Employee advocacy emerged a few years ago as a method to boost a brand’s reach, increase social media engagement and facilitate conversations about your company.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, employee advocacy is the practice of encouraging individual employees to help amplify your sales, marketing and human resources initiatives by sharing branded content via their personal networks.
Consider these statistics:
PostBeyond, a vendor of employee advocacy platforms, shared Altimeter Group research, which found interest in employee advocacy has grown 191 percent since 2013, with 45 percent of survey respondents naming it a top internal objective.
In a Hinge Research Institute study, 79 percent of companies surveyed reported more online visibility after they implemented formal employee advocacy programs, and 65 percent reported increased brand recognition.
The Hinge study further showed that measurable benefits of employee advocacy included increased inbound web traffic (cited by 44.9 percent of the respondents), better search engine rankings (32.4 percent) and increased content downloads (24.6 percent).
Although it’s clear employee advocacy is starting to catch on, very few companies have an official strategy or program to dictate these practices. In fact, the Hinge study found only 31 percent of high-growth companies have formal employee advocacy programs in place.
If your employer is among the companies that have yet to implement an employee advocacy program, this article will offer relatively easy steps you can take to do so, using a resource you probably already have — your intranet.
Related Article: Discussion Point: Transforming Employees Into Brand Advocates
Why Your Intranet?
Although there are many high-tech employee advocacy tools available, not all companies can afford those options and, to be honest, those tools are not always necessary. I recommend that you start by using your intranet to facilitate your employee advocacy efforts. Here’s why:
Your employees are already comfortable using your intranet. Using it for an employee advocacy program won’t throw yet another tool into your already crowded technology stack.
If you use your intranet, you won’t waste time listening to the sales pitches of pushy vendor sales reps or testing various platforms. You can start your employee advocacy program right now, while it’s at the top of your to-do list.
Using your intranet is inexpensive, and you already have the personnel and resources you need to operate it.
If you’re ready to get started, here’s a look at the key steps you can take with your existing intranet to get an employee advocacy program off the ground.
1. Train and Educate Workers About Employee Advocacy
Most companies already use their intranets as hubs for resources related to training and education. This includes everything from compliance training materials to onboarding documents to HR paperwork. An intranet can also include documentation and training resources related to employee advocacy.
Whether you work in marketing, sales or HR, you can put together documentation regarding your employee advocacy program. Include some basic background information on the importance of employee advocacy, company expectations and official guidelines, and instructions on how to access employee advocacy resources.
2. Build Communities and Forums
Think about the people you’re connected with on social media — we all have friends who advocate for their employers. These people tend to be those who are happily employed and engaged with the initiatives happening in their workplaces. And that makes sense — you wouldn’t expect unhappy employees to go out of their way to promote branded content or information, would you? Of course not.
For this reason, you should use your intranet to build an internal community or forum where employees can share resources, discuss ideas, celebrate accomplishments and talk about different activities happening within your company. This type of community facilitates a sense of belonging and importance among employees — which is a necessary part of having a more engaged and involved workforce.
True employee advocacy doesn’t just stem from one person or one department. Everyone must get involved. An internal message board or forum is an easy way to generate the most involvement possible.
Related Article: The Role of Intranets in the Age of Social Networks
3. Ask Tough Questions, Accept Tough Feedback
It’s critical to get feedback from your employees, either publicly through your intranet forum or through an anonymous survey hosted on your intranet. As with any employee satisfaction survey, the answers may be tough to hear.
But until you can assess and remedy the issues standing in the way of employee advocates, your employees will never be on board with your advocacy initiatives. Here are some sample questions to get you started:
How much company news do you share each week?
What channel are you most likely to use to promote company initiatives?
What prevents you from sharing more company news?
What can your employer do to encourage employee advocacy?
What incentives would help you advocate for your employer more?
Use this feedback to build an employee advocacy program that appeals to your employees’ sharing preferences.
Your employees can be your most valuable resource when it comes to promoting brand initiatives, recruiting candidates to fill jobs and generating interest in your company. But employee advocacy only works if your team is genuinely engaged. It’s not enough to take a photo of employees watching a movie or sharing lunch on a Friday. If your employees aren’t engaged, your audience will know.
If you use these tips to facilitate genuine employee advocacy using your intranet, you’ll see just how powerful your employees are. What are you waiting for?