By Anthony Cotter.

How to build an employee advocacy program?

Everyone strives to build the perfect company. You want your employees to shout from the rooftops about the great things happening in your organization. What compels them to share company news on social media… to talk about work over dinner with friends… how do you start a company movement?

Be the crazy guy on a hill! – Wait, what?

Have you ever seen the famous video about the ‘lone nut’ at a music festival, dancing like no one is watching him? (if not you should watch it). He believes in himself, one crazy dance move after another. He garners attention. He’s joined by a first follower… and another, and another…creating a movement of people. 

“It takes guts to be a First Follower! You stand out and brave ridicule yourself. Being a First Follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership.” – Derek Sivers

BUT what ignites these actions to follow, and how to do it in your business? Define a larger cause, rally people around the goals and values of your organization. People want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves AND if they feel like they’re part of an exclusive group of employees that are making a real difference in the world then they’ll want to publicly share the company movement. We call this employee advocacy. Let’s take a deeper look.

What does employee advocacy mean?

‘Employee Social Advocacy’ is the big flowery term we put on employee buy-in….this movement we speak of. In its simplest definition, employee advocacy is the promotion and/or recommendation of your company’s products and services by your employees. Advocacy is most effective when it’s done voluntarily and ‘in the moment’. It also has to be very easy and quick to do. This is when it’s at its most powerful – when done the right way.

NEVER FORCE IT.

Why employee advocacy is important

Let me explain further. There is nothing more powerful and valuable to a business than the strong advocacy of its people. Happy and fulfilled employees who are aligned with their organization’s objectives. These lovely people will attract like-minded individuals to your organization, tend not to leave, and provide exceptional customer experiences. 

At Workvivo, we believe that engagement starts with everyone having a voice, where communication from everybody shapes the culture. With the help of our employee communication platform, we enable you to shine a light on all the positive things happening in the organization, bring goals and values alive, generate a culture of recognition and build a sense of community and belonging. Isn’t that what all brands want to do? You’re a step closer to achieving this if you’re reading this far.

Give your employees the voice to make change. Successful companies are those that arm their own people with meaningful ways to make a difference.

Employee advocacy best practices

Mobile first

Mobile phone usage has jumped by 221% over the last five years and has overtaken desktop as the device to consume information, especially social media. Your Employee Application should be easy to use, have a sleek UI coupled with a seamless transition from desktop to mobile. 

Figure out what matters

Whether it’s health, inclusion, sustainability, diversity, or charitable causes, your employees care strongly about social issues. Implementing social advocacy policies that tie into these also offers a key opportunity to build authenticity in your brand. 

Tapping into issues that your employees care about can be a huge motivating factor and increase emotional investment in the success of your company – and you could learn a thing or two in the process! Remember, people don’t tend to seek reward for advocacy, they simply seek recognition. 

Ok, but how can I find out what matters? – Our company is huge!

One of the quickest ways to gather targeted feedback from employees, especially on issues that are important to them are ‘Employee Pulse Surveys’. 

Internal communication platforms have pulse survey capabilities to foster true engagement. You can quickly discover the social issues your employees want to support and create an internal social dialogue around those issues, getting your brand behind policies that matter.

My colleagues in the Customer Experience team can help guide you in what to ask your employees – Grab your free collection of ready-made pulse survey questions below!

Workvivo comes with an inbuilt Employee Social Advocacy feature. Allowing you to amplify internal content where relevant by enabling employees to share to their social channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Creating brand champions 

Good news, employees want to be brand champions and part of your movement – Hurrah!

Your workplace culture and vision are vital in getting people on board to become social advocates. Focus on peer to peer engagement, communication, company goals, and recognition. These become real drivers in creating that brand champion. 

Given the internal communication challenges companies face – such as flexible work hours and multi-site global operations – having an engaging internal platform that all employees can buy into has never been more important.

Tell each other you’ve done a ‘Great job’! 

Everyone loves to be told they are doing well. Employers need to understand the positive impact a simple act of recognition, like a pat on the back for a job well done can have. 

It’s never been more important to recognize the value of the workforce, and to do so in a public forum for all your peers to see. It creates a culture of recognition, a team-building force that we are all in this together.

The external advocate

These advocates are the ones who feel so strongly about your organization that they want to share it with the world. They become an invaluable source by championing your brand externally. Be confident, you hired them, they are now part of your first follower group, so give them your support by ensuring they can share their advocacy story not only on internal platforms, but also externally through their own social media channels. 

This skyrockets company culture, a positive reputation and aids the HR Department by doing the heavy lifting on showcasing what it’s like to work in your company.

How do I start an employee advocacy program?

Our friend Scott McInnes from Inspiring Change reminded me of the great Richard Branson wisdom – “If you put your people first, they’ll look after your customers.” 

Workvivo’s employee communication platform builds a sense of community and belonging in an organization and is a powerful tool used to start a ‘movement’ with the potential brand builders of the company. 

A final note goes to the lovely illustration that resides at the top of this page. We commissioned Irish artist – Jason O’Gorman to create a unique depiction of the ‘lone shirtless nut’ scene from that famous Derek Sivers video. We sent this piece of art as a gift to one of our ‘first followers’, Aaron Mansworth – Managing Director of Trigon Hotel Group. It’s great to know that you can build advocates both inside and outside of your organization. 

Go start your movement today, followers await!