Guest post by Lisa Michaels

Brand awareness is critical to the success of any company. It helps sell new products, builds trust between the consumer and your company, drives repeat purchases, and increases your overall market share.

In a competitive market, some companies have a hard time building brand awareness. Some try leveraging technology and social media. Others have opted for guerilla marketing tactics hoping to grab the customers’ attention using surprise and unique, memorable interactions.

However, one marketing resource that every company has at its disposal, yet few utilize are their employees.

According to Sociabble, employees can have a powerful marketing impact. If an employee develops a lead through social marketing, said lead is seven times more likely to convert than other types of leads. When an employee shares a piece of content, that content will receive up to eight times more interactions and engagements than the content shared by the company.

Companies can leverage that power and get their employees to help with raising brand awareness by creating employee advocacy campaigns.

What are employee advocacy campaigns?

Employee advocacy is when a company’s employees promote it to the outside world.

Your employees act as your ambassadors, complementing your marketing and sales teams’ efforts.

An employee advocacy campaign or program is when the company actively encourages its employees to become advocates. The campaign is usually structured and has an end-goal in mind.

Types of employee advocates

There are several ways a company can turn its employees into advocates:

1. Social media

Almost 98 percent of your employees use at least one social media channel. If they were to use these channels to promote your brand, that would amplify your outreach beyond anything your marketing or sales departments could muster up on their own.

2. Employee recognition

When an employee excels at their job, their hard work should be acknowledged. This acknowledgment does not have to be monetary. You can publish a blog article or a piece in your local journal, thanking them for their extraordinary efforts and showing your appreciation. This will increase your employees’ engagement with their work and entice your employees to let the world know what a great employer you are.

3. Swag

Sometimes your employees can promote your company without saying a word. For instance, they might be drinking their coffee in a mug with your logo printed on it. Or, they might be wearing shirts that say, “I work at so-and-so, and I’m damn proud of it.”

If you give them practical, usable items that also promote your brand, your employees will become advocates happily.

Benefits of employee advocacy

There are other benefits of employee advocacy than raising brand awareness. Here are just a few:

  • Attracting new business and leads
  • Attracting new talent to your company
  • Lowering your marketing and sales costs
  • Building trust between your company and its customers.
  • Reducing employee turnover
  • Creating opportunities for collaborations and partnerships with other similar-minded companies.

Tips for managing an employee advocacy program

Any employee advocacy program needs to be strategic, sustainable, and organic. The following tips aim at achieving one or more of these criteria:

1. Start with goals and objectives

Before you start an employee advocacy program, consider your campaign’s goals and objectives. These will act as the basis for the KPIs that you set for yourself.

Some targets might include adding a certain number of followers to your company page on LinkedIn or creating a certain number of sales leads.

Having measurable targets is necessary as it will inform you how the campaign is progressing. These targets will also help get the necessary buy-in from the C-suite executives if everyone can see the program’s benefits at the outset.

2. Explain the benefits of advocacy

An employee advocacy program has to be voluntary to succeed. To get your employees on board, engage your employees and explain to them the benefits of becoming advocates.

According to a Gallup poll, almost 66 percent of US employees are not engaged in their work. Thirteen percent are “actively disengaged,” which means that they are miserable at work. This means that almost two out of every three workers are uninspired by the company they work for.

Engaged employees exhibit less turnover, put more effort into their work, and generate around four times the revenue generated by disengaged employees.

Before you start planning your employee advocacy campaign, you need to ensure that your employees are engaged in the first place. Conducting regular meetings with your team is a great way to keep them up to date on projects, but also to make them feel involved and invested in your company’s success.

You can also use gamification to spark some healthy competition among your team.

To get your employees to participate in your campaign, show them what’s in it for them.

First, you can show your employees how being advocates will help their careers. Explain that advocacy will raise their social profile, highlight them as experts in their fields, and give them something substantial to add to their CVs.

Being an advocate will improve your employees’ social media skills that could come in handy later on in their professional and personal lives.

You can also offer rewards and incentives for participating in the program. These rewards can vary; you can give out a prize for the best post, post with most interactions, or post that generated the most leads.

Whatever rewards and incentives you choose, your employees must be aware of them from the start. Otherwise, these rewards will lose their potency as motivators.

3. Provide good content

When your employees share content about you, this content will either be original, i.e., the employee wrote it or reshared, such as a post that was initially published on your company blog.

You want to encourage your employees to post original content, but you need to give them good content to reshare.

Content curators in your company know which content would perform well if shared by your employees. Your content curators likely come from your marketing team and know how to maintain a balance between promotional material and informational pieces.

To make your advocacy campaign sustainable, offer your employees good content that they want to share with the public. If you only provide boring and dull content, none of them will be enthused to share it.

Conclusion

Companies that engage their employees have a strong advantage over those that don’t. One way to leverage this engagement is by launching an employee advocacy campaign.

This will increase your brand awareness, bring you more business, and attract the best talent in the market.

To ensure that your campaign is successful, you need to be strategic, build for sustainability, and make the whole thing develop organically.

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels