More and more, employee advocacy is becoming a niche marketing tool that businesses are utilizing to extend the reach of their content. But firstly, what is employee advocacy and is there a right and wrong way to go about it?
The world has moved away from employee “advocacy 1.0”, explains Bradley Keenan, Founder and CEO of DSMN8. This is where the company just use the employee to get their content out there. There is now a focus on social enablement – empowering individuals who have an interest in being active on social, to be good at it.
Bradley joins host Amy Woods on this episode of The Content 10x Podcast to chat about the rise of employee advocacy, mistakes that business owners often make when trying to get employees to share their content, how to go about it the right way and why it works so well when you do.
Click below to listen to the full episode or keep reading for the main takeaways.
Watch the highlights video below or head over to our YouTube channel for the full episode in video format.
What is employee advocacy?
Firstly, what is employee advocacy and why is it important?
Put simply, it’s the promotion of a business by the people that work in it. It’s important because if done well, it empowers employees to amplify company content and increases reach, putting your content in front of a trusting audience.
When employees provide a positive ‘insiders look’ at the business they are reaching a network of followers who may already be interested in your product or service.
Bradley places employee advocacy in two camps. There’s employee advocacy 1.0 which is where the company is just using employees in order to get more reach on their content. Then there’s employee advocacy 2.0 which is more about the social enablement of employees who have a vested interest in being active on social and providing them with the tools to be good at it.
No guessing which approach performs better!
Our employees are our most trusted influencers
Do you consider your employees to be your influencers? According to Bradley, this philosophy works because there’s already a level of trust between your employee and their audience. So, when they post, in their own voice, something that’s been customized and made their own, they have given it their stamp of approval and their audience views it as trusted content.
This is very different from a company sharing the content. A savvy audience understands that there is an inherent bias that comes with that, explains Bradley.
Employee advocacy content that works
When providing employees with free license to share your company content, what kind of content do you want them to be putting out there?
According to Bradley, authentic company culture content works well – with emphasis on the ‘authentic’. For example, an employee runs a marathon for charity and you share that information, congratulating them and staff share it on. This gets a lot of engagement because people love to support their co workers. Does this help the company’s bottom line? Not necessarily, but it promotes you as a good employer that is seen to champion employees.
If you pull back from that slightly, explains Bradley, and you celebrate people’s projects, you are able to talk about the success of staff and the company in a more subtle way. Posting, “This is our X1289 Processor released last week and here’s it’s spec sheet”, might contain the same information, but it won’t perform.
It’s all about how you frame it.
Personal brands – good or bad for business?
There’s a thought among some management that employees building personal brands is a negative thing. It makes them more visible, more influential and therefore more hirable – increasing the chance of them being lured away.
However, Bradley disagrees, saying that if you had that approach in all areas of your business, you’d never send a salesperson out to go and see a client or send someone to an industry event to network. If you allow employees to represent themselves in a positive way on social media, it reflects positively on the company.
Employee advocacy for recruitment
Again, there is a 1.0 and a 2.0 approach to using employee advocacy for recruitment. You can ask people to share a job spec (1.0) or you can provide employees with the opportunity to share a behind-the-scenes look at a typical working day, or pictures from your charity event or a quick Q&A with your CEO.
You want to make your organization look like an amazing place to work so that when you do put a job spec out on social, people are aware of the type of company you are and what they can expect, and they are eager to join you!
Sharing a bit about the culture of your organization, how transparent you are, and what your CEO is like are all more important to people than the difference of $500 in their annual salary, says Bradley. These elements all work together to ensure that you get the best candidates coming through.
For more from the conversation, listen to the podcast episode!