With the increasing demand for authenticity, relatable influencers with a small number of followers are expected to take the spotlight from celebrities and macro-influencers this year. Aside from micro- and nano-influencers, brands can empower employee advocates and influencers to promote products and services on their social media accounts and generate engagement. This post will discuss why employee advocacy will help your brand generate engagement and increase ROI. In addition, the post will provide examples of how companies can empower employees to become brand influencers and ambassadors.
Employee Advocacy: Definition
First, let’s talk about employee advocacy and what it means. Employee advocacy is defined as any casual and strategic promotion created by brand employees about a company, its products & services, ethics, and/or culture. Brands can get the best out of employee endorsements by making them a part of the business’ marketing strategy. Therefore, brands can benefit most from employee advocates by implementing long-term, planned, and voluntary staff advocacy.
Why Employee Advocates Matter
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective strategies in influencing consumers’ buying decisions. In fact, 74 percent of customers agreed that recommendations from friends and family members affect their purchases. Additionally, 92 percent of buyers believe the endorsements of peers and relatives over advertisements produced by brands. The same goes for brand employees. As a matter of fact, messages shared by employees on their personal social media channels gained higher audience reach than content posted on the brand’s main sharing platforms. Here are some ways employee advocates can benefit your brand.
Share Genuine and Authentic Images
Consumers are more likely to trust brands that are easily relatable. Many brands do not have personal interactions with consumers, but they can still build connections with consumers through their people. Employee advocates help brands foster relationships with buyers and create human interactions that are genuine and real.
Furthermore, audiences will obtain true knowledge about the company from a different and unbiased perspective as employees share brand-related content on social media and in their daily interactions.
Attract New Audiences and a Wider Reach
When employee influencers share company content on their social media accounts, brands acquire access to new audiences and potential consumers. In addition, brand personnel may direct followers to the brand’s website or to promos and products which creates higher engagement for the brand.
Create Brand and Product Awareness
Since employees are often part of the brand’s product and program creation, they are among the most reliable sources of information about the products and services offered by the company, the programs and causes it supports, and the brand’s culture and vision. Therefore, employee advocates can help create product and brand awareness which may influence customers’ purchasing decisions.
8 Ways to Utilize Employee Advocates in Influencer Marketing
Simply stated, employee advocacy provides brands an opportunity to equip and activate employees to be brand ambassadors. Below are some ways brands can turn company staff into effective employee advocates and digital influencers.
1. Build an Employee Advocacy Program
One way to produce a successful and profitable employee advocacy campaign is through a strategic advocacy program. Though casual brand-related content shared by employees in social media can build engagement, a well-planned advocacy program can bring more success to your brand.
For example, through a formal employee advocacy initiative, brands can empower and provide proper training for employees on how to represent the brand through social media and other platforms. As a result, employee advocates can produce personal yet well-curated and highly engaging posts.
An example of a company with a well-built employee advocacy program is Adobe. In 2014, the company selected employees to be a part of the brand’s Adobe’s ambassador program. The chosen individuals were provided with training and sessions to help them fulfill their roles in sharing about their Adobe stories. Some of the benefits the company received from the program included higher social media engagement, the ability to share the company’s story from a different perspective, and a genuine brand image.
2. Host a Social Media Account Takeover
Another way to benefit from employee advocates is through a social media takeover. For example, brands may give employees access to the company’s Instagram or Facebook accounts and share Instagram and Facebook Stories about daily work activities or ongoing brand events. With this initiative, companies seek higher engagement on the brand’s official social media accounts and new audiences from employee posts.
Dell is one of the well-known companies to invest in employee advocacy programs. Employee advocates create content and post them on their social media accounts to tell their stories with a #lifeatdell hashtag.
3. Motivate Employee Advocates to Share Work Experiences
A positive working experience shared by employees on social media and other platforms helps brands create an outstanding company image. As a result, consumers and job seekers will more likely be drawn to purchase from and work for your company. Therefore, businesses should encourage employee advocates to convey a great experience working with the company.
