Employee Advocates: the Future of Stakeholder Engagement and Influence
Over the past decade, leading corporations of all sizes and types have adapted their communications strategies to prioritize new social channels, thereby reaping the benefits of direct, unfiltered—and in some cases, hyper-segmented—engagement with key stakeholders and target audiences. Successful execution of such strategies can drive brand awareness, shape corporate reputation, and positively influence purchasing decisions.
But over the same period, an explosion of social content from organizations and brands has made it increasingly tough to break through the noise—unless you pay to “boost” your social posts. And even when a company pays for impressions and clicks, the latest research show that very few social users trust content that they see from brands and corporations.
Given this context, a more effective route to communicating a company’s vision and purpose is to develop a base of supporters who will carry those messages on behalf of the company. And when evaluating the landscape of potential advocates, current employees know the company the best and thus have the highest credibility.
When integrated with a company’s existing digital storytelling platforms and tools, the design and operation of an effective employee advocacy program can be as simple as:
- a web-based management system to publish and curate content for employees to share;
- a mobile-responsive user interface to help employees find and amplify to their networks;
- custom leaderboards to let individuals and teams measure and track performance as well as earn badges and rewards for achieving a broad range of engagement goals; and
- an integrated analytics system to guide future editorial and curatorial decision-making.
Beyond amplifying a company’s content via authentic word of mouth, an effective employee advocacy program can also produce immediate and long-term returns in other dimensions of business performance. In fact, employees who advocate on behalf of their company are more likely to:
- generate leads or bring in new customers (Marketing & Sales);
- be promoted and less likely leave (Performance); and
- recommend careers at their company (Recruiting).
It’s a win-win-win for communicators looking to contribute increased, measurable impact on their business.
Through the next decade, the proliferation of social content from corporations and brands will continue, making it harder for companies to ensure that their voices are heard and trusted. The future of effective and authentic stakeholder engagement and influence lies in employee advocates.