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Recommendations from friends and family are the most influential forms of advertising, as 84 percent of global respondents to a Nielsen online survey said this source was the most trustworthy.
The survey dates back to 2013, but we can safely assume that the influence of brand ambassadors has only increased with the growing use of social media.
No wonder marketing managers invest lots of time and effort in this way of influencing potential customers! One place they look for ambassadors is at home: the company’s own employees.
However, the marketing department should not be solely responsible for employee advocacy. In this article, we will talk about how HR and recruitment can play a role in developing an employee advocacy program.
Simply put, it is the promotion of your brand and your company by the people who work for it. It’s the good old “word of mouth” gone digital. Your employees post about their work on social media all the time. Of course, as an HR professional, you’re pleased if they say positive things about their employer, but you can’t make them do that.
Or can you?
The possible benefits of employee advocacy are too obvious to be satisfied with informal sharing. It pays off to implement employee advocacy as a strategic, sustainable program. For HR, this implies giving employees content, tools and incentives to promote their company as a great place to work.
The social media reach of your employees combined will, most probably, span miles beyond your brand reach and the platforms you’re on.
A higher level of trust
By sharing the right content or just liking updates, your employees spread positive employer brand awareness. Because this publicity is more authentic and organic, potential job candidates tend to trust it more.
If you’re looking for top talents – of course, you are - employee referrals prove to be the best way to acquire them. Referred employees perform better than average and stay longer.
As said, employee advocacy is too important to leave it to the whims of your employees. To fully benefit from this essential form of free publicity, you’ll need to approach it strategically.
Here are some suggestions to implement a stimulating and sustainable employee advocacy program.
Setting concrete goals and objectives will keep everyone who’s involved focused and enables you to measure the results of the program. Think of targets such as the number of employees you want to turn into advocates, the percentage increase of social content engagement, or the number of attributable new hires per year.
Decide what you want your employees to share
Company news, impressions of outings and events, job postings, all different kinds of content can play a role in recruitment. But remember: what your employees want to share is their prerogative. Employee advocacy should always be voluntary and, the content needs to be relevant to your employees and their followers.
See to it that there is always fresh content for your advocates to post. In How To Create Great Recruitment Marketing Content, you’ll find some inspiring examples. We also suggest assembling a content team. Your employees know best what sort of content their colleagues will want to share, and what will resonate in their networks.
Clear guidelines on what to share and how to share it will make your employee advocacy program more consistent and effective. These guidelines should be helpful, not restrictive. Employee advocacy is all about freedom and trust. Consider a training session to help your advocates make the most of their social media presence.
Make the program sustainable.
An employee advocacy program needs time to grow before it produces any effect. To keep your advocates engaged, not only should you provide them with the kind of content they are happy to share but also, recognize their efforts, keep them informed of the results and stimulate them with meaningful rewards.
To make your employee advocacy program work, you’ll need tools for sharing, curating and distributing the content. Quite a few exist, each with their own features. Some can help with content distribution and sharing, like LinkedIn Elevate, while others specialize in gamifying as a method to reward employees.
The most important consideration is to make it easy and stimulating for your employees to become active ambassadors. More often, people use their mobile phones to engage with their social media apps. For employers, a mobile-first employee communications app is also the best tool to keep their ambassadors engaged, informed and provided with shareable content. In fact, it’s the only communication tool if you want to enrol non-desk and frontline workers in your advocacy program. Moreover, an employee communication app has numerous useful features, such as the option to tailor your content to teams and individuals, keep track of the results with powerful analytics, recognize and reward your ambassadors, and integrate these features with your other tools.
Your employees are your most important recruiters. How they talk about you on their social media platforms can make or break your reputation as an employer. By setting up an employee advocacy program, you can make full use of this resource, and turn informal sharing into a strategic weapon. An employee advocacy program only works if it is sustainable because it takes time to grow and bring results. But, the results will come if you provide your employees with the right tools and content.
Interested to know how to effectively communicating with and engage a millennial and Gen Z workforce? Download our eBook here!
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