With the shifting world of marketing and the ever-increasing use of social media by brands, marketing advocacy strategies are imperative. One of the most important parts of advocacy marketing, besides your loyal customers, is your employees. Let’s explore why they are the key to your success.
First, What is Advocacy Marketing?
Advocacy marketing is a tactic that involves identifying customers and brand advocates who have a strong network within your target audience. These advocates may be influencers who can represent your brand well and that your target audience will trust.
How to Establish Advocacy Marketing
Advocacy marketing strategies can be complicated. Here are a few tips to help you create the right program for your brand.
- Identify loyal customers that can promote your brand in a genuine way based on their own experiences: these advocates will want to tell their story about how your product or service revolutionized their lives, saved their company money, or made them more efficient.
- Understand your company’s unique value proposition and communicate it well to your customer base: you need to create a connection between your brand and those it serves.
- Employ a centralized platform to monitor advocate activities and actions, distribute information to them, and ensure a consistent brand message.
- Utilize your data: with data-driven strategies, you can improve and hone your advocacy marketing program.
- Make it easy for advocates to participate: this is essential for any advocate, whether it’s a customer, influencer, or employee. You have to feed them content conveniently so it’s simple for them to share your story.
The Role of Employees in Advocacy Marketing
Advocacy marketing strategy goes beyond just your happy and engaged customer base. It also includes your employees who represent the brand. So, what exactly is employee advocacy (or as I like to call it, “employee activation“)?
Employee advocacy includes employees in social marketing and empowers them to share your brand’s content on their social networks. Employees often make the most effective brand advocates because they are passionate about what they do. Their social media networks tend to be in the same ecosystem as the company’s as well.
Employees have insider knowledge and can add to the company’s posts with personalized insights. Harnessing employee networks in social marketing is effective and doesn’t incur any new costs.
Small Companies Can Use Employee Advocacy Too
To initiate an employee brand advocacy strategy, you don’t have to have a large pool of staff to draw from in order to make an impact. By adding your employees to your advocacy marketing strategy, you can reach substantially more people.
You can even create an employee advocacy program for a small business. Companies that have less than 100 employees can still find results.
With constant changes in the algorithms of social networks and new social media trends popping up every day, it’s hard to stay in front of your audience. Posts from brands or business pages typically take a back seat. Simply put, all posts do not reach all your social followers. To counter this and reach more relevant audiences, your employees, even small groups, can boost your impressions.
How to Implement an Employee Advocacy Marketing Program
Extending your reach and involving employees in social media efforts can be a huge win for your brand. Here are some tips on how to implement an employee marketing advocacy program:
1. Get buy-in from the management team
Prior to asking your employees to become advocates, it’s essential to share your plan and strategy with leadership. You need their buy-in, so explain to these stakeholders the benefits of advocacy marketing and why employees should be part of marketing efforts.
Take the time to educate this group on how employees spending a few minutes of their workday engaging with the brand on social media could reap real rewards.
2. Educate brand advocates
Identify key employee brand advocates and train them on the importance of social engagement. Advise them of the benefits of becoming thought leaders in the industry and sharing their expertise.
Let them know that they can help spread your brand’s story to the right audiences and attract new people to the brand.
However, this is also a time when you need to set boundaries about how they should represent your brand on social media. You don’t want them to have any negative impact on the company’s reputation or their own.
3. Provide advocates guidelines and a framework
Of course, your advocates probably know how to use social media platforms. But being a brand advocate is a little different than posting what they had for dinner the night before.
You should set up guidelines for how they share the company’s content and how that might be different from the content they post about their personal lives.
They will need to appreciate the importance of observing corporate guidelines, do’s and don’ts, key hashtags, and best practices for engaging online while using company information.
You can educate by hosting informational sessions for employees about how to use their social profiles to benefit the brand. Specific groups, like sales, may need additional training as they are the ones most often engaging with customers and prospects.
4. Encourage advocates to share branded and third-party content
Your employees should not be one-sided in the content they share. Yes, the majority of what you want them to post would be original content from your company or promotions. But it’s also great if they share content on their own, within guidelines, of company events, or their participation in trade shows and other media events.
You should also advise that sharing industry-specific content from third parties is a great idea. This sets them up as being in tune with what’s happening in your market and provides their followers with more education on how to resolve their challenges.
If they add specific commentary to the third-party share related to your company’s offerings, all the better.
5. Let employees know the results of their efforts
To keep employees engaged as brand advocates and instill more loyalty, it is important to show them the results of their efforts. This makes advocacy become a part of your company’s culture may make your company a better place to work in employees’ minds.
You should make sure to measure all the posts your advocates make and how they attract new audiences to the website, which ideally leads to conversions and sales. You can create a monthly report to share with your employees that shows how their posts have transformed into true ROI.
With certain platforms, you can personalize messages, see which influencers have the highest impact, and see how individual posts are doing based on engagement activities, such as shares, clicks, views and impressions. Offering this info will help your team understand your audiences.
By offering feedback, employee advocates will be more engaged and more willing to support your programs.
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