Gaining consumer trust should be the priority of every brand. A way of increasing consumer trust is putting together a well thought out and strategic employee advocacy programme.
The power of an employee advocacy programme
The Edelman Trust Barometer has revealed that people are three times more likely to trust company information shared by an employee of that company over the CEO. LinkedIn network activity can back this up even further as the click-through rate (CTR) on a piece of content is twice as high when shared by an employee vs. a generic company account.
Tapping into the power of your employees to share company content should be next on your to-do list! But first you need to empower them, you need to cultivate the right climate for them to feel confident enough to share quality content with their own social networks. Because on average, employee networks have ten times more connections than a company has followers. Now that’s going to expand your reach if you encouraged every employee to share content.
Your employee advocacy programme strategy
Bear in mind that when you first start employee advocacy, your people will be reluctant to dive in. It’s not because they don’t want to be a part of it. It’s more likely that they feel their contribution will be insignificant. Therefore, training is important. People can’t appreciate how a tiny ‘like’ or ‘share’ can really impact the grand scheme of marketing your brand. Also, people are worried about what they can and can’t share about work. Educate, train, give them confidence and before you know it you’ll have an army of brand ambassadors!
So, assuming you’ve got your army out on the front line – here’s what you need to do to build a great employee advocacy programme.
Step 1: Create a solid content strategy
Before you ask your people to advocate for your brand, you should do so with a stash of content behind you – ready to go. This is an obvious one, but we’ve included some tweaks.
Two things really matter here – subject and format:
Try to create exciting or thought-provoking content that employees will want to share. You could aim for a mix of company related, industry related and general content. It’s a little bit salesy if all people ever share is company specific articles, not to mention drab. Sure, you might get lots of likes and shares this way, but once their peers start noticing a robotic pattern your engagement numbers could drop. Your goal here is to drive engagement with employees and their networks, so match the content with their interests for better results.
Your employees will need a variety of content to post to keep things fun and easy and different formats serve different audiences. Videos are best shared on Instagram, blog posts on LinkedIn and news on Twitter. Social media is for quick snackable content on the go, so try not to flood feeds with 1000-word blogs, instead use social media to hook new audiences, and reel them back to your blog or website for further info.
Step 2: Identify your digital avatar
To get true engagement from your employees you must understand them as social media users. That way you can target them with certain pieces of content for massive impact. We’ve deciphered six types of users that are worth knowing about.
The Ghost: Randomly appears to scatter a few likes here and there, is an avid social media user but keeps a low profile. Target this user with photos and quick links. Or encourage them to simply ‘like’ content.
The Activist: Understands the power of social media and uses it as a weapon to change the world. Target them with newsworthy topics from your company.
The Bleeding Heart: Writes long poetic captions beneath their posts, using their profile as an emotional outlet. This user loves sharing an emotional connection with their followers. Flush them with inspirational content to start the conversation.
The Social Butterfly: Has 3000 friends on Facebook and a dazzling Instagram account. Loves social media and knows just about everyone. (This person is probably already sharing your content.)
The Early Adopter: They did everything before it was ‘cool’. Their pure iciness however is contagious. People look to them for all that is shiny, new and worth talking about. New launch? This person has an army of fans waiting for the down-low.
The Family Man: Bound to have a loyal band of devoted family and friends, this person uses social media to keep in touch with close ones around the world. Their peers are interested in what they have to say so bear this in mind when you want instant engagement with your content.
Step 3: Educate and train
Hold 101 trainings, such as lunch-and-learns and webinars to train employees on how to use social media for work. That way you let them know what’s in it for them:
Being an employee advocate can boost their professional reputations as well as impact the business. In fact, people who share consistently always end up being positioned as thought leaders in the industry, gaining a significant following. The business will also gain traction and start to gain more awareness, boosting sales and attracting top quality hires.
Step 4: Launch your programme
You’ve set your goals, you’ve prepared enough content and you’re ready to launch! Remember the following when your mid-air:
Exploit the channels you already have available, that way you can guarantee a captive audience. And always get leadership involved whenever you can. Arm senior executives, CEOs and MDs with material to share – so they can set a solid example.
Employee advocacy is another way of engaging with your customers, but remember, like any other content strategy, it requires consistency. It’s paramount to return every so often to your advocates with new insights into how well they’re doing.
Mobilising your workforce to become brand advocates takes a lot of dedication and a positive mindset to get going. But with careful planning you can place your content strategically in the right hands, to be deployed at the right time. This will give you maximum impact, and you’ll boost employee engagement while you’re at it. Not too shabby.