I have firmly believed in the efficacy of Employee advocacy. My mantra has also been to build with advocacy and follow with influence as employees are our biggest and most influential brand asset.
Over the past few years, while employee advocacy has been one of the buzzwords, some people may feel that it overtly hyped. However, I have personally witnessed its growing popularity in recent times. Various functions within an organization, including HR, have realized its potential, reach and influence, especially when it comes to delivering the desired outcomes. As you zoom in and observe it from my HR lens, employee advocacy becomes strategically essential to attract, retain and engage the right talent. Not many people are aware that 55% of job Seekers abandon job applications after reading a negative review or that new job applicants consider current employees to be the most trustworthy when assessing a potential employer (Study by The Future of Recruiting). Having said this, the pace of employee advocacy has accelerated as individuals are not only consuming information on the go but more importantly engaging voraciously with new social media platforms. This is, in turn, shrinking the size of our operating landscape while revolutionizing employee advocacy ecosystem and adding new possibilities.
Truth be told!
As one of the most “honest voice” for hiring and retention, it is up to us to effectively utilize employee advocacy to communicate values and build a reputation. Through a formulated and structured employee advocacy program, the engaged and active employees can assume the role of a “Brand Ambassador” and share narratives which provide a glimpse of the values, culture and vision of the organization. According to the Post Beyond survey, 31% of employees share information about company achievements. 30% share events organized by the company, 26% their achievements and 24% promotional messages. An organization can utilize the power of employee advocacy and navigate conversations which may result in an increase in the belief and trust amongst the potential audience. We must be mindful of the disengaged voices who are equally impactful for all the wrong reasons.
Employee advocacy goes a long way in building brand awareness and creating stickiness for the brand. Employee advocates, even with their incremental reach, can get you closer to your desired business outcomes. Let me share a recent example. As Covid spread and increased its influence, our circulation started decreasing due to fake news that newspapers were unsafe. However, believing in the power of employee advocacy, we launched our “I love My Paper” campaign. As a result, our employees took complete ownership and accountability of the campaign, interacted and engaged with Readers in their ecosystem and endorsed the fact that not only were the newspapers safe but were considered essential services and the most credible source of information as shared by the Government. Today we are back on track with 89% circulation in most of the cities, I rest my case.
Authentic, honest and organic conversations
Nothing beats original content, especially because the intent is evident considering that the advocates are not being paid to promote conversations. Think about the number of employee advocates, customers, or partners all organically talking about the company online and the impact that will have on your brand. This can result in a movement. Further, as individuals are using their authentic voices to talk about the organization and the brand creates empathy, personality, and trust as it not only lends authenticity but more importantly gives a “face and identity” instead of a faceless organization. Human emotions and sentiments can be experienced, and sometimes these lead to high-intensity conversations. Remember, peer-to-peer marketing is the leading driver behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions (study by Mckinsey). More importantly, millennials are 115% more influenced by word of mouth than traditional advertising (Study by Chatter Matters).
My only advice – employee advocacy is coming up as the most trusted way of marketing a brand as its humanized, and now it’s armed with technology. Use it to your advantage!