Raise your hand if you have logged in to your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts during work hours, no one?
These voluntary and spontaneous manifestations of the workers to empathize, share and spread the culture of their organizations in their social networks is known as Employee Advocacy.
The use of social networks during the work hours is more common than first believed. Many companies have stopped fighting this trend and allow the use of social networking during work. It is already more than 3 billion users globally, and the number increases day by day. In these social networking platforms we share anecdotes, everyday stories, pictures, of our friends, family, and pets, good times in the office, you name it – we share it.
Every day is more common to see in Facebook or Instagram posts of happy friends in their jobs that share the culture of their companies, feel part of it and tell the world how they enjoy their work day. Tags like #GreatPlaceToWork or #LoveJob are trending in the digital world.
What is Employee Advocacy?
Employee Advocacy is a trend in the institutional communications departments to transform employees into ambassadors of the brand’s reputation in social networks. Who better than the workers themselves to communicate to the world the benefits of the corporate culture to which they belong? Or the advantages offered by the new products or services offered by the company?
When employees have free access to social networks and from the organization are motivated to share company information in their profiles – in a context of positive work environment – these become an effective source of identity and reputation building of the brand. This also generates more committed and productive employees who help to obtain successful results for the different departments of the organization.
Most companies do not pay attention to this communication strategy and focus the digital communication on its senior executives or on the intervention of influential third parties in the sector. However, according to EDELMAN’s 2016 confidence barometer, employees generate twice as much confidence as a CEO or senior executive.
Another advantage offered by an employee advocacy program is that, proportionally, it is as effective for small businesses as it is for large corporations. According to a study conducted in the US by the Pew Research Center, the average internet user has 200 friends on Facebook and 61 followers on Twitter, this means that if an organization has 20 employees and uses a strategy of online brand ambassadors, Institutional communication could reach five thousand people, only through the employees.
6 Best Practices to Create an Employee Advocacy Strategy
1. Sharing the culture of the organization is a priority
To transform an employee into an ambassador for the company, he needs some incentives that inspire him to share the organization’s corporate values spontaneously and disinterestedly, for the mere fact of how he/she feels. There are several methods to involve workers in their jobs and business culture. To promote extra-occupational activities to encourage participation among colleagues and thus improve the organization’s job satisfaction, create internal social networks that foster interaction between employees of different hierarchies and departments to horizontally transmit a common and sustainable culture, as well as communicate the promotion initiatives in a clear and effective way so that they themselves can replicate this information in their own social networks and become spokesmen of their own company.
2. Create clear rules for social media interaction and communicate the policies across the company.
Before promoting an Employee Advocacy program within the organization, make sure that the message employees will replicate online is aligned with the message the organization intends to communicate. Without restricting the freedom of expression of employees, it is important that all workers are aware of the responsibility of being a social ambassador of the organization. Therefore, the company must establish clear guidelines on the social behavior of its employees, determine the tone of communication, avoid abusive and intolerant language. It is also essential to provide workers with the necessary resources and channels to respond effectively to any concerns that arise about the organization.
3. Train employees on best practices in digital media
In addition to having a clear guide to what and how to communicate the information of the organization, it is key for the promotion of employees as spokespersons of the company that workers are formally trained in the latest trends in social media, in all hierarchies and departments of the company. The level of experience required by each employee will be determined by the objectives set out in each Employee Advocacy program.
4. Create an Employee Advocacy Strategy
The communication of products or activities of the organization by employees in social networks can be generated without incentives or reminders from the internal communication department. This is a good symptom. Employees in one way or another feel identified with the company culture and voluntarily share their content. However, since there is no communication strategy behind, the results of these spontaneous efforts of the employees are difficult to measure or analyze.
It is necessary to establish clear and specific parameters so that the interactions generated by the employees are directly linked to the strategy created by the organization. For example, if the company’s goal is to communicate an event on Twitter, you must create a #hashtag to identify it and then organize a draw among team members who have most shared related content. This will help motivate them to disseminate communication and generate the broadest possible reach. Whatever the digital communication strategy that is chosen, it should always be adapted to the format of the social channel in which it will be realized.
5. Preaching by example
To motivate employees to be brand ambassadors in social networks, the executives of the organization must be the first to participate and set an example for the rest of the company. Managers set the pace of the communication and help by validating and giving authority to messages. For this it is necessary the participation of a person responsible for the communication strategy and the planning of incentives for employees who stand out most by sharing the content, especially in large companies where it is difficult to ensure the participation of all departments. In addition, employee advocacy leaders can be named in each area or team of the organization, who will be responsible for sharing the contents of the company in social media and thus motivate their colleagues to spread the institutional communication.
6. Determine KPIs to measure campaign results
To create a successful campaign, it is essential to measure and analyze the tangible results that are obtained. It is vital to align the objectives of the campaign with the business objectives of the company; brand awareness, direct traffic to the website, leads generation, etc. At the end of the campaign, a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the results should be carried out, emphasizing the participation of the employees to measure the percentage of participation by department, to find out who are the employees with the best performance, who did not participate, and so on.
This data will be relevant when planning new communication strategies and encouraging employees to be brand ambassadors in social networks.