There is power in your employees. It’s palpable, and you’ve started looking for ways to unlock it. On your journey, you’ve noticed some employees are much more socially active than others. They see the value in socially sharing brand messaging and interesting bits about their professional lives (but may not be able to articulate why). As a result, they are viewed as thought leaders and industry experts. Not to mention, they are a wildly positive influence on your brand.
How can you help these early employee advocates and, at the same time, replicate the model for other employees who want to do the same thing? There are three employee advocacy angles you want to focus on when starting to build a formal program. These angles will help you communicate the benefit of an employee advocacy program up to the executive team and more broadly across the organization. They are focused on the employee, culture and brand.
The Employee Angle
Employees are the single greatest asset you have. Full stop. But how exactly do they benefit your organization in terms of an employee advocacy program?
With so much research being done up front by prospective customers before engaging with the sales team, your employees can help influence purchasing decisions both at the very beginning of a sales cycle and further down the funnel. In fact, Forrester Research notes that prospects are anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before contacting a sales rep. When you set your employees up to be brand advocates, they are seen as thought leaders and experts.
People trust experts, and trust drives influence. This influence plays an important role in purchasing decisions.
The Culture Angle
One of the largest untapped opportunities among your employees is their raw potential. There has been much written on high-performing cultures and the massive positive impact such a culture can have on topline revenue. By setting employees up in an advocacy program and giving them the tools they need to be successful, you will help create an environment in which employees are genuinely connected to your brand. They will feel closer to the market, closer to their customer’s daily challenges and more motivated to perform.
“Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.”
—Dale Carnegie Training
Engaged employees create a high-performing culture. They also bring in high-quality referrals. An employee advocacy program is good for HR and good for business.
The Brand Angle
Brand building is part art, part science. But there is one aspect that is required regardless of how you view the process of building a brand: your employees. Without a supportive culture, it would be extremely difficult to build a brand. This is why so many brand-building activities have both an external and an internal communications component. Your employees need to believe in the brand as much as you want your customers to believe. Through an employee advocacy program, employees will be exposed to more brand-based content both through sharing and through consuming. As your employees share more content, brand impressions rise.
An employee advocacy program directly drives increased brand awareness (and referral traffic to your website).
Find the Right Partner
An employee advocacy program is not difficult to implement. However, it requires proper planning and support from an employee advocacy vendor that is also seen as a business partner.
Your employee advocacy efforts can drive a higher level of employee engagement, which leads to a high-performing culture. Your efforts can increase brand awareness, leading to more traffic to your website, more qualified leads and a direct impact on topline revenue. What’s not to like about an employee advocacy program?
Greg Tirico: Greg Tirico is Senior Manager of Advocacy Solutions and Services at Sprout Social. He has spent the majority of his career leading digital marketing initiatives in Fortune 500 organizations. When not espousing the benefits of employee advocacy, he can be found searching for the perfect Pinot Noir. Hit up Greg on Twitter @GregTirico.