You probably already knew that your employees are your biggest business asset. But did you know they’re also your biggest marketing asset? In wave of new research conducted on the power of employee advocacy, no other group has been shown to be more influential when it comes to positive PR, brand awareness, and customer loyalty. Instead of CEOs, publicists, and other influencers, it’s employees who have the biggest impact on how customers perceive your company.
But employee advocacy isn’t just about getting employees to share your marketing content with potential customers. Instead, it’s about leveraging existing social influence, engaging employees in and out of the workplace, and creating a company culture that inspires authentic commitment to your brand and mission.
It’s all about engagement
Just as engagement is key to turning one-time customers into life-long fans, engagement holds the key to transforming employees into brand advocates. Before an employee can become an advocate for your company, they have to be fully engaged – both in their individual positions, and in the overall success of the brand.
- A recent Gallup poll estimates that a whopping 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged in the company they represent. So if you can create engaged employees, you’ll be way ahead of the competition.
- Engaged employees are 5x more likely to stay at a company and 1.3x more likely to put extra effort into job performance.
- Engaged employees generate 3.9x more revenue for their company than disengaged employees.
It’s important to have a strong foundation of engagement before beginning to recruit, create and develop employee advocates.
What is employee advocacy?
Employee advocacy goes beyond engagement. It involves the promotion and marketing of a company or organization by its employees, who serve as the most important ambassadors of the brand.
That’s right – instead of the marketing and sales departments working in silos, employee advocacy involves everyone in the company making an organic, personal investment in the company’s success.
An employee advocate:
- Increases brand awareness through word of mouth, traditional media, and digital media
- Feels comfortable and confident communicating brand benefits to family and friends
- Is invested in the company’s success while in and out of the office
- Promotes a sense of ownership at every level of the company – from entry level to C-suite
- Is passionate about your business’s products, services and mission
As you can see, an employee advocate is deeply invested in the welfare of the entire organization – not just their place within it. They see the big picture, encourage colleagues and co-workers to engage with the brand, and genuinely believe in the work they do on a macro level.
Perhaps even more importantly, employee advocates don’t just feel good about your brand – they feel compelled to share those feelings with prospects and customers.
Benefits of employee advocacy
When you place your business and marketing strategy in the hands of dedicated employees, you can take advantage of some incredible benefits that will have an exponential impact on the success of your business.
Employee advocates can…
Employee advocacy is the easiest way to build trust with customers and prospects. Research shows that customers are far more likely to trust an employee of a company than the company’s CEO. Employee advocates are able to foster genuine, trusting relationships with customers by communicating honestly with them. And if the employee honesty believes in the products and services being sold, a trusting relationship forms naturally – and those products and services seem to sell themselves.
Cut marketing costs
When you entrust the success of your business to all of your employees, your marketing and sales departments don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. You no longer have to rely on ad buys or massive marketing campaigns to get the return on investment you’re looking for.
Instead, you can slash your marketing spend and invest in the engagement and authentic advocacy of each employee. The time they spend building customer relationships, answering questions, and connecting online is both cost-effective – and priceless.
Enhance company culture
Imagine a company culture that’s the opposite of most businesses around the world. A culture where, instead of 87% of employees feeling disengaged, 87% of employees feel beyond engaged as true employee advocates.
Just think of what it’d be like to work at a company like that – where everyone truly believed in the company’s mission, worked for the success of all involved, and strove to give their best each and every day.
Now that’s the kind of company that attracts top talent, has very little turnover, and is able to further slash expenditures by investing in the right people long-term.
Secure partnerships and joint ventures
Creating a culture of employee advocacy frees up your marketing budget, reduces employee turnover, boosts profits, and builds customer loyalty.
But it also opens the door to joint ventures with other like-minded, forward-thinking organizations. When you create a place people love to work, you create an environment where others want to work with you.
3 examples of employee advocacy
Employee advocacy may be a trendy HR buzzword, but for these companies it’s become a way of making business more profitable:
Dun & Bradstreet –
D&B recently launched a company-wide app to engage employees in an advocacy initiative via their smartphones. The app gives employees the digital assets they need to get involved with marketing campaigns on a grassroots level, stay excited about the D&B brand, and easily share the company’s message with their social networks.
Dynamic Signal –
This software company helps brands like Capital One and Deloitte turns employees into brand advocates. With a few simple clicks, employees can share branded content with their social circles based on their personal interests. They can also create and upload their own content, further solidifying them as industry experts and earning the trust of their followers. This direct sharing method between employees and their social networks has been shown to increase content engagement up to 700x!
Small business tech company Sage was so passionate about employee advocacy, they launched a 23-country social media integration program in less than 24 hours. Using Sociabble, a leading employee advocacy platform, Sage was able to transform 13,000 employees into employee advocates on social media – literally overnight.
Employee advocacy in action
So what does employee advocacy look like in action, and how can you implement it into your business?
- Employees must have a personal stake in the company’s success beyond compensation. If people have no vested interest in the company beyond earning a paycheck, it will be impossible to create true employee advocates. If engagement or loyalty are lacking, find out why. A strong company culture, inspiring products and services, and an exciting mission must all be in place before employees can become advocates.
- Empower employees to maintain and nurture relationships with customers over time. Even the playing field between employees, managers, directors and leadership by giving employees the tools they need to foster customer relationships at every level of the organization.
- Leverage your employees’ digital footprint and social influence to promote company initiatives and campaigns. Nearly every one of your employees has a social network with hundreds, sometimes thousands of connections. Instead of spending precious marketing dollars trying to find new customers, let the customers come to you – through trusted personal connections who happen to work at your company.
Employee advocacy is not just a trend – it’s a business and marketing movement. By empowering your employees to become brand ambassadors, you can attract new customers, build trust quickly, and foster long-term loyalty. You’ll also be able to reduce your marketing spend, prevent employee turnover, and build a company culture that supports brand recognition and reputation. Begin by creating products, services, and a mission employees want to engage with. When engagement is high and employees are empowered to share your message, you’ll have a strong foundation to begin your own employee advocacy movement.
Originally published at Hoovers.com