Last year I predicted that employee advocacy programs (programs that enable employees to be brand advocates) would become more prominent, and according to the latest data it looks like that prediction was on the money. This doesn’t surprise me at all because it makes a lot of sense.
Companies are finding that organic traction on social media is virtually impossible to come by, and paying influencers for one-off campaigns isn’t reaping the benefits that we all thought it would. My further prediction is that influencer marketing tech will start to incorporate more internal comms functions and that’s already evident with a number of platforms that previously touted external influencers.
Also, as job security becomes more tenuous with rising automation and offshoring of admin tasks, the motivation to make yourself an indispensable asset within an organisation is naturally higher. If you are known as a thought-leader or spokesperson with relevant subject-matter expertise and your personal brand adds value to your company’s brand, you are much harder to fire.
On the flip side, according to a Gallup study, employees are also more likely to stay in a company for longer, be more productive, more punctual and more effective if they are actively engaged in employee advocacy.
Employee advocacy is definitely on the rise. An Altimeter study in 2016 revealed that 90% of brands in their survey were already looking into how to incorporate Employee Advocacy. I share a few examples of companies doing employee advocacy well in my white paper here.
Another study found that employees engaged with employee advocacy programs spent 5+ hours a week on social media for their business as opposed to 1 to 5 hours for employees not in employee advocacy programs.
Why does Employee Advocacy Work?
#1 The bottom line is, people trust real people.
Think about it. Fake news is absolutely rampant, celebrities’ lives don’t really seem a lot to aspire to these days, people are sick of being “marketed” to and they value real stories and experiences.
This is reflected in Edelmann’s Trust Barometer 2018 which gives credence to the idea that consumers trust employees that share authentic stories about their company and the work they do. It’s also evident in the fact that social media algorithms give preference to personal updates over company updates. Behind the scenes posts not only give insight into a company’s inner workings, and the real people behind the business, but they also showcase the company’s values and mission.
#2 Employees can reach a broader audience.
Employees have diverse interests and are linked in to a multitude of communities from sporting groups to community garden groups, from professional organisations to meet up groups. They are therefore able to influence a wider audience than a single brand. Oktopost shares a few great examples of how this works on their blog.
#3 Employees look for meaningful opportunities.
They want to create a sense of purpose around their work and aim for better quality of life both in and outside of their jobs. This is no surprise given mental health is a huge factor in absenteeism and presenteeism, which costs businesses $44 B a year in Australia alone.
#4 Employees want to build their personal brands.
Research by Hinge University shows that “85.6% of employees in firms with a formal Employee Advocacy program say that their involvement on social media for professional purposes has helped their career.” From the HR perspective, employees tend to source better candidates for roles as well, making recruitment easier and less expensive.
As the creator of a content creation tool that enables employees to write blog posts, white papers and social media posts in their own style and voice, I am keenly following the data and conversation on employee advocacy.
I spoke about this topic at the Lexi Communications Business Communications Conference in Brisbane. This is a great conference for communication and marketing professionals from government and the corporate sector and it was an absolute honour to be invited to speak.