What is employee advocacy?
Imagine that IBM says, “We are a great company to work for!” Let’s say you believe them. And you add them to your list of companies you’d like to work for. You might even see IBM as a company you would like to do business with. Now, compare how convinced you would be if IBM’s employees say, “IBM is a great company to work for”. Whether or not this is true, it is more convincing when employees engage online with relevant messages. This is employee advocacy. Employees advocating on behalf of a cause, a brand or an employer.
Research shows employee advocacy is a good idea
Research shows that content shared by employees receive eight times more engagement than content shared by brands. Yet only 17% of organisations have formal employee advocacy programmes. B2B engineering and advanced manufacturing sectors in particular, have significant opportunity to digitally engage and interact with customers. Here is a simple infographic showing top nine stats for making a case for employee advocacy:
Because of the level of participation required, success comes down to having a conducive corporate culture. Leadership support, aligned business goals, and training are some of the key elements that help sustain employee advocacy.
Case studies from engineering companies
The stats show that content provided by technical experts is highly valued, more so than traditional promotional content. Sharing knowledge positively influences employees’ personal brand. It allows them to be credible as thought leaders and experts in their field. Still, it seems challenging to motivate engineers, scientists and researchers to participate online. Professional visibility is one of the most motivating factors for these knowledge workers.
Some engineering/technology companies that have made employee advocacy work for them. Examples include LR Senergy, Landis+Gyr, Amec Foster Wheeler, Rackspace and GE.
See our book on social media advocacy
The benefits of employee advocacy
You are in a room full of people and you are telling them your story. You tell them why you do what you do, your values, what you offer, why they should care and how they can get it. Think about employee advocacy on social media as a way to exponentially increase the number of people in a room. In addition, each of your employee advocates has a room of their own. So think about the number of rooms you could have at any one time and the combined reach of your message…
The shear brand reach, recognition and visibility of employee advocacy leads to faster business growth. It also shortens sales cycles and helps to identify new revenue streams.
Finally, check out this recent report by Hinge Research Institute and have a look at SlideShare for what YO! Marketing can do for your firm.
I’ve recently published a book about social media use in a business setting. It covers challenges and approaches to employee social media advocacy. Employee social media advocacy is the act of employees sharing employer-provided content online on their own social channels. Such initiatives have been known to increase brand reach, thought leadership, shorten sales cycles and improve company culture. Personal branding is an integral part of employee advocacy. It gives the employee credibility such that what they share online is believable and accepted as you would accept information from an expert.
More and more, it’s becoming crucial to have an online presence, to be findable and credible. Even if you are not part of an employee advocacy programme, boosting your personal brand could help you get a new job, change your career, successfully launch a business, find experts in your field or find a business partner. The possibilities are endless!
Many people worry that a strong personal brand means that you have a million followers on Twitter. No. I believe building your personal brand needs to work for you. That’s why I developed the 4Ps of personal branding. I highlight four key elements to getting started. They are Profile, Platform, Participate and Persist. I’ll briefly explain each element:
What do you want to be known for? What do you want to achieve with your online personal brand? This element is a key starting point. There are incredible amounts of distractions online and on social media. Decide early on what your goals are. Having goals makes it easier to focus on what is important.
On which social platforms do your target audience hang out? How do these platforms work? The number of social platforms out there keep growing. There is often pressure to join as many of the platforms as possible. But that’s exhausting, and may not be worth your while. You need to identify the platforms that will bring the most value to you. Are the companies you want to engage with there? If your target audience is the oil and gas industry for instance, there is probably no point being on Snapchat. You might find that you get more engagement from LinkedIn.
It’s not enough to set up a profile on a couple of social platforms. You must participate. Personal branding requires that you engage in conversations through commenting or asking questions. 90% of people on social media just watch. They don’t comment or “like” content, they skim and move on. 9% of people on social media engage with content. And then there’s the 1% of people actually create content. Think about how you are going to engage because this could set you apart. Creating content might be writing articles, producing videos or sharing interesting information you find online. Make sure it’s relevant to your audience.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at a website and finding that it hasn’t been updated in a year. Personal branding requires maintenance and persistence. When you start participating, make a plan for how you are going to keep going. It might be once a month or once a week. Whatever it is, keep at it. Don’t give up. It takes time to build relationships online like it does in real life. Consistency pays off.
Start building your personal brand today.
I originally wrote this post on the LR Senergy blog in February 2016.