Employee advocacy – what does it mean and how can brands implement it?

In-house and agency marketers working for and within brands should all know the value of influencer marketing – especially when trying to communicate with millennials. After all, research shows that younger generations are no longer responding in the same way to traditional advertising.

The ‘digital natives’, as they’re now called, have grown up being glued to smartphones, tablets and laptops, and now spend up to 27 hours per week, on average, consuming media.

While the majority of us social media users are happy to get a couple of retweets on Twitter and double figure likes on Facebook or Instagram, there’s a new breed of publishers becoming famous in their own right. Think Zoella, The Londoner and Kayla Itsines. These ‘celebs’ can earn millions of pounds each year, by creating organic content that engages an audience and, ultimately, sells a brand.

So, for marketers who are tasked with hitting sales objectives, influencer campaigns are a great opportunity. In fact, SocialPRChat claims that they can earn an average of $6.85 in media value for every $1 spent – that’s huge ROI.

But what about the marketers who are being asked to attract fresh talent to the business or think of new, exciting ways to engage their target audience?

This is where employee advocacy comes in.

Workers are widely known as a company’s greatest asset, and if a business has a vibrant culture where staff feel looked after and are loyal, they can also be the best brand ambassadors.

Of course, social media is a great place to start, but there are many circumstances where an employee can represent a company. These include mingling at networking events, hosting seminars and conferences, and even when chatting within their own circles.

The goal of an employee advocacy programme is to therefore inform and engage workers to the point that they share the brand story within these settings. This narrative could include many types of company news – a client win, business growth, charity fundraising, recruitment drives and new products/services on offer, to name just a handful.

The idea is to create an internal buzz around the firm, which will then be projected externally too. After all, a potential employee or client is more likely to want to work with a company where its people are passionate, than one where they seem demotivated or uninterested.

So, here are our four top tips to encouraging employee advocacy:

  • Figure out who is already a brand advocate. Some workers may be very active on Twitter, for example. Use these people as the champions of the programme. You could ask them to ‘mentor’ others and give best practice hints and tips to other team members.

  • Provide employees with a way of keeping up to date with what’s new. This could include internal newsletters, for example.

  • Create employee engagement. Organise weekly catch ups to discuss which members of staff are performing the best, then figure out how others can follow their lead. Start competitions and offer incentives – days away and vouchers usually work a treat!

  • Measure the results. Has employee advocacy increased website traffic, led to recruitment enquiries or hot sales leads? Incentivise and encourage such ongoing behaviour.

Employee advocacy could form a really powerful part of your brand communications. So, get in touch if you’re looking for a PR agency to support you with the rest of your conversations.

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Written by Hayley Paterson