For example, FabFitFun provides employee advocates opportunities to openly share their experiences at work on their personal social media accounts. In fact, the brand created a separate Instagram account for FabFitFun employees to show employees’ daily activities, working experiences, and company culture. There’s no doubt this initiative helps employees feel empowered while creating a positive image for the brand.
4. Feature Employees as Brand and Product Experts
One of the reasons why employees can be great brand ambassadors is because of their expertise and knowledge of brand products, services, and programs. Brands can make use of employee skills and mastery to promote the company’s offerings and influence consumers to make a purchase.
Another company that harnesses the power of its employees is Shopify. The brand has a number of employees known as Shopify Gurus who provide customer support through phone calls and chat. In an effort to increase engagement on the brand’s social media accounts, Shopify created an Instagram series where Shopify Gurus turned into employee advocates and provided sales and marketing tips for the brand’s customers.
With the employees’ knowledge about the brand’s offerings, they were able to successfully help Shopify merchants while boosting engagement on the brand’s social media account.
5. Promote Product and Services Through Employee Advocates
Brands can drive awareness for products and services through employee advocates. For example, companies may invite employees to share posts on their personal social media accounts featuring the products and services the business offers. In addition, companies can motivate employee advocates to promote brand deals, new product launches, and store visits.
Starbucks is known for its exceptional employee advocacy program. The brand treats employees as brand associates by referring to them as partners instead of employees. Furthermore, the company supports its employees and recognizes partners who excel in their jobs.
As a result, employees actively share positive feedback about the brand and willingly endorse brand products and promotions on their personal social media accounts. Starbucks then enjoys the benefits from their employee’s posts including higher engagement, a new and wider audience reach, increased awareness, and more authentic content.
6. Showcase Company Behind-the-Scenes
To comply with consumers’ demands on authenticity, businesses can show transparency by presenting everyday work situations and other behind-the-scenes campaigns. For instance, brands may feature employees doing everyday tasks, showing a sneak peek of new products and services, or simply explaining brand offerings. Especially during times of uncertainty, consumers love a behind-the-scenes look to learn how companies are changing based on current events.
With this type of approach, companies can utilize employee advocates while successfully showing the brand culture and image. Moreover, consumers can feel personally connected with the company by building relationships with and getting to know its employees.
Delta utilizes brand staff to create content for the company’s Instagram account. Employees are featured in Delta’sInstagram Stories while explaining and showing their daily tasks. The brand encourages engagement by asking questions regarding the employees’ tasks and other brand-related queries. The employee advocates then answer the questions and show behind-the-scenes of the company offices and their day-to-day activities.
7. Show Company Pride with Profile Frames
The call for diversity in influencer marketing is loud and clear and brands shA fun way for employees to show company pride is by creating a Facebook frame that employees can upload to their Facebook profile or story. Frames are an easy way for employees to show support and to create a community of brand ambassadors. Businesses can motivate employee advocates to raise awareness for their brand, a new product, or a specific message by uploading a frame to their personal page.
Southwest employees uploaded a Facebook frame to their profile pictures to show their devotion and love for their job even during a time of uncertainty. Though 2020 is turning out to be a tough year on many businesses including the travel industry, Southwest Airlines employees were able to show brand strength to their friends, raise awareness, and send a powerful message.
8. Embrace Diversity Through Employee Advocates
The call for diversity in influencer marketing is loud and clear. Brands can show an inclusive image as a company through its diverse group of employee advocates. In addition, brands—with the help of their employees—can support causes and programs that encourage diversity in the workplace.
Microsoft presents themself as a diverse company by participating in and organizing events that promote diversity. For instance, the company joined and created programs to encourage women coders and engineers to be a part of the workplace. The brand also actively supports LGBTQ events and communities. Through social media posts created by employee advocates about the diversity campaign of the business, Microsoft created an inclusive and positive image for the brand.
Wrap It All Up
Influencer marketing constantly evolves. Therefore, companies should explore modern and different strategies that will yield profitable results. If your brand seeks to build a genuine company image, reach out to new audiences, and create brand and product awareness, you can invest in and encourage the idea of employee advocates and influencers. The examples and suggestions provided above can help your brand create employee advocacy campaigns that wow.