Quick! Name the most powerful asset of your company.
Hopefully, you said your employees. If that’s not the first asset that comes to mind, here’s why it should be:
- Leads generated by employee advocacy are seven times more likely to convert than leads generated otherwise (IBM)
- Employee advocacy results in a five time increase in web traffic and 25 percent more leads (Inc.)
- 84 percent of people trust recommendations from people they know (findandconvert.com)
- Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees versus by brand (MSL Group)
Sounds like great news, right? It would be; however, unengaged employees make up 74 percent of the average company’s workforce (MSL Group). Too often, companies don’t utilize their most powerful marketing tool – their employees.
Give Employees A Reason to Be Engaged
You can’t force employees to advocate for your brand. Just like with consumers, that relationship has to be built on trust. Employees want to feel like they are invested in the company. Encourage employees to submit ideas, introduce new leads or take on special roles. Make them feel important to the success of the company (because they are). The happier they are at work, the more inclined they will be to share positive stories of their company.
Incentives don’t hurt either, as long as the engagement is genuine. It’s a fine line to cross when offering incentives such as commission or vacation time, so be cautious if you work that into your plan.
Show Employees How to Be Engaged
Social media is the most common form of employee advocacy. Encourage employees to interact with company posts and invite others to follow the company page.
However, you’ll need to provide written rules for how to use social media as an employee. Remind the employees that by participating in the program, they are representing the company, and therefore, they need to know what is appropriate or inappropriate to associate with the company. For example, while Morgan was searching for a job, she researched a potential employer on Facebook, only to find employees “checking in” and writing that they couldn’t wait to leave. Needless to say, it deterred her from pursuing a career at that company as well as her desire to use their services.
Social media isn’t the only way for employees to advocate for your business. Encourage them to network by attending events and participating in professional development opportunities as well.
Demonstrate How Employees’ Engagement Is Effective
Employees will want to know how they are making a difference. Show them by measuring the company’s performance periodically after this practice has been set in motion – whether through sales reports, social media analytics, website traffic or new clients.
Just like a company’s consumers, employees want to be engaged as well. Engaging employees outside of work can build a brand’s reputation and remind the consumer that there are real people powering that brand. As a bonus, employee advocacy not only improves sales, it increases employee engagement (Gartner), making work a happier and more productive place to be.