In the whirlwind of today’s bustling market, businesses are constantly evolving their strategies to stand out from the crowd. With almost every industry being saturated with digital content and B2C marketing material, the need to be creative in reaching out and connecting with consumers has never been more critical.
Amidst all the strategies in the marketer’s playbook, one is surprisingly overlooked—channeling the power of your very own employees. If you aren’t already taking advantage of this untapped marketing resource, just know that it is nothing short of a game-changer when used effectively. Intrigued? Read on to find out why.
What is Employee Brand Advocacy?
In the simplest terms, employee brand advocacy happens when your employees become your brand’s biggest cheerleaders. They are proud to work for your company and take ownership of the work that they contribute. As such, they can’t help but shout it out from their virtual rooftops (i.e., social media).
But here’s where it gets interesting: Statistics show that content shared by workers creates eight times more engagement than content shared by direct brand channels. Furthermore, leads generated through employee social marketing convert seven times more often than other leads. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense, as people tend to trust the word of another human far more than that of a corporate brand.
Some of the benefits of this subtle yet effective marketing approach include:
- Increase brand awareness: The ripple effect of employees sharing your brand’s content can extend your reach to audiences that might have been inaccessible before.
- Increase the number of qualified job applicants: When employees share their positive work experiences, it resonates with potential job applicants who are likely already aligned with your brand’s ethos.
- Control over brand messaging: Employees who share their perspectives can provide an authentic and diverse representation of your brand’s story.
- Establish thought leadership: By showcasing the expertise of your employees, you reinforce your brand’s position as a thought leader in the industry.
- Networking opportunities: Sharing content within the employee network can foster connections with other industry professionals, creating potential partnerships or business opportunities.
- More qualified leads: The leads generated through employee advocacy are often higher in quality due to the trust and personal connection that come with such referrals.
Cultivating a Company Culture that Encourages Advocacy
Promoting brand advocacy starts from within. It’s about nurturing a company culture that inspires employees to become brand ambassadors. Encouraging open communication, promoting a sense of belonging, celebrating wins, and recognizing individual contributions are all crucial. The goal is to foster an environment where employees are not just motivated by a paycheck, but by a genuine connection and commitment to the brand and its mission.
Training and Equipping Your Employees
Transforming your employees into brand advocates isn’t an overnight task. It’s a process that involves training and equipping them with the necessary skills and resources. Empower them with knowledge about the brand, its values, and its mission. Provide guidelines on what to share, how to share it, and the do’s and don’ts of brand advocacy. Encourage them to express their unique voices and perspectives, while aligning with the overall brand messaging.
Creating Highly Shareable Resources/Content
When it comes to encouraging employees to become brand advocates, content is king. The type of content that gets shared is the one that resonates with the employee and their network. Whether it’s insightful blog posts, behind-the-scenes peeks, customer success stories, or exciting company news, creating content that employees are proud to share is half the battle won. It’s about crafting stories that evoke emotions, spark conversations, and reinforce your brand’s identity.
Incentivizing Employee Advocacy
Just as your employees have been giving kudos to the company by advocating for your brand, it’s time to reciprocate and give some ‘kudos to the team.’ Kudos to the team meaning recognizing their efforts and commitment through incentives that show your gratitude. This could be as simple as a shout-out in a company meeting, a small token of appreciation, or even a dedicated spot in the company newsletter. The key here is to show employees that their efforts are noticed and valued.
Common Challenges (And How to Overcome Them)
The road to a successful employee advocacy program isn’t always smooth. You may encounter bumps along the way, and you will need to have strategies in place to overcome them once they arise.
Addressing Employee Resistance
Employee resistance is a common challenge in building brand advocacy. The first step to overcoming it is understanding the root of the resistance. Is it a lack of time? Fear of saying the wrong thing? Or, is it simply outside of their comfort zone? Offering support, training, and addressing their concerns can go a long way in alleviating such resistance.
Overcoming the Digital Divide
In every organization, there’s a mix of digital natives and digital immigrants. It’s crucial to acknowledge this digital divide and work towards bridging it. Provide training sessions, how-to guides, and continuous support to those less comfortable with social media platforms.
Mitigating Privacy Concerns
In this era of data breaches and privacy concerns, some employees might be hesitant about mixing their professional and personal lives. In this case, it’s important to assure them that their privacy is respected. Advocacy should never be forced. It’s about volunteering and having control over what they share and when they share it.
Emphasizing Flexibility and Understanding
The essence of brand advocacy lies in its authenticity. And authenticity comes from giving employees the flexibility to share and engage in a manner that resonates with them. While guidelines can provide a general direction, employees should never feel pressured to meet a certain ‘quota’ of posts. It’s always quality over quantity.
Each of your employees has a unique voice and a unique network. When those voices collectively echo your brand’s message, it amplifies your reach and helps you connect with your target audience in a more subtle yet engaging way. It’s not just about leveraging your employees as a marketing tool, but more about empowering them to become an integral part of your brand’s narrative.
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