the people who work there?
The truth is, social media advocacy from your employees is like gold dust – so how exactly do you go about getting it? Well, there are paid-for services which you can use, but if you play your cards right, your employees will want to do it anyway.
First of all, let’s consider what actually constitutes employee advocacy. Employee advocacy is normally defined as the publicity generated for brands by employees using their own online assets.
In practice, this usually means social media, although it can really encompass any online activity, from emails, to blogs, to posts in forums. It could even include word-of-mouth recommendations and other offline activity.
As for the content itself, it could be anything from blog posts, to job ads (perfect for LinkedIn), or photos from your latest company event.
That’s all well and good… but does it actually work?
Well, despite the fact that it won’t cost you a penny, employee advocacy is almost scarily effective. According to global PR firm MSLGROUP, a brand message shared by an employee will reach 561% further than the same message shared via official brand channels.
Yes, you read that right: 561%. That’s an awful lot more reach. Now that we’ve got your attention, let’s see what it takes for your employees to start spreading the word.
Sharing is caring
The thing to remember first and foremost is that employee advocacy is a two-way street. After all, how can you expect your staff to share the love if they’re overworked, undervalued, or even downright disgruntled?
A strong company culture should be the solid foundation on which you build your shiny, golden castle of employee advocacy. Fun activities and away days, as well as freebies like decent coffee, pastries and fresh fruit, can all go a long way.
You could even consider incentivising social sharing by offering, say, a donut to every employee who shares your latest blog post. Now there’s an offer they won’t be able to refuse.
The bottom line is, if your employees love where they work, then they’ll want to shout it from the rooftops – so make it easy for them.
Rules of engagement
Another great strategy is to build social media guidelines that encourage sharing. This way, your employees will know that they’re expected to spread the word, and you won’t have to waste time reminding everyone to take to Facebook every time you generate an interesting piece of content.
A social media policy can also help ensure that your employees don’t share restricted information, badmouth the competition, or otherwise portray your business in a bad light.
By having robust social media guidelines in place, you can make sure that your employees play nicely and present the company in the best possible way. If you’re not sure where to start, then check out Intel’s social media policy for inspiration.
They are the champions
There’s always one person in any office who can’t go five minutes without checking their Instagram account. So why not make the most of them?
Appoint your resident Facebook fiend or Twitter addict as a social champion and encourage them to lead the way with sharing campaigns. That way, your social junkie will get to feed his or her habit, and you’ll get bucketloads of free publicity: it’s a win-win situation.
Do your bit
If you want your employees to carry on singing your praises for the long run, then it’s a good idea to practise what you preach by getting involved too. Leading by example isn’t just good management practice – it can even help you win business. According to MSLGROUP, 82% of customers place more trust in a company when the senior leadership are active on social media.
Finally, remember what your mother taught you: always say thanks. A thank-you costs nothing, but it can mean the world to an employee who has gone out of their way to spread the word about your product or service.