Employee Advocacy has been a buzz word for quite some time now. Despite its popularity most organizations are yet to start using their employees as recruiting assets.
Employee Advocacy essentially means the promotion of an organization through its employees. An Employee advocate is someone who works as a spokesperson for the organization and generates positive exposure by spreading awareness about the brand, either by word of mouth or by the virtual word of mouth –social media.
If you come to think of it, almost everyone has a social media account –Facebook, Instagram or linked in these days. Let’s say an organization has around 1000 employees, each employee has at least 500 connections on their social media account. Do the math. Imagine the reach an organization can have if it decides to use its employees to spread good word about itself through these accounts.
How can one leverage Employee advocacy?
Employees can be encouraged to become a part of videos, shot professionally describing what they like about the organization or showing their day at the office. Zomato does something very similar to this wherein Zomans (that’s what Zomato employees are called) are part of videos describing what they have learnt at Zomato and why they love the culture at Zomato.
Employees can be encouraged to write blogs describing what they love about their organization or teams or post pictures of themselves and their teams on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Starbucks deploys a program called Starbuck Partners wherein it has a social media profile showcasing pictures and videos of its employees. It also encourages its employees to post pictures on their Instagram profiles using #tobeapartner. The effect that this has on potential hires is that Starbucks comes across as a cool and friendly workplace attracting fresh talent.
Alternatively, employees can be provided with professionally created promotional content in the form of flyers or articles which they can post on their social media platform. However, this may not be the best approach since research shows that people are 16 times more likely to read a post written personally by a friend about a brand as opposed to professionally created promotional content. Another research showed that 84% consumers believe in endorsements from people they know personally (Source- Neilson Global Survey)
Some organizations also try their hand at employee advocacy by giving out company merchandise to employees like cups, sippers, T shirts, car and laptop stickers etc. This is a cost effective method of starting a conversation about the organization. Some organizations even try incentivizing employees who help them in spreading the good word.
What not to do? The worst mistake an organization can do is to make it a mandate for its employees to post positive things about itself on social media platforms. This will not only defeat the purpose, it may lead to the opposite of attracting talent, in worst case scenario employees may start bad mouthing the organization.
Organizations can easily use Employee Advocacy to leverage employees as digital influencers. However, one must remember that no social media strategy will work if the organization’s culture and environment are not worth talking about. So, as a first step concentrate on creating an inclusive and positive culture that people take pride in and then utilize your people to spread the word about it.