Your employees' posts on their own networks can be one of your best tools.
The level of engagement in the workplace has a direct impact on your company's profitability. According to Gallup's report on workplace engagement, companies with high engagement levels have 147 percent higher earnings and are 21 percent more profitable.
There are lots of strategies for increasing engagement within the workplace. Getting your team on board with advocacy is one of the best ways to get them involved with the business. It can also improve employee performance and influence your business growth.
However, getting your employees to share company content on their social media pages or blogs can be tricky. Most people like to keep their professional and personal lives separate. So, how can businesses make the idea of advocacy exciting and attractive to the people who make up the company?
1. Don't be afraid to discuss looming problems.
Many businesses mistakenly think that advocacy needs to be entirely promotional. Advocacy is not just a PR tactic to build positive sentiment (though that is definitely important). What makes employee advocacy so powerful is the fact that it is a real person with genuine knowledge about a business sharing their opinion. This is why people are far more likely to trust recommendations from peers than, say, the company's CEO and branded content.
If your employee advocacy is strictly copied-and-pasted messages praising your brand, people are going to see right through it. Don't shy away from letting your employees share their honest opinions, even if they aren't entirely positive. In fact, embracing constructive criticism can lead to better advocacy because it allows for honest conversations about issues that business leaders may not be aware of.
This does not mean that you should encourage bashing or negative content. However, your business can encourage employees to discuss their opinions on the mistakes your company has made, how things are changing, and suggestions for solutions. This creates constructive and authentic content that can provide leaders with some great ideas for new strategies straight from the source.
2. Make it easy with content libraries.
Simply asking your employees to take time out of their day to write posts about your company sounds like just another task for the to-do list. And if it's optional, chances are that it is not going to happen.
Creating a library of approved posts and links to branded content makes it much easier for your team to find things to share with their networks. Not only does this provide your company with a little more control over the type of messages that your employees share, it can also be a great addition to your current marketing strategy. For example, if your business is featured in an article on a well-known site, having your employees share it is an easy way to boost traffic and increase brand visibility.
There are lots of tools to help you create a portfolio of branded content for employee advocacy sharing. A shared Dropbox folder or spreadsheet of approved links works great. It really depends on your goals: If your team wants more control over the content, then a thought knowledge library is a great way to give your employees access to top-notch content to share with their networks.
3. Talk about what's in it for them.
Employee advocacy is extremely beneficial for businesses. Not only is the message deemed more credible and trustworthy, it reaches wider audiences than a company-owned account could. However, simply helping your company grow its social media following and gain some extra clients may not be motivation enough for them to really get on board with advocacy.
The good news is that a great advocacy program can actually provide some amazing benefits for your team members as well. Nearly 70 percent of workers who were involved in these programs reported that it helped their career by expanding their professional networking capabilities, helped them become more knowledgeable about their industry, and opened up more partnership opportunities.
As you start the conversation about implementing an employee advocacy program, be sure to hit on the importance of personal branding. If your employees are sharing great content about your business and industry, it displays their knowledge and passion for their career. If they are creating their own pieces, such as blog posts, they are well on their way to becoming thought leaders in their own right.
4. Show appreciation for participation.
Finally, don't let your employees' participation go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the majority of people in the workplace feel unappreciated. Of course, this leads directly to a disengaged environment, which completely counteracts any efforts toward advocacy. However, one study found that the employees believe just a simple 'thank you' and effort toward recognition would increase their level of engagement and motivate them to perform better.
If your employees are getting involved with advocacy, let them know publicly that you see their effort and appreciate their contribution. Simply retweeting them, sharing their posts or mentioning their involvement during meetings can do wonders.
Employee advocacy is a wonderful tool for reaching expanded audiences and creating a more dedicated work environment. However, your team may need a little motivation to share company content on their personal networks. By allowing them to share their opinions and providing the tools they need for branded content, it will be far easier to get them on board. Open up the conversation about personal branding and show your appreciation for their efforts.