How to Maximise Impact through Employee Advocacy

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When it comes to building out an authentic employer brand, trust is everything. But if you try to hoodwink your audience in building that trust, you can break your brand in an instant. 

This is where employee advocacy is so important. 

Between social proof (Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc.), anecdotal evidence and value affiliation, you need your people to tell their version of your story and organically build trust in your employer brand.

Employee advocacy can improve marketing efficiencies right across both talent and consumer lifecycles.

Think of it in terms of the saying 'a smile is contagious'. If you have hundreds or even thousands of people saying how good your product or organisation is, the ripple effect is going to be powerful.  

And it's not just about talent acquisition. Yes, advocacy can impact how many people apply to roles, build desire to work at your organisation and accept job offers, but it can also be a powerful retention tool. Hearing colleagues across the organisation talk about their experiences – internal career moves, community engagement and cool things they're working on – can build awareness of potential internal opportunities and increase engagement.

Addressing the elephant(s) in the room

Of course, building out an employee advocacy program isn’t without its challenges. The elephants in the room – time, resources, collaboration roadblocks and apathy – tend to be the biggest obstacles organisations face when trying to implement an employee advocacy program.  If you don't have both the 'why' and the tools in place, you face the risk of being stuck in the mud.

Your employees might not be natural writers or comfortable putting themselves out there. 

They might not have time during the work day to contribute or know what they are (and aren’t) allowed to talk about.

Then there's the issue of stakeholder buy-in. Your leaders might be concerned that your top talent could be poached if they build their public profile, or they might not really understand how advocacy can help drive their talent strategies. Even if they do understand, they may not have the time to help you drive the initiative. 

Altogether this can make it seem like employee advocacy is just too hard – but it doesn’t have to be.

There are a few key actions that can help you build and drive a successful advocacy program:

1. Communicate the 'what’s in it for me'

From a stakeholder perspective, if you don't hire more people, you'll still be under-resourced. From an employee perspective, advocates have the opportunity to help hire people they know and like, as well as build up their own profile. The list of benefits is virtually endless depending on your objectives.

2.  Help them understand what they should be talking about

Build an easily understandable framework around your culture, proposition, tone of voice etc. so that they feel confident and enabled. This framework allows your people freedom to express themselves, while giving the business confidence that the brand is being well-represented.

3. Build stories that create a connection and drive engagement

Make sure they are relatable and easy to remember! Whether it’s about why someone should join your organisation, engage with your services, buy a product or make an internal career move, use your people's real stories and include a clear call to action. 

4. Be clear on processes

Find a clear path to collaboration and creation that works in your organisation and stick to it. Make sure people know where and how to find the information they need, and that you can easily find the people you want as advocates.

5. Stay on top of metrics

Metrics are essential to understanding what resonates, what drives impact, what is and isn't working. Some key metrics you might track include:

  • Number of social followers
  • Number of job applications
  • Internal move conversations
  • Retention rates
  • Employee engagement scores
  • Employee referrals
  • Number of employee advocates

Utilise the right technology

Technology underpins the success of any program. Consider your objectives, both company-wide and at the program level, and have a clear picture of a solution that can solve for both. Things to think about include: 

  • Do you need help creating videos or written content, or both?
  • Will your advocates need help knowing what to talk about?
  • Are you going to need a platform that can help you amplify your advocate stories internally and/or externally?
  • Do you need to tie in outcome objectives?
  • Is collaboration key to bringing in stakeholders in different functions/regions/sub-brands?  

Empowerment is key to success, so try and find a solution that can make your life and your people's life easy. Ultimately, your people are talking about you already – an advocacy program backed by the right technology simply helps you tap into and influence that narrative to drive business outcomes at scale.

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