9 Marketing Experts Define Employee Advocacy in One Sentence

May 29, 2018

Coworkers Talking Happily

Like many terms and phrases, the definition of employee advocacy varies based on the source.

In the past, we have offered our own extremely simple interpretation: “the promotion of your company by the people who work for it.” And in a nutshell, that’s what employee advocacy is all about. But there are many different layers and components to this critical business frontier.

So, in order to gain added perspective, we reached out to a few sales and marketing experts we admire and asked for their views on employee advocacy – not just what it is, but why they believe it’s an initiative that every marketer and business leader should have on their radars.

Here’s what they had to say.

Why Employee Advocacy Matters, According to the Experts

“In today’s hyper-connected world, brands simply must embrace new ways of engaging with customers online, and your employees can help if you’ll let them.”

Ted Rubin

CMO, Photofy, Inc

Many marketers have heard me talk about employee advocacy before and how important it is to Empower your Employees (who will then Power your Brand) and to encourage them to “be social” in today’s relationship age. The fact that relationships are the new currency is true whether you are looking for a job, planning an event or selling a product/service.

Do your employees know and love your company, its products and services? They could be great brand ambassadors if they had the right tools and felt they were not only being supported by the brand to advocate, but to build their own personal brands with content valuable to them. Most employees have their own personal social media accounts and are connected to hundreds and thousands of people. What if they could use their own social media presence to help promote the company brand? Think of the reach you could achieve if your employees were empowered to spread the word to all those they influence and engage with regularly.

In today’s hyper-connected world, brands simply must embrace new ways of engaging with customers online, and your employees can help if you’ll let them. If you’re not looking for ways to involve your employees, then you are missing a huge opportunity to generate more #RonR (Return on Relationship).

“It's about enabling them to extend their credibility through the power of social media, add value to their networks and build their professional brands as trusted advisors in their area of expertise.”

Sarah Goodall

Founder, Tribal Impact

Employee advocacy is about enabling your employees to become the trusted, authentic voice of your brand. It's about enabling them to extend their credibility through the power of social media, add value to their networks, and build their professional brands as trusted advisors in their area of expertise. The ultimate impact for both employee and brand is extended reach and higher engagement, but more importantly - for brands - increased conversions, because trusted networks create more inbound enquiries for business.

“Employee advocacy is the heartbeat of any B2B brand presence.”

Lisa Marcyes

Senior Social Media Marketing Manager, Marketo

Employee advocacy is the heartbeat of any B2B brand presence. The more excited and vocal your workforce becomes, the better they are able to share and expand on what makes your brand unique. Who better to educate prospects and customers than those who eat, sleep, and breathe your product?

“Employee advocacy is about empowering, educating, motivating and inspiring employees to build trust.”

Brian Fanzo

Founder & CEO, iSocialFanz LLC

Every business today is in the business of trust. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how long you've been in business today – nobody trusts a logo or a brand just because they've been around for a long time. Often, businesses assume that their marketing team will be the enablers of trust, but just like the adage that everyone in a company sells, I believe everyone in a company is responsible for building, scaling, and establishing trust both internally and externally.

Employee advocacy is about empowering, educating, motivating and inspiring employees to build trust. This trust-building can come in many different forms: content-sharing, content curation, storytelling, public speaking, interviews, and relationship-building.

Employee advocacy is much more than having a tool that shares content out of employees’ accounts on social; it requires a culture built on trust and transparency that trains employees on the value of creating trust, while also celebrating and rewarding those that do so. People buy from people they like, and in 2018 and beyond, people also buy from those they can relate to. Employee advocacy makes every brand and business relatable, as relatability is only possible when a company embraces employee advocacy to empower their greatest asset: their employees.

“Employee advocacy is one of the biggest untapped areas for business development in the current climate.”

Tim Hughes

Co-Founder & CEO, Digital Leadership Associates

Employee advocacy is one of the biggest untapped areas for business development in the current climate. If companies grasp the opportunity to not fill the channel with corporate messages, and empower the employees to share user generated content (UGC), then the sky is the limit.

“As brands face content saturation in the battle for consumer attention, employee advocacy can create a fresh source of authentic content.”

Scott Lum

Content Marketing & Social Media Marketer, Microsoft

As brands face content saturation in the battle for consumer attention, employee advocacy can create a fresh source of authentic content. Employees can be your most passionate advocates. Since they spend most of their days immersed in your product or service, they have a vested interest in seeing your company succeed, and many have developed a unique expertise and insight that your customers may find interesting.

Brands must recognize the hierarchy of employee advocacy:

  • A great majority of employees will not share any content on behalf of their employer.
  • Some may share their work and excitement about their company with their close circle of friends.
  • A few curators may share company news and content on their social media.
  • A few may become advocates by commenting and providing insights on company news they share on a regular basis.
  • A small handful will become evangelists by creating new content, showcasing their expertise and becoming thought leaders.

Marketers must develop a written employee advocacy strategy which includes internal communication plans, ideas for identifying employee advocates and accelerating them up the hierarchy, a content management process, plans for integrating advocates into the content marketing and PR programs, and social media and content creation governance.

“The most credible employee advocacy comes from the freely-shared communications provided by the workforce.”

Rob Peters

Founder & Senior Business Development Manager, Standard of Trust

[Employee advocacy is] an employee that communicates and/or actively promotes their organization most often as part of their social media activity. A company may ask their employees to promote the organizations as part of their job description. However, the most credible employee advocacy comes from the freely-shared communications provided by the workforce.

“It is really companies finding a perfect medium to train and encourage their employees to be more social and providing them with the audience-centric content and tools.”

Neal Schaffer

Founder, PDCA Social

I teach my clients that employee advocacy first and foremost means that your employees – as many as possible – are present on LinkedIn. This is especially important for smaller SMEs, where size and social proof/credibility can be generated from having as large a presence on LinkedIn as possible. From there, it is really companies finding a perfect medium to train and encourage their employees to be more social and providing them with the audience-centric content and tools, like LinkedIn Elevate, to allow them to easily do so.

“True employee advocacy starts with helping employees identify and own their eminence on social channels, and off the back of that, they can be ambassadors for the brand.”

Andrea Edwards

Founder and CEO, The Digital Conversationalist

Employee advocacy is a massive opportunity for business, but too many companies are getting it wrong. They are trying to get employees to be mouthpieces for the brand, and professionals tell me this approach has no integrity (plus, it lacks respect for their personal standing). [Employees] would rather do nothing than be a megaphone. True employee advocacy starts with helping employees identify and own their eminence on social channels, and off the back of that, be ambassadors for the brand. Collectively, employees are beyond powerful, but it must start with them first.

Employee Advocacy Tips and Pointers

These were great insights, and we appreciate all those who contributed. To summarize some of the key takeaways:

  1. Your employees are connected to hundreds, if not thousands, of different people in various industries, locations, and verticals. Employee advocacy helps your brand amplify its reach drastically by tapping into the network effect.
  2. Socially active employees can convey the narratives and information that matter to your business in a more authentic and relatable way than anyone else.
  3. Employee advocacy also helps individuals within your company build their own personal brands by demonstrating expertise and growing their networks.
  4. Integrating a healthy mix of non-promotional, third-party content is essential to running a program that sustains and delivers value to all involved.
  5. Employee advocacy only works if participants are intrinsically motivated to engage and share on their own, rather than feeling obliged.

Learn more about employee advocacy and why it’s such a critical business priority by downloading The Network Effect of Employee Advocacy: Amplify Your Brand and Content Reach.

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