Employee advocacy: from employees to brand ambassadors

At the height of the pandemic, the activation of strict containment measures and limited mobility changed the way employee relations were managed. Management and internal communication manuals were blown up. In such a situation, damage containment plans had to be made, drastic measures had to be taken and, at the same time, morale had to be kept high. The implementation of employee advocacy measures was under question: how to reconcile employee involvement with corporate messages when the organisation was forced to lay off, lay off employees or force its team to telework?

What is employee advocacy and why has it been a mantra in many companies over the last decade?

Let’s go by parts. What is employee advocacy and why has it been a mantra in many companies over the last decade? This Anglo-Saxon term literally means employee recommendation. The testimony of a person who knows the company from inside is much more reliable than any other, in the eyes of the brand’s consumers. The power of employee recommendation is such that it has become an indispensable social media marketing strategy. However, it should not be seen as an action that obliges the employee to share the content that the company wants on their personal social media profiles. On the contrary. Try to take care of them, keep them informed of current affairs, provide them with attractive content and let them be the ones who want to share that content voluntarily, more out of pride of belonging than any other kind of incentive or pressure.

What is the objetive?

The objective of employee advocacy is, therefore, to help make the brand visible and enhance the values it wants to convey. This visibility can involve employees acting as ambassadors sharing information about products, campaigns or, in general, about the company’s culture on social networks. In turn, this strategy can enhance brand reputation and facilitate the recruitment of new talent. These actions can be carried out through different channels, but the most common is through social media. This is what has made it possible to refer to employees as the company’s new influencers.

“We could call employees the new influencers of the company”.

But in a context of pandemics, instability and mistrust, the influence of employees is more critical than ever. The pride of belonging, which motivates disinterested collaboration with the corporate communication strategy through identification with its values and projects, can turn into detachment if the company does not behave empathetically.

Users trust people more than brands

Profiles of individuals generate more trust in the content they share than profiles belonging to brands. According to MSL Group, branded content gains 561% effectiveness when shared via employee social profiles versus the effectiveness of corporate profiles.. Employees have more credibility and get more interaction: up to double engagement, while your posts are shared up to 24 times more.

“The content of a brand earns 561% if it is shared through the social profiles of its employees”

A good employee advocacy, therefore, can be translated into a good employee branding, that is, a good employer brand. This term refers to the image of a company from the point of view of current employees and potential candidates. It is used to describe the internal reputation of the company and its value proposition towards those.

What do brand ambassadors do?

Companies are increasingly focusing on achieving brand ambassadors, something in expansion before the emergence of the coronavirus and in a latent state after it.. Organisations are shifting their focus to that of a digital and connected employee model, something that is among the main trends of recent years. Employee advocacy is, therefore, an evolution that turns the company’s workers into its best prescribers, especially to attract talent and retain it. Antevenio describes the brand ambassador employee as the one who:

  • generates positive exposure and awareness because they feel comfortable with the brand and it shows
  • recommends the consumption of a product or service produced by the company to people in the environment
  • knows the objectives of the company and represents them both internally and externally
  • knows the company’s activity and can advise from full knowledge.

The complexity of motivating them today

The study ‘What employees expect in 2021‘ by IBM (Institute for Business Value) reveals the new demands of employees after the metamorphosis of conventional work due to the pandemic. Office work has, in most cases, become telecommuting. Many experts say that we are witnessing the transition to the hybrid model of work.

Participants said their priorities at work in the coming months would be work-life balance (51%) and career advancement opportunities (43%), followed by compensation and benefits (41%), and company ethics and values (41%). More than a third of respondents also highlighted continuous learning opportunities (36%) and job stability (34%) as key factors. The so-called “emotional wage” has led to the search for stability and the search for new challenges after a year of tension, stress and uncertainty.

Undoubtedly, 2020 and 2021 are going to be years in which we will all question many things and place value on aspects that were not so important a long time ago. In this scenario, employee advocacy strategies should not be oriented so much towards incentivising people’s role as disseminators, but rather towards being concerned and interested in them. It is not what the employee can do for the company, but what the company can do for the employee. Perhaps it is time for brands to become ambassadors for their employees.

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