In a number of ways, an organization is focused on creating sustainable growth and goodwill, which are considered to be significant assets for the company. However, in order to build a good reputation, another asset, which signifies the heart and soul of the company, plays a significant role. The asset is none other than the ’employees.’
In the competitive environment that businesses find themselves in, engaging employees apart from the work sphere is swiftly gaining significance. Among the various strategies that the businesses come up with each day, an experiment made to engage the workforce with the use of social media has left the industrialists quite surprised.
One of the major reasons is – the majority of today’s workforce comprises millennials. They are in search of an opportunity on social media that embodies a wide variety of networks of their interest. In fact, Linkedin has even proved that employees collectively have 10x more connections on social networks compared to the company’s brand.
If that is the scenario, why not let your organization benefit on social media from these potential employees? How about transforming your potential employees into your advocates?
Well, many employers wonder if it’s possible and worth it. The answer indeed is yes. But how and why are the questions that may pop up instantly. Read on to discover the unknown aspects of your employees becoming your advocates.
What is employee advocacy?
In simple words, when an organization enables its workforce to promote its product or service on social media to the general public is what is understood as employee advocacy. However, the phenomenon is still a growing concept, and many organizations have understood its impact on society. The reason behind the concept’s familiarization is the fact that the promotion comes directly from the people who work for you. Who wouldn’t believe it then?
As employee advocacy is gaining importance, companies have already begun to implement the program in a more organized form. Some companies even have implemented software for the same, wherein the content approval, sharing of information, credibility, and rewards as well are systematically followed. Thus, this program enables your employees to act as advocates and increase more authentic leads for the mutual benefit of the company.
Thus, the organizations harness the employees’ untapped potential by enabling them to be influential leaders. As a result of this influence on the public, employees are given an opportunity to amplify the company’s brand with the right strategies on various social media platforms with authentic voices. This way, the employees play a significant role in sharing the company’s story with the world.
The benefits of employee advocacy
In the digital era that all of us live in, using social media platforms is kind of inevitable. It is true that almost 98% of employees are using social media every day. And among them, research reveals that 50% of employees are already sharing information about their companies.
What is the outcome of this? Well, among the many advantages, here are a few predominant benefits that businesses can experience through employee advocacy on social media.
Increased Business Leads
According to an IBM study, the leads generated through employee advocacy programs and social selling are 7 times greater in comparison to other strategies implemented.
When any posts are shared on social media platforms, companies check the engagement and click-through rates to see a post’s reach to its targeted audience. However, not all posts of the company reach potential customers, as most of them find the company’s posts too promotional.
When employees share posts, LinkedIn has identified that the click-through rates are 2x greater and have a broader reach. Thus, along with reaching potential customers and brand building, the possibility of increasing leads for companies is also higher.
Eradicates Communication Gap Between Business and Customers
There are a variety of strategies implemented for marketing, but the question is – does it reach your target audience? Most of the time, the answer is no. Because identifying and reaching out to them is difficult without a proper platform. Research undertaken by Facebook reveals that 7/10 businesses communicate effectively using social media platforms, yet only 20% of customers who agree with this.
What about the rest? Where are we missing out? Well, there might be other questions too. But the answer to all these queries is a well-planned employee advocacy program. It plays a major role in reaching your unknown prospective clients. Added to this, the communication gap is eradicated as employees play a significant role in addressing the prospect client’s queries instantly.
Brand-building messages have a 24x greater effect when distributed among the workforce than the company itself, assures MSLGroup. Moreover, in a survey conducted, 76% say they trust content shared by normal people. Thus, the connection between people (person to person) becomes more effective and meaningful than the connection between business and people.
Enhances Employee and Client Engagement
Today, employee engagement has become one of the inevitable aspects of a successful business. Yet, with the increasing millennial workforce and changing expectations, engaging employees is tricky yet possible. And one such strategy to engage them is employee advocacy.
Millennials are not just tech-savvy but also highly influential on social media platforms. This includes even Twitter, which helps in driving brand awareness by about 79.4%, while even an average user has 707 followers. Thus, when we direct this interest of theirs on the right path, it is sure to contribute dual benefits.
Firstly, the very fact that a company is allowing them to use social media and trusts them to share the company’s information will make them feel responsible and engaged with the organization. Secondly, the content shared on social media platforms by employees is proven to have 8 times more engagement. With a strategically implemented employee advocacy program, a business can achieve both employee and prospect customer engagement towards the company.
Ways to encourage employees to be social media advocates
The fact that a company desires to have a well-planned employee advocacy program might motivate employees as the effort shows that you are willing to invest in their personal and professional development. Research shows that companies with a well-organized employee advocacy program have witnessed an increase in brand visibility and employee loyalty.
Let us discuss the strategies that can help you achieve the possibilities of this program. Here are the ways which will contribute to encouraging employees and transform them into advocates for your company.
Set-Up and Convey the Guidelines
Guidelines may differ according to the practices and nature of each business; however, figuring out what suits for your company is the first step. Employee advocacy guidelines should include the do’s and don’ts for the employees in regards to their posts on social media. Apart from this, also specify the kind of vibe and brand morals that you wish to put across.
Once the guidelines are set, make sure they are properly conveyed to the employees before they begin posting and tagging you. Your human resources team could take responsibility for making sure the guidelines are followed.
Provide Necessary Training
It would be better if employees were trained before they begin their work as advocates on social media. This training will help motivate and guide them to use the right strategies. The pre-post training will contribute to enhancing their skills and create a better brand image on social media.
Start at a Slow Pace and Gradually Develop The Plan
It’s understandable that once you know the benefit of something, it’s tempting to do anything to achieve it. But it isn’t always right to start all guns blazing. Similarly, employee advocacy should also be started with a small group of employees. Gradually determine its impact on the company and check if the desired results are achieved, and then accordingly, you can expand the implementation.
Encourage Employees By Making Them Aware Of “What’s In It For Me”
Employees turning out to be your advocates is added work that they contribute to the company. Let them be aware of the benefits they can experience through this program. This can also be included in the guidelines you prepare for them. Some of the benefits that the employee could experience are:
- Personal brand building
- An opportunity to express themselves as a thought leader
- Authentic and helpful connections with people
- Increased network
- Better career offers (reported by 86% of employees in a formal advocacy program)
Set-Up Competitive Targets
While you provide training and means to enhance skills, what motivates the employees is the competitive spirit. Therefore, set targets to achieve, and this will make employees perform better as advocates. It contributes to both self-motivation as well as team motivation. Along with this, arrange proper means to measure targets and the success of employees.
Recognize and Appreciate Good Employee Advocates
Recognition and appreciation go a long way in making your employee feel happy and engaged. Especially when employees have achieved the set targets, they deserve it. By doing so, they feel encouraged to perform even better as well as motivate other employees. On the other hand, if they are happy, they are sure to make posts sound happy too for a more engaged audience. Appreciating employees in front of others, giving them a card, or providing a complimentary lunch or dinner, are a few examples.
In order to connect better with clients, companies are considering social media as one of the most reliable platforms. And for an added advantage of reaching prospective clients, it is wise to tap into the employees of your organization.
The transformation of employees into advocates is indeed a win-win process. So what are your thoughts on it? Would you want to begin the process in your company? Worth a thought, right?
Guest author: Shubham Joshi is an experienced content marketer. Passionate about training and development programs, he is always ready to help colleagues and customers by representing concrete ideas and methodology. Beyond work, he is well-equipped with problem-solving abilities.