Updated November 2020

According to a 2016 Gartner report, 36% of marketing leaders have deployed internal brand advocacy or employee ambassador programs, and another 27% plan to implement one this year. The Gartner team suggests that one of the key drivers of this increased activity is related to the dip in organic social post reach and to the increased reach of social messages.

And a report from Altimeter found that employers encouraged brand advocacy from their employees because the activity:

  • Engaged employees more deeply in their work and the organization's mission (43%)
  • Gave customers a better experience with the brand (43%)

4 factors that drive employee brand advocacy

Of course, simply requiring employees to promote the company isn't going to fly for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the lack of authenticity. Altimeter analysts found that four factors motivate employees to advocate for their employers on social :

  1. Believe in the mission and want to promote what the organization does (57%)
  2. Believe in the product/services and want to share their experience creating/delivering them (46%)
  3. Want to recruit new employees (42%)
  4. Want friends to understand them better (42%)

If you're engaged in a social listening effort, you already know which of your employees (or volunteers and board members) are promoting your brand. Acknowledge their efforts so they're motivated to continue. If you don't know which insiders are advocating for your brand, start looking!

Adding employee voices to your product/service and influencer marketing initiatives reinforces messaging and branding and introduces your organization to wider audience.

3 brand advocacy challenges to address

Consider whether you want to establish a formal employee brand advocacy program or simply offer guidelines and support for anyone who wants to post about the organization or products/services via social media. To encourage employee brand advocacy, make sure to address these three problems identified by Altimeter:

  1. Content issues (53%). It's vital to show employees what's OK to post and what isn't in terms of curating the right mix of third-party and branded content. To do: Populate a library of shareable brand and curated content and create a set of standards for user-curated or -generated content with examples of what works and what doesn't.
  2. Motivation (49%). Some employees will be ready to go, while others will be interested but afraid of making mistakes that will result in punishment or worse. To do: Survey your team to identify their fears and concerns, then develop policies and procedures that acknowledge and ease them.
  3. Low adoption (47%). There are many factors that keep employees from signing on. Many prefer to keep business and personal separate, so keep that in mind when engaging them about advocating. For others, they don't see how participating can help the company or their careers. And some team members will feel like they're being asked to do more than their job truly entails and they don't have the time (or compensation) for it. To dos: Create space for employees to opt-out without penalty or judgment. Explain how employee brand advocacy positively impacts the bottom line and can boost an employee's reputation. Outline the time commitment expected and revise job descriptions to include brand advocacy as an accountability.

Internal brand advocacy or employee ambassador programs can provide valuable social traction that supports marketing activity and extends reach. Consider increasing or formalizing your efforts in this area to improve employee engagement and your bottom line.

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