Businesses invest in employee advocacy to expand the reach of their brands on social media, increase employee engagement, and generate new leads.
When employees use their personal social networks to promote and publicize their company on social media they help to drive brand awareness, improve the brand image, build a loyal audience, and drive traffic back to their company’s website.
While these are the primary reasons why a company would put an employee advocacy strategy in place, there are many secondary benefits generated from a successful program, including the significant improvement of communication and collaboration among colleagues.
When it comes to employee advocacy, we tend to start with its benefits in aligning employees to communicate with people outside your company, however, it also strengthens the connections between peers and coworkers inside your company.
Employee advocacy can transform company culture:
Social media advocacy allows employees to play a key role in one of the most important and strategic of business initiatives: building a brand.
In the year 2018 and beyond, employees can and should play an increasing role in this effort to build their company’s brand. The creativity, teamwork, and innovation that stem from what’s involved with building a brand are both transformative for the business and its people and effects the company’s culture in an inexorably positive manner.
Everyone wants to matter and be a part of something bigger than themselves, especially when it comes to work. We invest so much of our lives working (in many cases we’re spending more of our waking hours at work than we do with our families). Involving your people in establishing or expanding your brand is inherently unifying.
For the company, an employee advocacy program created the platform and the framework for getting everyone on the same page and playing by the same rules. At its core, employee advocacy is simple and something that everyone can get behind: stay informed, and share things about your professional life and work with your network.
For the employee, an advocacy program is a huge opportunity for self-improvement and career improvement. It gets everyone thinking about what they need to be aware of, who they need to connect with, the importance of communication and interaction bother in and outside of the company. It’s win-win on all fronts.
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Employee advocacy merges employees’ personal and professional lives:
Many businesses expect employees to keep their personal social networks personal, meaning they shouldn’t or in some cases aren’t allowed to be on social media during work hours. Employee advocacy turns this mentality on its head; just as people started using their own phones for work (BYOD) ten years ago, now they use their own social networks for work.
When employees are able to merge their personal and professional lives, they develop an entirely different attitude and outlook toward their employer, their work, and their colleagues. Vis a vis social, what was once a fun but prohibited personal activity becomes an essential, collaborative part of their daily job responsibilities. And it makes work a lot more fun; everyone wants to leverage the latest technology as a part of their work.
Frankly, the idea that social media is an inherently personal thing, or that it’s mutually exclusive from the rules and practices of an effective professional is totally wrong. The fact is that there are very few (and continuously diminishing) boundaries between our personal and professional lives. Is everyone your friends with on Facebook strictly a personal acquaintance? Probably not. Don’t get caught in the trap of conflating the connection with the content.
By allowing employees to blend their professional and personal interests by using social media for professional purposes at work, their networks feel more connected and view them as trusted sources of information. It also further strengthens the bond between employee and employer as it’s viewed by the employee as a perk, something special that their employer supports that most others don’t.
Don’t forget: your company should also have a social media policy in place, so there are some guidelines for employees.
Employee advocacy enhances customer service skills:
Part of doing employee advocacy well is developing an insightful, positive, and supportive social media voice.
When a business invests in helping its employees to become effective social media advocates, the skills and professionalism they develop end up spilling over into all other customer aspects of their job, in particular, any areas that demand interaction with customers. This is such an important skill, arguably for everyone in a company, any company. Virtually all great companies prioritize customer interactions across the org.
Being an active social brand advocate provides some natural training to employees on how to interact with their audiences and people who might have questions about the product/service their company offers.
When employees are seen as insightful and helpful, that only improves your brand positioning and a potential prospect’s willingness to do business with your company now or in the near future.
Employee advocacy provides a new path to professional success:
Employee advocacy plays a central role in popularizing a brand on social media, and employees who do it well should be recognized for their success. When employees get the recognition they deserve, it inspires them and their peers to strengthen their relationships and improve collaboration.
One tool that’s often deployed in efforts related to employee engagement is gamification. It applies to employee advocacy as well; friendly internal competition encourages engagement and retention, which leads to overall program performance.
We always say gamification is like medicine: just because one dose is good doesn’t mean that two doses will be better. However and when administered properly, gamification and simple, non-monetary incentives can really drive participation.
Employee advocacy engenders mutual respect among peers:
Employees who choose to be social media advocates become respected authorities and experts inside and outside of their company.
When these thought leaders develop a following on social media and inevitably have a hand in transforming and guiding the employee advocacy program at their company, it engenders mutual respect from peers, which in turn creates new opportunities for mentorship and collaboration.
As employees build their credibility amongst their networks they become the go-to source for information and guidance.
Of course, for the employee, one of the biggest benefits of participating in an employee advocacy program is the effect it has on their career opportunities. The more they participate, the more they’ll grow their network, and the bigger their networks the more likely they will be to advance in their career. Every company should be helping their employees achieve their professional goals and employee advocacy is a great way to do that.
Establishing an employee advocacy strategy and a program is a win-win for both employers and employees. When a business invests in training its employees in the art of social media advocacy, those employees benefit from a transformed company culture, integration of their personal social media use into their professional lives and a better understanding of how to effectively interact with customers.