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Employee Advocacy: how to communicate the soul of your brand

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Part II of the miniseries on Scaling Intimacy

How to communicate the soul of your brand

Trust is emerging as the newest luxury, something that is much-wanted but in short supply. - Edie Weiner

Since the beginning of advertising, brands have painted a better picture of themselves. “Best coffee in town”. “Best phone in the market”. “Best company to work for’’. People have become immune to such tactics and are simply losing interest and trust. Does that mean marketing has become ineffective? By all means, no, but it’s taking a different shape.

So, how do you gain trust in an overly saturated world? The answer may lie closer than you think. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Report 2019, people trust other people more than brands. And who is closest to your brand? Your employees. 53% of participants named employees “very credible sources” when sharing information about a brand, while 47% said they trusted a company’s CEO.

Your employees are your honor badge, not just the people who happen to work in your company. When an employee is optimistic about your company and talks about it favorably, it can massively benefit your company.

Employees: the heart and soul of a company

More and more companies are realizing this key truth, and empowering their employees to talk about their brands openly online. Take Starbucks. They heavily encourage employees to share content and experiences about the brand. On its Starbucks Partners social media page, the company features employee stories all over the world. This way, Starbucks not only actively engages employees but also positions itself as a human, community-driven brand. With 385k followers on Facebook alone, Starbucks has an enormous platform and opportunity to grow.

Cory Edwards, former Social Media & Content Director at Adobe, stated at a digital marketing conference in 2016 how important it is to get employee buy-in. According to him, it’s simply a huge, missed opportunity to have the most trustworthy people in your organization staying silent. When Edwards looked at the data of employee network size, he found that, combined, employees had 7x more people in their networks than the company page’s followers. What’s more; employee posts had 4x the engagement compared to the brand page.

Source: Starbucks Partners

Surprisingly, even today, when billions of people across the world communicate through social media, some brands prohibit their employees from talking about their brand in any way. What a tremendous missed opportunity!

Those Employees that are out sharing the content are getting four times more engagement. Because they’re people. Others want to have individual relationships, they want to interact with them. - Cory Edwards, 2016

5 Main Considerations for Converting Advocacy to Intimacy

Naturally, engaging your employees and achieving tangible results requires a strategy and an active approach. You cannot simply ask employees to reshare your brand content constantly. It simply won’t last. People have to be intrinsically motivated and feel authentic about what they post online. This isn’t only for the sake of the employee experience - but for the way audiences will react. Discernment is key: people can tell when a message is genuine or completely crafted by the corporate communications department. Here are a few considerations for a successful Employee Advocacy program:

  1. Content segmentation: keeping content relevant to all employees Not all brand content is relevant for everyone. If you share content to your employees internally, make sure to segment your topics. This way, your employees can engage on topics they are genuinely interested in.

  2. Employee engagement: how to keep the program going In an ideal world, everyone in the company should have an opportunity to contribute to content creation and have an option to upload their content for others to share. Co-creation is powerful, as it builds a sense of community, giving people a voice and a platform to interact and share valuable experiences on.

  3. Coaching your employees: facilitating content creation Help employees understand how to talk about the company, and give them tools to write about topics they are passionate about. Have open and respectful discussions on their content and how they can improve. When done well, it can help people understand that their contribution matters, and help them to learn and grow. Growth and learning within your teams is growth and learning as a business.

  4. Getting the right tools To implement your strategy effectively, you will need the right platform. Since the start of this year, Elevate - LinkedIn’s Employe Advocacy platform - has been closed, but many other platforms are available to segment, streamline and distribute your content. You can read more about choosing the right Employee Advocacy tool here.

  5. Measuring ROI of your employee advocacy program One of the biggest challenges for communication professionals is measuring the employee advocacy program’s impact and ROI. You can understand the financial impact of your employee advocacy program by setting clear goals and by looking closely at content performance, click-through rates, earned media or other KPIs.

In essence, your employees are your most straightforward path towards building a more human connection between stakeholders and your brand. After all, your brand is more than just a name and a logo. It is a community of real people who share certain values and work towards a unified goal. Activating your employees to become authentic voices of your company offers enormous opportunities for scaling customer intimacy and increasing brand trust.


Implementing an employee advocacy program? Let's talk

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