In my last blog, I talked about how your customers can be some of your best marketing advocates. But you don’t have to look very far to find your next group of marketing champions: your employees. If you want your customers to live and love your brand, your employees have to do it first—and an employee advocacy program is a great way to start

Employee advocacy

While word of mouth is still a common way to spread awareness about your business, in today’s digital age social media is the obvious channel to pursue. An employee advocacy program functions in the same way as an “always-on” awareness ad campaign, except it’s free. The program encourages trained employees to cascade content about your brand to their social channels, expanding the reach of your audience.

According to a study by Weber Shandwick, it’s already second nature for employees to speak positively about their employer. Their research showed 33% of employees post messages, pictures or videos on social media, often or from time to time, without being encouraged to do so. Imagine what could happen with a little encouragement?

When your employees are happy with their workplace they will want to share their positive views, and their voice can have a great impact. Here’s how this can:

Provide online relationship management

When you get your employees engaging online, they can communicate with customers and help steer the conversation. And since your employees know your company’s content best, they can provide customers with links to relevant content to answer their questions.

Generate content creation

Having an employee advocacy program in place will also encourage employees to create their own content. They can create and build a brand for themselves and share it with their networks, which will significantly amplify the reach. For example, according to Pew Research, the average number of friends someone has on Facebook is 200. So, if you have 100 employees each having 200 friends, your content could be seen by as many as 20,000 new people.

Make your brand authentic

When a message is coming from a person that a customer can relate to, it makes much more of an impact than when it’s just coming from a brand. It also comes across as more than messages from a corporate account. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer identified that 63% of people agree they will try a product based on a company’s reputation, but they will only continue to buy the product if they trust the brand. It also cited that, in today’s political climate, 42%of people don’t know which brands to trust. Having your employees sharing your brand in an authentic voice can go a long way.

Attract talent

Not only will sharing your content across a wider net potentially generate more awareness, it will also create an online brand for you that will garner attention from talent. You don’t have to show just marketing content—your employees can also share content about what it’s like to work for you. At EDC, we like to share the workplace culture @EDCMoments.

How to get started

Establish guidelines

When rolling out an employee advocacy plan, one of the first steps should be to establish some guidelines. What should your employees post about? Are there brand guidelines to follow? If everyone is on the same page, your online presence and message will be consistent and positive, and you will spend less time policing your brand.

Appoint a designated leader

Employees might be hesitant to post about their employer at first, but if a leader takes charge they’ll be more likely to follow suit. 

Appoint a leader who really understands the goal of employee advocacy and have them do a training session on how to participate.

Start a fun challenge

Once you have more employees on board, you can start a fun challenge to entice more participation and solid results. Determine what KPIs you’d like to measure—engagements, comments, traffic, top posts—and come up with a prize for the winner.