When making a purchase decision, an increasing number of people today rely on the opinion of their peers over most modes of advertising. In fact, studies show that the ‘social media generation’ is less trusting of the traditional marketing methods. In times like this, advocacy marketing – especially, employee advocacy – stands out as one of the best ways to promote and market your business.
So let’s get down to it. What is brand advocacy, and more importantly, what is employee advocacy?
To understand the unique concept of employee advocacy, we’ll first have to delve into a few basics. Let’s start with –
Brand Loyalty vs Brand Advocacy
Every marketer worth their salt knows that even though a consumer may love their product, the struggle, to get them to talk positively about it, is real on a whole new level.
That’s the difference between loyalty and advocacy in a nutshell.
When someone chooses your brand over others, every single time, they show brand loyalty. But when the same person goes a step forward and talks positively about your brand to friends and family, they become brand advocates.
It’s important to understand that a brand advocate may not be your best customer and similarly, those who are loyal to your brand may not necessarily be brand advocates. There is tremendous potential in converting this lot though; careful monitoring and direction is all it’ll take.
The Importance of Engaged Employees
Your employees are the cogs and wheels that keep your company running smoothly. The more engaged they are, the higher their job satisfaction and thereby their productivity. In fact, productivity is increased by nearly 38% when employees are engaged. The likelihood of such employees being brand loyalists and brand advocates also increases.
Surveys show that today’s customers are likely to hold a company employee’s opinion in higher esteem than even that of the company’s CEO! So in reality, employees are the company’s most influential brand advocates. Unfortunately, few realize the potential and even fewer use this untapped potential to their advantage.
What is Employee Advocacy?
At its heart, Employee Advocacy is the promotion of a product, service, or brand as a whole, by employees of the said organization, through personal social media channels or word-of-mouth.
The organization could instruct and direct employees to show support by sharing brand content on their personal social networks, but the most compelling kind of employee advocacy is rooted in freely offered communications from the workforce.
A well thought out employee advocacy program is the best way to incorporate the direction and motivation required to begin and sustain employee advocacy within an organization. The aim of such employee advocacy programs is to educate and inform the employees while also keeping them engaged and entertained.
Uses of Employee Advocacy
From Sales, Marketing, Recruitment, and many others, the uses of employee advocacy are immense. Let’s take a closer look below:
1. Improve Brand Image
Leveraging your employees as brand advocates helps increase your social reach tremendously. This, in turn, increases brand visibility and sets you on the path to building, or improving your brand image. Baby steps; you’ll get there.
2. Recruit Amazing Talent
Through employee advocacy, people on your employees’ personal networks are given insights into the company’s culture and work ethics. For example A Facebook post such as – “Had an amazing trek to the national park with the office crowd this weekend – just one of the reasons I love working at SocioAdvocacy!” – will probably be the deciding factor for millennials on a job hunt.
3. Grow Your Network
Surveys reveal that employees have 10X more followers than some brand channels. Can you fathom the number of connections that can be made? This, in turn, can help generate brand awareness, a wider social media reach, more traffic, and increased conversion rates.
4. Generate Leads and Increase Conversions
If an employee of the company uses a product or service and loves it, they’d be might be tempted to share it on social media. Even if they don’t use it, they know the ins and outs of the product or service and any talk of said product or service can influence family and friends to make a purchase decision way more than any other mode of advertising. It’s that simple!
Benefits of Employee Advocacy
It goes without saying that the application of employee advocacy brings about benefits for the entire organization. Although some may be obvious, others may surprise you.
1. Better Employee Engagement
Employee advocacy and employee engagement go hand in hand. By empowering and having faith your employees, you are literally passing them the torch to light up your brand! Engaged employees want the company to grow; they want to see it prosper.
2. Create Thought Leaders
It is important to let your employees know you are interested in their personal and professional development. Employee advocacy can help communicate the ‘WIFME’ (What is in it for me) value proposition to your most trusted brand advocates by providing interesting brand content for them to share on their personal and professional pages, thereby increasing their credibility.
3. Amplify Social Reach
We may have covered this already, but the importance and benefit can’t be stressed enough. Say you post content via your brand’s social pages regularly. You get a few likes, comments, shares, and everything’s great! But imagine what 10X those numbers would look like. It creates a cost-effective channel that’ll reach thousands.
Challenges of Employee Advocacy
We’ve probably converted you to an Employee Advocacy believer by now. But before you dive head first into working out your own employee advocacy program and setting a launch date, you might want to read our take on the 6 mistakes to avoid when launching an employee advocacy program.
So you see, running a brand advocacy program may sound simple, but there’s a lot that could go wrong. Marketers should always keep in mind that each brand advocate is unique.
In an attempt to create a uniform style of communication, marketers may end up creating advocacy puppets that won’t bring anything fresh to the table. Recognize your brand advocates’ likes and strengths; it will only help you run and execute the brand advocacy program more efficiently.
If you need help finding a starting point, SocioAdvocacy is a best-in-class brand advocacy tool that simplifies the process. It makes it easy for your employee advocates to discover and share brand content, and its touch of gamification makes it engaging for those involved.