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What is Employee Advocacy & How to Create an Employee Advocacy Program

Kate William

9 min read

An employee advocacy program helps with the promotion of a service, product or brand with the help of the organization’s workforce.

To put it in simple words, employee advocacy is the promotion of a company and its brand on social media by the organization’s employees.

Despite its many benefits, brands have failed to invest in this. Your active employees will act as your marketing, sales and hiring assets with the help of your employee engagement strategies.

One of the best employee advocacy examples is Starbucks’ promotion strategy, where it calls its employees ‘partners’ instead of employees. It makes them feel as if they are a big part of the brand.

While the concept of employee advocacy has been there for quite some time now, it picked up steam only after social media and the internet added wings to it. With so many changes happening of late in all spheres of business, brands have to look at new and innovative methods of reaching out to customers. Having an employee advocacy program is one major change that they could make.

Benefits of employee advocacy:

While your employees might not have a huge sphere of influence, they would still command a lot of respect from their immediate friends and family. So if you use employee advocacy in the right manner, you will be able to reap its benefits. Let’s look at some of the benefits of employee advocacy.

#1 It improves communication with customers:

When your employees are your advocates, you will find that they will be able to communicate with your customers in a way that none of your other programs could have. People usually trust others, and your employees are also like the people who buy from you. They are more likely to believe something that your employees assure them about. Messages from the brand are believed more when the employees themselves share them.

#2 Gives you more leads:

A lead that comes from your employee is much more valuable than something that comes from a different source. Why? Because the lead is trusting of the employee and they are more likely to have lesser sales objections than usual. Having an employee advocacy program helps your business prospects multi-fold because the employees form a relationship with the customer.

#3 Helps attract the best talent:

Talented people are always in demand, and they are always looking to work with the best employer who takes care of them. Your employees are in a position to create the right perception of your brand. If your employees strongly believe that you are a great place to work, then you do not have to worry about roles that are not being filled. Why? Because your employees will go out of their way to make things happen for you.

#4 Helps the bottom line:

Believe it or not, your employee advocacy program will show direct effects on your bottom line. No matter the size of your company, having an employee advocacy program has multi-pronged benefits that will end up with only good things for your brand.

#5 Humanizes your brand:

Your employees have great marketing potential to speak for your cause, and it is highly effective. When employees talk about your brand, it ends up humanizing it. Your prospective customers will stop starting to look at you as an ice-cold entity, but as an organization that has a lot of hardworking people in it. They will be able to better relate with you.

How to create an employee advocacy program:

Here are the steps that you need to take to create an effective employee advocacy program. Do not start one without the right arsenal and technical know-how.

#1 Have clear objectives:

When you work on a problem that pertains to your business, the first thing that you need to keep in mind is the kind of objectives that you have. Having clear goals and KPIs for the employee advocacy program will ensure that you stick to the plan even if there are issues along the way.

Here are a few goals for which most employers indulge in employee advocacy programs:

  1. Humanizing your brand
  2. Averting a PR crisis
  3. Reducing your marketing spend
  4. Increasing your reach
  5. Getting more engagement from your target market

While some of the above goals we have listed might be mutually exclusive, you do not have to keep all of these goals. You can even concentrate on only one objective that is an immediate requirement for you.

#2 Include your employees:

The second thing that you need to do as soon as you are clear on the objectives is to ensure that you include your employees in the program. Your employees shouldn’t think of it as some program that will suck out their time with zero rewards for their effort. Just saying that they need to share the company’s posts will only irk them. You need to show how the company will benefit when they become advocates and how it will help the organization as well.

Let them know that by being employee advocates for the organization, they can reap a lot of benefits. It could be looking like industry thought leader when they share industry-related content or the top advocates of the program getting incentives. You can even make the entire employee advocacy program a fun activity by gamifying it.

The employees who are a part of your employee advocacy program should be happy to be a part of it and not consider it a chore. By making them feel as if their contributions help immensely, you will also get to improve the eNPS score.

#3 Provide training:

Expecting your employees to move your advocacy program will only result in chaos. You need to give them adequate training so that they can participate in the right spirit and method. There are a lot of employee advocacy tools that you can use to ensure that you get the most out of the program. Make sure that you choose a tool that is easy to follow for everyone.

#4 Get your leaders on board:

If you want your employee advocacy program to be a runaway success, then it is imperative that you include your top-level executives and leaders to give credence to it. Use statements from them to insist on the importance of the program. If some of the leaders are already a part of the employee advocacy programs, then you can use their experience to explain how it works.

#5 Be transparent:

When you expect your employees to be a part of the program, make sure that you have communicated your intentions clearly with them. If you cannot be transparent about it, your employees might not be comfortable being a part of it. Your employees also need to know what exactly they would be doing in this program.

You need to tell them how being a part of the employee advocacy program will affect their day-to-day workings, what are the new things that they would be doing, and so on. Make sure that there are regular updates via emails or meetings so that everyone is in the know.

#6 Choose an advocacy leader:

Your employee advocacy program needs a face so that every participant can be directed to that one person. It is not only to have a face for the program, but it will also show the importance of the program to the employees. If yours is a vast organization, then you can have more than one person. Otherwise, it is best to make do with having just one leader.

