Employee advocacy is involving your employees in the distribution of content. This is a good idea, because employees are in a relevant social network. The Edelman Trust Barometer is an American study which indicates that it is not the brand and not the CEO, but an employee that is the most reliable source for content. Quite logical, since an employee knows his 'peers' personally and is therefore the most credible as a trustworthy source of information.

Edelman Trust Barometer

In an article I wrote earlier with the title: Why your employees are the explosion, I got the response that employees are not meant for employee advocacy. According to the writer, it leads to the erosion of their social network because their network drops out due to commercial spam.

Seen it already? This is why employee advocacy should not be missing in your marketing plan.

If a company sends 'commercial spam' over the air, then I certainly agree with the commentator. Relevance is, after all, crucial for a content strategy and the non-committal nature of sharing by the ambassador. After all, the content must fit.

Employee Advocacy is involving your employees in the distribution of content.

The research on employee advocacy that Weber Shandwick did together with KRC Research provides a different picture. It shows that many people are already working as ambassadors for their company by sharing messages and content. For example:

  • 50% already post messages, photos, and videos through their employer's social channels
  • 33% do so naturally and without any encouragement from the employer
  • 39% share positive online responses about their employer
  • 16% share criticism or negative comments about their employer
  • 14% have shared something about their employer that they will later regret

By facilitating and making content sharing easier this will only increase your reach.

What's in it for them?

How to turn your employees into social influencers

During the Employee Advocacy training, discover how to turn employees into brand ambassadors on social media.

More information

It is important that there is reciprocity in the sharing of content by employees. How can they benefit? With employee advocacy it is very important that an employee benefits as much from sharing content as the company itself. Because content is exclusive and cannot be found anywhere else, an employee can offer his followers something that can only be obtained through him. This is how he works on his own 'thought leadership.'

The employee may not have the time or talent to write an article, but if he is handed it and it is 'unique,' then his own brand value will increase within his peer group. It also provides him with interaction and perhaps even sales. He may receive more responses to his posts and about his company and then it is nice if he does not have to refer someone, but can immediately arrange or solve something for his 'inner circle.' This is also something that companies should facilitate.

Research from Hinge Research Institute shows that 86% of employees who participate in an Employee Advocacy Program indicate that this has a positive effect on their careers. The biggest benefits they mention are that they can update both themselves and their network about the trends and market developments in their industry. In addition, they can inform their network about skills and new insights that are needed in their profession. Millennials see 'engagement' on their content as an important added value for their status as a professional. In addition, for millennials it is a way of communication that naturally suits them.

Employee Advocacy Dashboard Soworker

Analytics are important…

It is also important to give employees insight into the impact they can make through sharing things on social media. It not only works as a reward, but also ensures the (self-)awareness that they matter and contribute to the goals of the company. For example, it is good to show how much reach is generated by sharing the views of their content with them if they are, for example, the author of an article.

When they share company content on social media, it is possible to see the number of likes, re-tweets, etc. For many people, one of the most addictive aspects of social media is to check who has liked your post or responded to your article. Within the company, it is also nice to see how one contributes compared to other employees. A personal benchmark, as it were. For example, competitive companies make use of top 10 lists or Employee of the Month, which is a great opportunity to highlight your staff. LinkedIn also has built in a number of those motivating features, such as 'How you rank with profile views’ and 'Who's viewed your articles.'

Employee Advocacy Soworker Dashboard 2

Click on the image for a larger view

Not every employee is an ambassador

Finally, it should be noted that content sharing is not for every employee. Unfortunately, not every employee is an ambassador and some employees sometimes look more negatively at their own company than a company would like.

Employees who do qualify are those who have a relationship with the company. They are proud of their company and feel an integral part of it. Certainly at companies where cognitive development is done and a lot is invested in employees, a content strategy will hold up better. It appears to work well if companies 'empower' employees by giving them training in social media usage. This includes everything from optimizing the LinkedIn profile to the do's and don'ts of social media. Some employees fear sharing because they are afraid they are doing something wrong. Explanation of the social guidelines regarding sharing helps to remove that fear.

It is clear that employee advocacy is on the rise and helps by content sharing. As long as companies realize that they must give something back to the employee and also respect the role they play (or may not want to play), we will see that employee advocacy will make a positive contribution to a company's content strategy.