The concept of 360-degree employee advocacy has been coming up in several of my conversations with social media strategists these days. For those of you who may not have heard of the concept, 360-degree employee advocacy occurs when employees post content related to their company, and the company shares it through their official brand channels. Employee advocacy has proven to be immensely powerful for organizations, but I think companies should take this one step further and capitalize on the social voice of their teams on their brand channels.
Businesses spend a lot of time developing a “voice” for their brand channels, and some brands have done this exceptionally well. I met a social media editor for BuzzFeed Canada back in April, and he told me he owed his Twitter success to adopting the tone of a “smart 16-year-old girl.” This has clearly worked for Buzzfeed Canada and other brands like Taco Bell (I’d recommend checking out their Twitter, if you haven’t already.)
But what if we invite employees to contribute to our brand channels? Then, rather than having Twitter feeds filled with tweets from a brand trying to sound like a human, we would have Twitter feeds filled with retweets from the humans who work for the brand.
When I worked for the largest cancer charity in Canada, this approach to social media might have saved me a lot of grief.
We frequently had to respond to comments suggesting that donor dollars were being inappropriately allocated. More specifically, that donor money was being given too generously to employees. This accusation was infuriating for many reasons – mainly because it wasn’t true, but also because most of the people who worked there had a personal connection to the cause. It made me think to myself “Would people actually say that to the faces of the employees who are working here?”
Featuring the voices of our staff and volunteers more effectively would have been an excellent way to showcase the amount of heart behind our work and humanize our online presence.
Brands Involving Employees on Social Media
So, what if rather than making our brands sound like people, we reflected the voices of the people who work for our brand? More than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. People connect with people, and the people who make up businesses are quite frankly more relatable than brands.
There are quite a few brands who love to showcase their employees on social channels. You’ve probably encountered a hashtag that employees use to share real-time updates of their workplace culture.
American department store Kohl’s has a similar method with their #LifeAtKohls hashtag and dedicated Twitter Kohl’s Careers account. It’s an awesome blend of job seeking tips from their talent team and content from employees across the country who are excited to work with the company.
— Life at Kohl's (@KohlsCareers) June 28, 2016
The value of this is the phenomenal culture of recognition that this type of 360-degree employee advocacy fosters. Employees need to feel united around their company’s objectives and are essential advocates for their brand. Encouraging social sharing fosters a culture of connectedness and creates a feeling of belonging.
And this culture is great for talent acquisition, too. Job candidates will see that your brand cares about employees and wants to share their success publicly. What job-seeker wouldn’t find that appealing?
Getting employees involved in social media is an easy way to create an amazing employer brand and humanizing your online presence. It will set you apart!
What are your thoughts? Can you humanize your brand by speaking through the voices of your employees? Does 360-degree employee advocacy suit all organizations, big and small?
Let me know what you think in the comments, or give me a tweet @meaganamy.