Marketing, in particular, influencer marketing is essentially about using assets to increase the reach of your brand and its product. What’s often overlooked is that your employees can also be brand advocates! In fact, an employee shouting out about the ethos of a company is often more powerful than an influencer sharing a post about your product.
In the digital world, it is becoming increasingly rare for a company to dominate a market. Start-ups are popping up everywhere. By cutting the overheads of starting a business, many more budding entrepreneurs are taking the leap and launching new products.
So what does this mean for your brand?
It means that there are more and more options out there for the consumer. Which means they get to decide what factors will influence their buying decision.
“61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference.” –Huffington Post
Millennials are increasingly choosing products or services that they believe have the same values that they do. Whether that be a company managing its environmental impact or how women are treated in the workplace. This trend is not limited to the younger generations. Marketing your brand’s social responsibility and ethics is becoming increasingly important for companies looking to set themselves apart from their competition. A CSR statement and press releases about charitable endeavors are no longer enough. Consumers crave a more authentic experience.
This is where ‘Employee Advocacy’ comes in.
Your employees (whether or not they know it) create this authenticity, every time they post about their own experiences and day-to-day on social media or their personal blogs. In fact, chances are you have employees who are already working as brand ambassadors for your business.
Sometimes, employees posting can backfire. This is why it’s so important to look after your teams.
Take Uber for example, who has always been portrayed as a disruptor or bad boy of the taxi industry. Despite some bad press in the past, they had not lost users or drivers and the company has consistently been valued at over $60 million. Recently, Uber’s reputation has been hit several times by employees leaking damaging information. On top of this, investors began to openly criticize the company. All this led to unhappy riders #deletingUber.
The real turning point for Uber came with the release of a statement by a former employee who detailed the repeated examples of sexual harassment that she and many other female employees were victims of. These employees informed Uber’s senior management and HR department to no avail. In fact, the victims themselves were blamed.
Now, this is an example of how failure to look after your employees can have a negative impact on your brand, and ultimately cause you to lose customers.
‘Employee advocacy’ can be especially vital for start-ups with little or no marketing expertise or budget.
Many companies have implemented ‘Employee Advocacy’ programs that both track employee’s social activities in regards to the company and also rewards the employee. Essentially, these programs take the form of a loyalty or rewards scheme.
Starbucks is an example company that has put employees at the core of their brand advocacy program. Simple yet effective tactics like referring to employees as “partners” help create a sense of belongingness and accountability amongst their employees. To manage social media, the company has created a comprehensive social media guidelines, as well as building dedicated social media accounts for their partners, which now boast around 44 thousand followers on Twitter and over 340 thousand likes on Facebook.
AT&T’s employee advocacy program, also known as “Social Circle” has one goal: to identify socially-active employees and encourage them to use their platforms to help promote the company. Unlike Starbucks, they did not implement strict rules, creating a level of authenticity as employees to used their personal voices.
Beyond just authentically promoting your company’s ethical stance, ‘Employee Advocacy’ will also help you when you are looking hire.
These days, if you are about to go for a job interview or considering an offer, you Google the company for information about how they treat their employees, their market reputation and if their customers rate them highly. This is why portals like Glassdoor were created.
Are you more likely to choose to work for a company with positive employee reviews? Yes!
‘Employee advocacy’ is not a simple as setting up some social channels or asking employees to share your latest post. It’s about encouraging a sense of community.
For example, The Millennium Alliance recently just turned 3 (last week in fact). It owes it’s success to the passion of its employees. To thank them, senior staff organized a week’s worth of activities, culminating in a day out of the office at Chelsea Piers.
Monday – All Millennium employees dressed up in white and blue.
Tuesday – Can’t have a birthday without a birthday lunch! Taco Tuesday hit the New York office. We also interviewed Russ Klein, CEO, American Marketing Association about the importance of positivity in the workplace.
Wednesday – Wacky hair day! Wear wigs and hats to work.
Thursday – Remember the amazing fashion of the 90’s? The Millennium Alliance paid homage to the best characters of the 90’s with some interesting outfits. We also filmed the first ever episode of Millennium Live.
Friday – The Millennium Alliance Mini-Olympics when both offices competed for bragging rights.
Here is just a selection of some of the highlights from the week and a sneak peek at #millenniumlife.