Here are some of the responsibilities that the advocacy leader can shoulder:

  1. Be responsible for ensuring that content is being created on a regular basis
  2. Drive engagement around the employee advocacy program
  3. Responding to questions from the employees
  4. Being a mediator between the employees and the leadership in case of any disputes
  5. Finding more ways to improve advocacy amongst customers

#7 Start the program:

In the initial few days, most of the employees will share statuses and post comments on a regular basis. There will come a time when this interest will die down or might even stop doing so altogether. During such a time, it is the advocacy leaders who are responsible to make sure that the interest in the program is kept alive.

With the help of your internal communications channel, you should communicate to the employee advocacy program participants regularly. Give them updates on the content that needs to be shared. If not, the interest will slowly die down and it will be difficult to get it back to normal.

It is best advised to start the employee advocacy program during a major event in the industry or inside the company so that it can feed off the momentum of the latter.

How to improve employee advocacy:

When you are doing an employee advocacy program for the first time, it is not always possible to get it right. Here are some employee advocacy strategies that will increase their participation.

Should be easy:

We cannot insist enough on the importance of keeping your employee advocacy program as easy as possible. Every step or phase of the program should be easy to do. You can use employee advocacy tools to make it possible.

Provide incentives:

Those who are indulging in sharing your posts and doing other aspects of employee advocacy programs without even much prodding from your side need to be applauded. Appreciate their actions by making them feel valued and appreciated.

Personalized programs:

Your employee advocacy program cannot be a one-for-all program. Each of your employees is different and care about a variety of things. You need to create your program around what your employees care about. They cannot be expected to share everything that the company does.

Timely reminders:

Your employees are busy people, and they also have a personal life. There is no way you should expect them to immediately take action when you want to. Be respectful of their time. Instead of sending just one message, you can send a bunch of reminders over a period of time without making them feel annoyed with the entire exercise.

Behind the scenes:

Share videos of your employees at work or having fun. It could be a picture of a fun Saturday night party at the office or an outing that includes employees’ families. Employees who are in the content will surely share them with their peers and on social media. It is also a moment of pride for them that they are being showcased in their company’s content.

Top employee advocacy tools:

There are a lot of tools for brand advocacy that will make your program a smooth one. Here are a few recommendations from the SurveySparrow team:

Buyapowa:

Using its employee advocacy referral toolkit, you will be able to find your most passionate brand advocates. Buyapowa is a digital-first employee advocacy program that gives employees rewards for referring their friends and colleagues. It also offers advanced analytics, dynamic reward support, fraud prevention mechanisms, white-labeled front-end interface, and more. Not only is it a low-cost option, it also has plug-and-play options, which makes it extremely simple to use for the technically challenged.

Sprout Social:

Sprout Social allows your employees to amplify your brand on social media. One of its platforms called Bambu, helps create extremely good content on social networks. It even has extra features like trade show event marketing and virtual event marketing. You can measure B2C metrics like clicks, shares, and impressions.

Oktopost:

This tool allows you to streamline all your social media and advocacy activities. The advocacy tool has options like pulling content from social media, sharing them with your employees and tracking the metrics. For brands that are looking to generate business results, Oktopost does a great job.

Sociable:

It not only offers employee advocacy, but it goes a step ahead and includes influencer marketing, internal communications, and employer branding. This employee advocacy social media tool aggregates content from social media, RSS feeds, and direct URL links. Users will be able to create their own content on the platform and share it with relevant groups.

Social Chorus:

It is a workforce communications platform that allows companies to plan, create and measure employee communications in a single platform. It can personalize the employee experience while helping marketers simplify internal communications planning. For businesses that are looking for an employee communications platform that also offers an employee advocacy program, this one’s your best bet.

How to measure the success of your employee advocacy program:

You need to measure the results of your employee advocacy program. Otherwise it will remain an exercise in futility. Also, you will not have a benchmark to improve it. Here are some metrics that you need to track:

Top contributors:

Who are the employee advocates who are most active? Which teams or individuals are sharing the most? A leaderboard in a gamified employee advocacy program will show you the numbers. Note down your best advocates and make sure you reward them amply. If they realize that their efforts are not going to help them personally in any way, they will stop trying to do as much as they can and only contribute what is necessary.

Engagement:

While you might want to reach more people, the reward lies in engagement. Your employees should be liking, commenting and sharing your posts. Measure the engagement that you get from each channel where your employees share content regularly.

Traffic:

You will want to check the traffic that is generated based on your advocates’ constant sharing of content. If you can get an increase in website traffic through employee advocacy programs, that is all the more reason for you to work on it.

Wrapping it up..

Having dedicated employee advocates who are happy to be a part of your organization can contribute to employee NPS, high satisfaction, feeling as if their contributions matter, and so on. Your program cannot be an overnight success, it will take time and effort for it to improve your bottom line significantly.

If you use your employee advocacy program in the right manner, you can easily increase your employee net promoter score. It will certainly improve your employee satisfaction as they are being rewarded and incentivized in the way they like.

When trying to get your employees involved as a part of the employee advocacy program, you can use employee feedback surveys or employee engagement surveys with the help of an online survey tool like SurveySparrow. Get in touch with the SurveySparrow team, and we will be more than happy to let you know how we can be of help to your brand.

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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