What you’ll learn:
- Why internal communication is the foundation of an advocacy program
- An engaged workforce is more likely to share your brand story on social media
- Strong advocacy programs benefit both the company and the employees
When people really want to know something about an organization and its products, they go directly to the best source.
People on the front lines are in the know. They have the inside scoop and can dish the real story. They are trusted.
The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 40 percent of people rate employees as “very or extremely credible.” That’s well ahead of CEOs (44 percent) and Board of Directors (41 percent). It’s also why employees are the most authentic voices for telling your brand’s story.
But they won’t be effective advocates if they don’t have the best information that’s easily accessible for them to share with their social media networks. Even more importantly, they won’t want to be advocates if they don’t feel like they genuinely matter to the organization.
The foundation of an excellent advocacy program is a clear, transparent internal communication system that makes people feel part of something larger than themselves. One cannot occur without the other.
It’s a better together story
Employees are more invested when they understand the organization’s mission and values, feel heard, and their efforts get recognized. Then, some portion of the workforce will be more likely to share their passion for the organization and the cool things happening in their workplace with the broader world.
The good news is that companies, in general, are finding success in creating better employee experiences. Gallup research showed in 2020 that 40 percent of U.S. workers are engaged on the job. That’s the highest ever since Gallup began tracking the metric in 2000. (The 13 percent of employees who are actively disengaged tied for the lowest level in the poll’s history.)
Jim Harter, Gallup’s workplace management expert, wrote that one of the key factors is how the best organizations excel in companywide communication.
That kind of communication-driven engagement is crucial to creating a powerful advocacy engine. Employees don’t want to be seen as an untapped marketing channel. But if they understand what’s in it for them and how this helps them build their brands on social media, some will be eager to become advocates.
Michael Brito, the author of “Participation Marketing: Unleashing Employees to Participate and Become Brand Storytellers,” believes in the “1/9/90 rule” for mobilizing the workforce. His formula for success is when 1 percent of employees post content, 9 percent share it, and the other 90 percent passively follow the conversation.
“You don’t need everyone in the organization involved,” said Brito, Executive Vice President at the Zeno Group. “If you can get the one percent of storytellers and the nine percent engaged, then you’re going to win. That one percent is going to write the blog post, write the Glassdoor review, start a discussion. Then the nine percent is going to amplify it by sharing. That’s a huge opportunity for a company.”
On average, employees have 10 times more first-degree connections on LinkedIn than a company has followers.
It cuts through the noise in ways that traditional brand marketing cannot
Here are some examples of how our customers are using the strategy of communication-based employee advocacy to tell their brand stories.
Empowering employees to deliver on a lifesaving mission
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Their mission is to save lives, celebrate lives, and to lead the fight for a world without cancer. With thousands of employees out in the field, it was challenging to provide real-time communications.
“Our staff are patient navigators in hospitals. They’re out in communities, organizing Relay for Life events and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. So having that critical information the palm of their hands is so essential to them doing their jobs.”— JoEllen Saeli-Lane, Vice President of Organizational Communications at the American Cancer Society
“The value to the American Cancer Society is equipping and empowering our staff to be better ambassadors of ACS,” explains JoEllen. By having information at their fingertips, the staff is more efficient and effective and free to take on new tasks and projects that they would not have had time to do before.
Ambassador program drives success
Members of the communication team at Nestlé USA recently talked about how a handpicked group of employee ambassadors are the leaders for a companywide initiative to expand the brand’s reach through front-line workers.
They share a wide range of Nestlé-created content on social media about great things happening at the company, new products, and food trends in general.
“People only believe so much about what companies say about themselves, especially in our digital environment, the way Millennials and Gen Z view large companies.”— Liz Caselli-Mechael, Global Head of Digital & Content
“They’re coming at what a company says with a pretty high degree of skepticism. But it’s different when you see an incredibly sincere, personal voice from an employee. It radiates with excitement and enthusiasm. It’s like being excited to try a restaurant with a great review on Yelp. It’s more credible and more believable.”
New ways to amplify engagement
Extreme Networks spent a tremendous amount of time creating content that people across the company were not consuming. “Our salesforce was screaming that they didn’t have the content, and they didn’t have the tools. Our intranet site was just a graveyard of content,” said Steve Harrington, Vice President of Global Marketing, Extreme Networks. Working smarter, not harder: Extreme Networks changed the way they communicate with employees by leveraging data to optimize communications.
All employee communications are now distributed on the E360 platform, powered by Firstup. What’s more, Extreme Networks was able to correlate sales productivity with platform engagement: 60% of the reps that regularly exceeded quota use the platform and engage with the content daily.
“We saw that the employees who were meeting and exceeding their quotas were also the employees most engaged with E360. […] The more engaged the employees are, the more effective they’re going to be.”— Lisa Yeaton, Extreme Networks
It’s a win-win
But it only happens because all three companies emphasize keeping their employees informed – and then cultivate their advocacy. That won’t happen if employees don’t know, understand, or believe in the organization.
And that begins with great communication
10 benefits of employee advocacy
- Increasing brand visibility
- Attracting new business
- Humanizing brand
- Strengthening employee engagement
- Building brand loyalty
- Highlighting positive workplace culture
- Amplifying thought leadership and insights
- Raising profile of employees
- Sharing customer success stories
- Recruiting and retaining talent