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Employee advocacy: turn your employees into brand ambassadors

 

Turn your employees into brand ambassadors. With the digital transition and the democratization of teleworking, social media presence is essential to increase your visibility and generate leads.

 

But SMEs as well as large groups are confronted with the growing mistrust of prospects and consumers towards the institutional discourse of companies. The solution: encourage your employees to talk about you on the networks throughemployee advocacy. What is this communication strategy and what are its assets? How to set up an employee ambassador program? We'll explain it all to you.

 

What is employee advocacy?

 

The concept of employee ambassadors

Employee advocacy consists of promoting your company through your employees, especially on social networks: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This English-speaking term can be translated into French by the notion ofemployee ambassador.

Indeed, what better spokesperson for your brand than an employee who knows your business and your values? Your employees are probably already talking informally about their work to colleagues, family, friends... in real life and maybe even on social networks, which are used daily (and assiduously) by many of us. A strong corporate culture encourages this kind of corporate behaviour.

 

Employee advocacy programs

The concept of employee ambassador goes further, with the introduction of a real digital marketing and communication strategy. Employees are trained and encouraged to participate in the company's e-reputation by sharing content on their own company accounts. It is possible to facilitate or evenautomate the publication process through employee advocacy programs such as Easy Advocacy.

The employee advocacy approach is part of a B2B or B2C context for :

  • build and defend your brand image on social media ;
  • Promote your employer brand to future candidates ;
  • communicate about your products or services and develop social selling.

 

What are the advantages of the employee advocacy strategy?

 

Give credibility to messages disseminated on social networks

According to the Trust Barometer Edelman 2016, the word of an employee is considered more reliable than that of an executive, especially if it is a member of the entourage. For example, 82% of people consider content shared by a family member to be credible, compared with only 15% for brand publications.

Based on a peer-to-peer mode of expression, employee advocacy is therefore perceived as more convincing than institutional communication. Authentic and embodied, the speech conveyed by employee ambassadors inspires more confidence in your clients or prospects than that delivered directly by the company.

 

Broaden your audience and generate more leads

The circle of influence of employees has expanded considerably with therise of social media. Facebook friends, Linkedin relationships and followers on Twitter or Instagram now number in the hundreds. The number of contacts of all your employees is thus often higher than the number of your official social accounts. In addition, Facebook's algorithm favours posts from profiles rather than company pages.

Employee advocacy thereforeincreases the reach of your publications. Content shared by employees reaches on average 6 times more people than if it is published solely on the brand account. Thus, setting up an employee ambassador program :

  • improves visibility on social networks for 79% of companies
  • develops notoriety for 65% of them.

In addition, employee advocacy makes your communication more impactful. According to a study by Linkedin in 2016, only 3% of employees share company publications, but they generate 30% of the clicks, likes, comments or shares. Thus, content posted by an employee multiplies the engagement and lead conversion rate: it engages 8 times more and converts 7 times more than a branded publication.

 

Developing its employer brand and the commitment of its employees

The companies favoured by young graduates are often also those that perform best on social networks. The fact that your employees speak on your behalf sends a positive signal to potential candidates, the image of a great place to work. Employee advocacy is therefore an effective lever to develop your employer brand and attract new talent while reducing your recruitment costs.

Internally, the involvement and appreciation of employee ambassadors reinforces motivation and a sense of belonging, which contributes to improving the social climate within the company. Several studies have shown that the use of social media in the office has a positive impact on employee productivity and loyalty. Breaks on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter help to clear the mind and maintain contact with colleagues, especially when teleworking.

 

How do I set up an Employee Ambassador Program?

 

Define your employee advocacy strategy

Like any digital communication project, employee advocacy requires careful preparation beforehand. Start by thinking about the purpose of your employee ambassador campaign. Would you like to :

  • develop your community on social networks?
  • Acquire traffic to your website from your employees' publications?
  • make your employer brand more attractive to future talent?
  • generate and convert leads through social selling?

Consider formulating S.M.A.R.T. objectives : Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. For example, don't say: "We want to increase our audience on social networks", but rather: "We want to triple the number of people who follow us on Linkedin within 12 months".

Then, take stock of your current communication strategy in order to identify the best practices, the tools already in place and those to be developed to achieve your ambitions.

 

Mobilizing and supporting its employee ambassadors

Your employees are at the forefront of the implementation of your employee advocacy programme. It's a win-win strategy where everyone has a stake in the outcome. So you need to :

  • communicate with your teams and explain the objectives of the system;
  • train volunteer employees in the use of social networks and the functioning of the company (activity, positioning, values);
  • take into consideration their opinion and any comments they may have ;
  • highlight their expertise through the sharing of high value-added content;
  • tovalue their involvement, for example by setting up a reward system.

 

Analyze and share the impact of its employee advocacy campaign

Once your program is up and running, measure its impact by trackingkey performance indicators (K PIs) such as :

  • Organic reach: number of people who have seen the content shared by your employee ambassadors;
  • Engagement: interactions with publications ("I like" mentions, clicks on links, comments, sharing, retweets);
  • traffic to your website;
  • the conversion and bounce rate of promoted pages ;
  • the number of leads generated, etc.

It is essential to share the results obtained with your teams in order to strengthen their involvement and motivation. Make the necessary adjustments and don't forget toevaluate the effectiveness of the system internally, for example by conducting a satisfaction survey among the employees concerned.

 

About the author

Philippe Rigault

Philippe Rigault is the founding President of the agency Autour de l'Image. He assists clients in the development and animation of their communication strategy, combining advice, creativity, mentoring and common sense. Autour de l'Image is a global communication agency that simplifies the life of entrepreneurs. It brings together all the communication and marketing skills needed to develop sales and brand awareness.

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