Your Short Guide to Crafting a Successful Employee Advocacy Plan
It’s safe to say that the role of employees in shaping a company's brand image, humanizing it, and adding credibility and authenticity to it has become increasingly significant. An employee advocacy plan is a strategic approach that harnesses employees' potential by encouraging them to support and promote their company on social media and other platforms.
Developing an employee advocacy plan
The first step in developing an employee advocacy plan is to define clear objectives — what does the organization hope to achieve through this plan? Goals may range from increasing brand awareness and generating leads to attracting top talent and enhancing employee engagement.
Once the goals are set, the next step is to identify the target group within the employee base that can best help achieve these objectives. This group might include employees with active social media presence, those naturally inclined towards advocacy, or individuals in roles well-positioned to influence others, such as sales or customer service.
Building a culture that fosters advocacy
A successful employee advocacy program is deeply rooted in the company's culture. It requires building an environment where employees feel connected to the company's mission and values.
This connection is fostered through regular communication, transparency, and recognition of employee contributions. Employees are more likely to advocate for a company they feel emotionally invested in. Therefore, efforts should be made to effectively involve employees in decision-making processes, celebrate their achievements, and address their concerns.
A successful employee advocacy plan goes beyond social sharing — unthinkingly pushing content to your employees to have them re-share it on their social media profiles — it aims to build a community with those employees, to build and maintain a strong relationship with them. It all hinges on collaboration, feedback loops, exchanging ideas and opinions, working together on projects and posts, etc.
The pillars of a strong employee advocacy plan
Employee training and engagement are critical components of an effective advocacy plan and the pillars of a solid strategy.
Let’s start with training: this should encompass not just social media guidelines on what to share but also on how to use social media effectively for professional purposes. It should cover aspects of digital literacy, understanding of the brand's tone and messaging, and awareness of legal and ethical considerations in online sharing.
The goal is to make sure employees feel empowered to share their own stories and experiences in a way that feels natural and genuine, rather than just broadcasting company-generated content.
That’s where engagement comes in: you can’t expect to build a plan that rests on people following your instructions like minions — you want to engage your employee ambassadors in your initiatives so that they’ll feel willing to follow you and spread the word.
Crafting a content strategy to ensure a successful employee advocacy plan
The success of an employee advocacy plan and program largely depends on the content. The content shared by employees should be engaging, valuable, and share-worthy. For it to be all of those things, it should resonate with the employees and their networks.
Developing a diverse content strategy that includes industry insights, behind-the-scenes glimpses, employee stories, and company news can keep the content engaging and varied. Additionally, creating a content library or resource center where employees can easily access and share content can significantly enhance participation in the advocacy program.
Going back to the collaboration part: make sure you’re engaging your employees in your content strategy: co-creation is not just a buzzword, it’s truly the key to crafting top-notch and insightful content that people will be interested in, not just your own but their audience too.
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Incentivizing participation with recognition programs
Employee advocacy shows (and requires) commitment, passion, and dedication from the employees, which should not be taken for granted. This is why businesses need to implement robust reward and recognition programs to effectively harness this power and show appreciation for the employees’ efforts.
Reward and recognition ideas are crucial in motivating employees to become advocates. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to speak positively about their workplace, enhancing the company's image and reputation.
While monetary rewards can be effective, non-monetary incentives often carry more emotional value.
Recognition in company meetings, spotlight features in internal communications, or opportunities for professional development can be powerful motivators. On top of that, gamification elements like leaderboards, badges, and challenges can make participation more enjoyable and competitive. There are a ton of reward and recognition ideas that can truly make a difference in your employee advocacy plan, you just have to find the ones that match your company culture the most.
Measuring the success of your employee advocacy plan
An employee advocacy plan should include a mechanism for measuring its effectiveness: it’s essential to measuring success and attribution and proving that the program is worth it.
This could involve tracking metrics such as engagement rates, reach, website traffic from employee-shared links, or leads generated through employee networks. However, it's also important to gather qualitative feedback from employees – their experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement. This feedback can provide invaluable insights for refining the advocacy program.
An employee advocacy plan is not a one-time initiative but an ongoing journey. It requires a strategic approach, a culture that supports advocacy, effective training, engaging content, appropriate incentives, and regular evaluation and adjustment. When executed well, employee advocacy can.