Employees are one of the most valuable and trusted marketing assets available in today’s digital world. They are both digital and social-savvy in the connected world i.e., Connected Employees. With the rise of social media, employees are empowered with right tools and technologies to talk about employers in the social channels without any support and encouragement from their employers. What does it mean? We live in the age of millennials and trust has become a new marketing currency for businesses. The result of which businesses are far more willing to trust employees’ words than business leaders’ statements.
Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today survey reports have highlighted that companies with employee advocacy programs resulted in increased brand visibility, brand recognition, and brand loyalty. Would you miss this opportunity as a modern marketer? No, not at all.
As a modern marketer myself, I embrace this incredible opportunity to transform employees into trusted brand advocates. Trust me; it’s a new marketing channel to improve your customer experience that leads to a meaningful word of mouth recommendations online. Here are 4 steps to launch a successful employee advocacy program within your organization:
Identify a team and champion
First and foremost, it’s highly important to build a well-resourced team to run the employee advocacy program in the long run. As a part of your pilot team, identify your engaged employees across the different lines of business within your organization.
- Human Resources
- Internal and Corporate Communication
Engaged employees should exhibit traits such as:
- willingness to learn and adopt new technologies
- passionate about sharing best practices across the organization
- a strong belief in company’s long-term business goals
It’s relatively a new-gen concept in marketing. You need a champion (business leader) on a rotational basis to motivate, energize and roll-out this program successfully.
Train and Educate
Most of your employees are digital and social-savvy today. They’re already active in different social media channels and aware of recent industry trends as a consumer. However, the onus lies with the business leaders and team to train and educate potential employee brand advocates in adopting new tools across the organization. It can be face-face sessions, virtual events, boot camps with hands-on tool navigation and train the trainer programs.
Devise employee advocacy guidelines and inform your potential brand advocates regarding do’s and don’ts of sharing company’s approved branded content online. Potential brand advocates should be well-aware of ‘viral’ nature of social media programs that would affect the company’s brand online.
Establish and Measure KPIs
Before rolling out your employee advocacy programs, it requires a careful planning in establishing and measuring your potential ROIs. As you’re aware, any marketing programs should have a measurable KPIs because it’s related to investments in marketing technologies to build your social brand online. Trust me; there is no one-size fits all approach here.
Go ahead and establish your measurable KPIs that include: number of employees enrolled, increase in brand’s social followers, reach, influence, engagement, web visits and the number of posts, clicks, comments, and marketing leads. Employee advocacy tools provide analytics feature to measure the success of your program. Never stop learning and keep changing the metrics and KPIs based on your initial roll-outs to measure the success of your employee advocacy programs in the long –run.
Reward and Recognize
Now, you are ready to roll-out your employee advocacy program. Be aware of what motivates your potential employee brand advocates to participate and engage in building your social brand reach online. It’s extremely important to reward and recognize your potential brand advocates and encourage them to keep adopting this tool to amplify your brand messages. Gone are the days that reflect an old adage –“You build it, they will come.” The employee advocacy champions should find ways to motivate employees to adopt and engage.
Employee advocacy tools such as Smarp have built-in gamification engine to drive its adoption in today’s marketplace. The tool allows you to use a point system to distribute both monetary and non-monetary rewards for sustaining this new –gen marketing concept in the long –run. As you aware, ‘sky is the limit’ to recognize and reward your advocates during team and town-hall meetings, internal newsletter, emails, give discount coupons, free company’s merchandise, VIP luncheon, award them with certificates and so on. Go ahead and nurture your potential brand advocates in all possible ways to appreciate their whole-hearted efforts.
The Bottom Line
Launching an employee advocacy program requires a careful planning in the context of time, resources, and people. According to Weber Shandwick study, 50% post messages, pictures or videos in social media about their employers. No doubt, your employees are your most untapped marketing assets. Tap and nurture them to build your social brand reach online.