Building a strong brand is important for any business or community-based organization. Your brand connects you to your stakeholders and builds a narrative about who you are and what you offer.
Nowadays, one of the best ways to build a brand is to create a strong social media presence. Posting authentic, user-friendly content on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook can grow your profile and help you reach new audiences.
But building a following on social media is hard. Even if you use every analytical tool available to you, you may find that your channels just aren’t growing as you’d like. If this is the case, you may find a solution in an often overlooked area: employee brand advocacy.
What is Employee Brand Advocacy?
Employee brand advocacy occurs when internal stakeholders (i.e employees) use their personal reach to engage an audience that is close to them. This may be something simple — like using word-of-mouth marketing to expose your brand to their friends — or more complex — like using their role in the community organizations to talk about your brand.
You can promote employee brand advocacy by giving away free merch to employees. Employees who want to wear your clothing will expose your brand to audiences that you otherwise would not have reached. This can be particularly effective if your free merch aligns with your market. For example, if you sell athletic wear, encourage employees to take pictures in your gear. This is a great way to pique the interest of other fitness enthusiasts online.
You can also use influencers as a form of employee brand advocacy. Influencers aren’t always regarded as employees but are a fantastic connection to communities beyond your typical reach. When working with an influencer, try to choose a trusted figure who can help build trust and brand awareness in new markets.
Benefits of Employee Brand Advocacy
Employee brand advocacy might sound like a Machiavellian way to land new customers and grow your reach. But, if you’ve done your job right, happy employees should want to talk about your brand. These happy employees can be your best advocates, as they will help convince new customers to try your product or service out for the first time.
You can also expect to gain greater customer loyalty and retention thanks to employee brand advocacy. Building a brand that people trust is hard, but a personal connection can make all the difference. Over time, improved customer loyalty can lead to repeat purchases and a higher ROI for all of your marketing projects. That’s because employee-led brand advocacy is already highly personalized to potential customers, and folks are more likely to engage with posts created by their friends and family.
Employees who show their love for your brand can grow your social media following and improve customer retention. However, you can only expect to see meaningful gains in your social media presence if you encourage brand advocacy that is authentic and in line with your overall marketing plan.
Inauthentic brand advocacy can make your brand look like a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM). MLMs occur when folks use their personal social media pages to promote a company’s product or service and take a chunk out of every sale or conversion. Running an employee brand advocacy scheme that makes your company look like an MLM will tank your brand and push customers away.
You can take control of your employee brand advocacy program by creating posts and hosting events that employees want to share. This ensures you retain control over your overall brand image while amplifying your reach and engagement through employees’ personal social media pages. Just ensure that any posts or branded events are in line with your overall marketing plan.
Your Overall Marketing Plan
You must consider your overall marketing plan before pushing employee brand advocacy at work. Employees who share content that doesn’t fall in line with your overall brand strategy can create confusion and weaken your overall brand image.
You can take the reins by creating an effective project scope document. A project scope document should give you a “big picture” view of your marketing plan and show employees how their advocacy can fit in within that plan. Ideally, your project scope document should be collaborative and include plenty of input from employees. This will improve buy-in and ensure that employees want to share your content.
After creating a collaborative plan, try to encourage employee engagement with current social media materials. You can do this by sending out internal documents with links to relevant posts and content. Employees who engage with your posts can drive organic growth and make a meaningful difference to your overall marketing plan.
Employee brand advocacy can boost the reach and engagement of your social media posts. Even a few extra likes go a long way in promoting your content to grow social media followers. Just make sure you involve your employees before asking your employees to advocate for your brand online, as this will improve buy-in and help you retain control over your overall brand image.