The Demand For Employee Advocacy Grows As Communications Evolves

The Demand For Employee Advocacy Grows As Communications Evolves

Technology is driving change and disruption across many industries and roles, but perhaps none more so than the Chief Communications Officer.

Today, communications leaders are working more closely than ever with the CEO, managing social and digital marketers and even taking on internal communications. To manage this growing list of demands, research shows that communications leaders are investing in new methods of company communications and employee advocacy solutions.

In August, we shared results and insights from Forrester’s recent report, “Unraveling the Social Technology Web”, which provides a playbook for companies getting started with employee advocacy. Their research details which features are crucial for tactics like measuring the impact word-of-mouth marketing, social ads, threaded discussions, reviews and more. According to their report, “Social intelligence tools are the backbone of not just your social marketing practice but marketing in general.” Companies fly blind if they run an employee advocacy program without these tools in place.

This past September, even more research has come to light, showing how employee advocacy is growing as a category. Gartner’s report, “Digital Channel Survey 2016: Social Marketers Expand Tactics for Results,” shares research on how, as social marketing matures, brands are increasingly investing in employee advocacy to drive website traffic and revenue. For example, today, 36 percent of marketers already have an employee advocacy program in place and 27 percent plan to implement a program within the next year.


Gartner Employee Advocacy

Looking at Gartner’s findings in tandem with the Weber Shandwick report that came out this month, The Rising CCO VI: Roles & Perspectives of Chief Communications Officers, it’s clear how employee advocacy will play a key role in the evolution of communications within the enterprise.

While the CCO continues to manage media relations, brand reputation and crisis communications, social media is now also a central part of these responsibilities. This is because social media and mobility have changed the media landscape drastically. News breaks on Twitter. Everyone from your high school teacher to your mom shares photos, opinions and viral content on Facebook. And young people even want to see your brand on Snapchat.

Out of all of the growing responsibilities of the CCO, managing brand reputation is seen by communications leaders as the most important. Weber Shandwick’s report found that 28 percent of global CCOs prefer to focus on managing brand reputation above anything else, with media relations coming in at 7 percent, a distant second.


The Rising CCO VI: Roles & Perspectives of Chief Communications Officers

To do this, CCOs are partnering closely with the office of the CEO, social media marketing and human resources. Weber Shandwick’s findings show that 95 percent of CCOs report directly to the CEO, 92 percent also work closely with social media and 83 percent with human resources. This is good news as the partnership between communications, social marketing and human resources is crucial for the success of an employee communications and advocacy program. Plus, communications leaders are the most qualified to “steer the ship” when it comes managing brand reputation, whether it’s through traditional media relations or social media.

Technology plays an important role in the success of a large-scale employee advocacy program. For example, to manage the growing number of online channels, CCOs are becoming more reliant on data analytics for reputation and brand management. Weber Shandwick found that nine in ten CCOs want to have an application that can identify both company advocates and critics. Gartner’s research backs this up, showing that social marketers plan to increase their investments in technology to support growing social media and employee advocacy initiatives. Without a platform where communications leaders can track data, measuring the business results of employee sharing would be almost impossible.

At Dynamic Signal, we get see employee advocacy in action and witness how it upgrades what a brand can do to build a community, drive revenue and raise brand awareness. Research from this past year validates what we see in the field everyday: employees want to be more informed about the company and to be able to share their brand pride with their social networks. For communications leaders, there has never been a better time to raise a brand’s profile by informing and empowering employees.

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Dave Hawley

Vice President marketing, communication and sales development. SaaS start-up marketing leader including 5 start-ups and 2 $100M+ exits. Dave is one of the early pioneers in the employee advocacy category with over 4 years in the space.

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