Daniel Ku, Director of Marketing, at PostBeyond shares his thoughts and advice on advocacy strategy

When creating a new company strategy for any element of your internal processes, it’s no secret that it needs to be appealing and engaging for your employees. Exactly the same goes for your employee advocacy strategy; in order to work, you need to get your employees on board before you do anything else.

Let’s take a look at employee advocacy – what does it involve? Essentially, it’s all about how a brand is promoted from inside its organisation. With 84% of consumers claiming that they value recommendations from people within their personal network – such as family and friends – above any other form of advertising, a strong employee advocacy strategy puts brands on the path for financial and marketing success.

Here are three things your company needs to have in place before launching your new strategy:

A content strategy that your employees will want to share with their network

Before you can launch an employee advocacy programme within your organisation, you need to have a strong content strategy in place and it needs to champion your overarching business objectives.

Whether your aim is to find top talent or to grow your social media presence, this will help to shape your understanding of what content types your business should be creating in order for your employees to want to promote it online. For example, insightful blog posts, quirky job ads, news coverage, ebooks…the list goes on!

Once your content is planned out, the next step is encouraging staff to share this content online and with their personal network. Encourage teams to interact with one another so they’re up to date with what new content is going live on your website or social media, as well as ensure content is going to be relevant and interesting to your employees and their network – if you’re a global company, for example, sharing US specific content with your European team will not engage them.

Another point to consider is whether you have employees who could get involved with the content creation process – whether it’s requesting highlights from each department’s recent activity to share in a monthly round-up blog post, or asking team leads to share their knowledge in an industry publication, your staff can all contribute.

Successfully teach the value of employee advocacy to staff

To encourage employees to engage with an advocacy programme, they will need to have a deep understanding of; why the strategy is being launched; the impact it will have on the company and any positive benefits for them. Open communication through platforms such as Slack or company newsletters can do this successfully, where staff are given the opportunity to ask questions and get involved with the strategy.

‘But, what’s in it for me?’ you may hear many of your employees ask. Well, not only does this help them to positively represent the company they work for and give them the opportunity to share details about the workplace they’re proud to work for, it’s natural to want a personal benefit too. This can come about through the development of each employee’s personal brand; by sharing and creating content on behalf of their company, which demonstrates their personal knowledge and skill, they’ll be able to stand out on the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn. In fact, research reveals that  86% of workers involved in an employee advocacy programme have said that it has had a positive impact on their career.

Demonstrate your support of employees on this, by running training sessions about the value of personal branding and representing their company in a way that will better their own career. In turn, this will help them become the best advocates for your brand.

Make it straightforward and fun for your team

If a member of your team feels like an employee advocacy programme is going to consume their work time – or personal time – they’re going to be less inclined to get on board.

As well as being relevant and interesting, like we discussed earlier on, it also has to be easy to share. Remember, not all of your employees will have the same interest in social media – some will be social media butterflies, and some may be happy to engage with online posts for work and for their company but not on a personal level. However, both types should be encouraged as it’s still going to open up opportunities for advocacy.

For some companies, gamification can be an effective method to engage employees; for example, the first employee to hit 10 retweets on a company post on Twitter could improve their position on an internal leaderboard, or whoever achieves the best engagement throughout the year could win some sort of prize. Get creative!

Ultimately, your employees have the potential to be authoritative voices for your brand. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer highlighted the social impact employee advocacy can have, finding that 67% of employees expect their jobs to have a ‘meaningful societal impact’. An employee advocacy strategy can contribute significantly to company culture, especially if wider areas of your working environment is positive and encouraging – your team is more likely to be enthusiastic about getting involved.

When used effectively, social media can be a hugely successful way to share your brand’s values, purpose and activity, and the voices your team contribute can add to this.