Your company is sitting on a valuable but untapped marketing tool if it hasn’t yet launched an Employee Advocacy Program. Nothing adds credibility to your brand quicker than content provided by an employee advocate via social media. In these days of diminishing business trust (see graphic below from the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer), employee advocates are able to deliver company messaging outside of formal marketing initiatives, creating what is perceived to be more authentic – and more believable – information on a business.
The first thing to do when creating an Employee Advocacy Program is to establish a platform for engagement. It is critical to establish writing guidelines, social media education and an editorial calendar as the foundation for your program. It must be convenient and accessible to all participating employees so ongoing updates via corporate communications are critical. You’ll also want to make sure that employees are trained on social media so an ongoing education initiative is important as well. A published editorial calendar may also provide content guidelines for employees who want to publish in conjunction with more formal PR and marketing initiatives.
Employees are the voice of a brand so it is vital to not only ensure that the designated employees are sharing via social but also that the messaging is consistent with corporate messaging. The idea is to supplement and reinforce your business story, not detract from it. So, who should participate in an Employee Advocacy Program for your business?
Some businesses utilize a no-restrictions policy and make social branding available to anyone in the organization. Other businesses select employees as advocates, typically from Marketing, Corporate Communications and Human Resources departments. This decision reinforces the idea that employee advocacy should supplement more formal communications efforts in place. The decision also depends on the size of the business too. Larger companies have a greater pool of trained communicators to engage while smaller companies will need employees from more areas of the business to participate.
Properly aligning the key departments and individuals within the organization from the beginning will ensure that your advocacy program will get off the ground easily and scale along side your corporate marketing programs.