Everything you need to know about employee advocacy.
According to Entrepreneur, “word-of-mouth is so impactful that half of Americans would prefer it over any type of marketing. Eighty-three percent of Americans said they’ve made a purchase because of a word-of-mouth recommendation.” So what does word-of-mouth have to do with employee advocacy?
While word-of-mouth is effective it’s also limited and not reliable. Employee advocacy programs, on the other hand, harness the power of employee word-of-mouth to create an effective and scalable marketing strategy.
Definition of Employee Advocacy
To define it simply, employee advocacy is a marketing strategy an organization uses to promote its brand through its employees. Within an organization, on average of 21% of employees are estimated to already be advocates with another 33% having high potential to be an advocate. Leveraging the voices and networks of these enthusiastic employees helps to set a brand apart from its competitors.
Employee advocacy can be everything from encouraging employees to speak about your organization to sending internal company e-newsletters with social share links, all the way to a fully formalized program with goals, metrics, and specified software.
Employee advocacy is done most frequently through social media. Why? Because in today’s digital world social media is now the main way we connect. Creating a social media employee advocacy program is a way to create effective advocacy that is both measurable and scalable.
So what are the main benefits of employee advocacy programs?
Customers are often overwhelmed by choice and will easily tune out a lot of traditional marketing and advertising. Employee advocacy allows brands to cut through the noise and connect with customers through the voices of their employees. Company branded messages reach 561% further when shared by employees versus branded channels. These messages are so effective because employees add credibility and trust.
A study from HubSpot shows 75% of people don’t trust ads, but 90% do trust suggestions from friends and family or consumer reviews (70%). Employee advocacy programs allow executives and enthusiastic employees to act as social media advocates and trusted advisors for the company brand. They do this through sharing related branded and industry thought leadership content with their networks.
People trust the recommendations from their family and friends long before they’ll trust what a brand has to say for itself because there is a level of implicit trust few organizations can replicate. This is especially important for B2B organizations who have to work harder to capture market share and audience attention.
Just think, when was the last time someone you know asked: “how’s work?” This is an ideal chance for brand advocacy, but if your employees aren’t informed about company news (or about anything besides what is directly happening in their role) this is a missed opportunity. Employee advocacy programs not only allow for additional reach, but they also allow your employees to be more engaged.
Employees using employee advocacy platforms will have company information, employer branding content and industry news all at the tip of their fingers in one central location. Why is this important for engagement? According to a recent Gallup report, engaged employees are much less likely to leave their organization and much more likely to promote their employer brand among their peers and potential customers (aka advocacy is more effective when employee are engaged and it’s easier to engage employees with strong employee advocacy programs.)
Employee advocacy is simply the act of having an employee advocate on behalf of their organization. When this is done strategically the benefits can be tremendous and multi-departmental. From increasing brand awareness and reach to social selling to improving employee engagement, employee advocacy programs allow organizations to promote their brand in an authentic way customers positively relate to.