Everyone is talking about it right now; ‘Employee Advocacy.’ But what is it really? Why should we spend energy on it? And what is the value? You’ll get the answers in this article.

What is employee advocacy?

Employee advocacy is a term that covers the activity and visibility, your employees and colleagues create through their own channels and personal presences on, for example, social media. This can be anything from liking one’s company’s content on LinkedIn, to participation in discussions in professional forums, emails, and so on.

Why employee advocacy?

In many (especially B2B) companies, sales are based on personal relationships. It’s about awareness, but it’s just as much about trust. The agency Link Humans highlights two major benefits of action: Reach and Influence:

Reach
Your employees’ total reach far exceeds the reach of the vast majority of companies. Just think of LinkedIn or Facebook – how many people are there in your colleagues’ network as compared to the number of followers on your company pages? In addition, a company often limits its activities to a selected number of platforms, while one’s colleagues often use many different platforms – perhaps also relevant niche sites. Unfortunately, companies often experience a decreasing impact of social media in the form of declining organic reach – it is also here that employees’ efforts can help.

Influence
Influence is very difficult to measure – but it is nevertheless a significant factor in one’s choice of supplier and partner. We often choose suppliers we trust, or those recommended by others in our network. This trust can be difficult to create by the company alone, and here our colleagues can once again come into play.

Are employees worth more than fans?

Employee Advocates

Many have also started to make the comparison shown here to the right (from Social Media Today) , where the number of fans on Facebook, for example, are directly compared to the effect that can be created by using employees’ personal networks. These types of models can be a good way to visualize the potential, but they are not an indicator of how the company’s content is actually shared. It’s difficult to compare the company’s voice directly with the employee’s voice, because they typically will also use the two “channels” very differently and the impact also differs depending on the employee’s network, effort, and the likes.

Get started

If you want to get started with employee advocacy in your company, there are a number of considerations that should be made in the process. These include:

  1. Find the right people internally
  2. Consider internal training
  3. Promote the value of the individual in sharing content
  4. Set goals and targets for action
  5. Create/update internal guidelines
  6. Find the right content
  7. Consider acquisitions of systems to facilitate the process
  8. Consider internal reward or competitive elements
  9. Monitor the dialogue about the company
  10. Measure the effects of the effort. Get tips on why your colleagues should be active on LinkedIn in this article, and how to get your colleagues to share content here.

Measuring the effects of the effort

How you measure the effects of the effort depends of course on what you hope to get out of the process. It is therefore necessary to determine your goals for the process, what metrics you should measure, and how you will measure them. Below I have listed a number of suggested metrics:

  • Traffic to the website and landing pages
  • Reach on updates from social media
  • The number of shares and likes of employee-contributed content
  • The percentage of employees that participate in content sharing
  • The employees’ increasing ”popularity” – for example profile views and new connections on LinkedIn
  • Number of leads and sales resulting from the effort.

An important element that many forget in the process, is to share the results with your employees. Remember to share the success stories so that everyone can follow developments and want to continue the effort. Also share the things that did not work, so all of you can learn along the way.

What are your experiences?

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