Leading companies are realising wide-ranging benefits by encouraging and supporting employee advocacy through social media
It’s high time you joined them, argues Axiom’s digital guru Helen Reinson.
There’s a new trend in social media – one that all comms and HR professionals worth their salt need to understand and capitalise on. It has the potential to transform an organisation’s brand and external reputation as well as driving employee engagement. I’m talking about employee advocacy.
Defined as “the promotion of an organisation by its staff often by using social media”, employee advocacy has been driven by the phenomenal rise of mobile devices and social media. The line between personal and professional social media usage is blurring as employees increasingly use their personal social media presence to defend and promote the company they work for. According to a recent survey, 50% of employees are already posting about their company. What’s more, the number of companies blocking social media sites on their networks is falling by 10% per year.
Building the brand
Before we dive into what employee advocacy means for employee engagement, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits to an organisation’s brand and reputation:
- 561% greater reach for brand messages when shared by employees vs. the same messages shared via official company social channels.
- 8x more engagement with content shared by employees than shared by company channels.
- An employee advocate is 2x more trusted than a CEO.
- 10x more social connections on average for each employee compared with a company.
- 90% of customers trust product or service recommendations from people they know, with just 33% of buyers trusting the company.
- 24x more frequent brand message shares when distributed by employees vs. being distributed by the company.
The question is: What kind of messages are they posting – positive, negative, even outright damning? Relax… the evidence suggests that the postings are mostly positive and defensive of the company they work for. For instance, 39% of employees have shared praise or positive comments online about their employer whereas only 16% have shared criticism or negative comments.
And, oh, how much better would it be to have a whole army of employee advocates sharing content supportive of company products, services and overall approach to audiences you’d otherwise fail to reach or influence?
The employee advocacy trend is also driving employee engagement. This is bringing four key benefits:
When you give employees an active role in talking about the company on social media, as well as the freedom to express their views (all within the corporate guidelines, of course), they instantly feel more included in the organisation and the journey it is on. Chances are they’ll also have a greater understanding of the integral part they play, however great or small.
2. Authentic understanding of messages
A key requirement of effective employee advocacy is that the organisation makes available a steady stream of high-quality digital content, aligned with its over-reaching strategies, for advocates to share. While posting and sharing, advocates will, by default, be consuming the content and absorbing key messages in a more natural and authentic way. At the same time, they will be influencing and educating their colleagues in the same manner.
3. Talent retention
Employees of a socially engaged company are 20% more likely to stay at their company and 27% more likely to feel optimistic about their companies’ future, according to recent research.
4. Smarter recruitment
Employee advocates can be especially helpful in recruitment when they share job posts with their network. Recruitment by referral has been shown by Jobvite to have many advantages:
- Recruitment that is 67% quicker and 51% cheaper.
- The highest applicant-to-hire ratio compared to other sources.
- 47% greater job satisfaction among those recruited through social media referral.
What’s more, recruitment by social media is more likely to yield socially savvy recruits who are, in turn, ready to become your next tranche of advocates.
Leading the way
LinkedIn has identified the world’s most socially engaged companies based on billions of signals and insights.
Isn’t it about time your organisation joined these leading lights in using social media-powered employee advocacy to build your brand and engage your people?
To get you started, here are some basic steps you can take right now:
- Ensure all employees are aware which social platforms the company posts on and invite them to follow.
- Identify initial employee advocates and bring them on board.
- Regularly promote company posts internally and ask for employees to support by sharing and liking.
To learn more about implementing an employee advocacy strategy, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Axiom’s workshop Getting the Most from Social Media.