Unlocking Employee Advocacy | Social Media | Digital & Social Media

CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee
connections that deepen engagement, build trust
and accelerate business performance

November 2016

UNLOCKING EMPLOYEE ADVOCACY
Six ways to harness the power of influencer voices

By Julia Leitman, Assistant Account Executive, Employee Engagement
We live in a world where people check their smartphones an average of 150 times per day – but despite being
constantly connected, only 13 percent of employees visit their company’s intranet, and 30 percent completely
ignore their employer’s emails.
This poses a challenge for communicators looking to bolster their company’s reputation, as employees are the
most trusted source of information about a company – even more so than the CEO on key business topics like
engagement, integrity and operations, according to our 2016 Trust Barometer data. It’s clear that the traditional
ways of reaching employees and leveraging their voices must shift significantly and rapidly.
To keep pace, many companies are reinventing their internal communications strategies to reach employees
where they are – on the go, using their mobile devices. As a result, they’re experiencing increased employee
engagement, productivity and retention.
By equipping your employees to advocate externally on behalf of the company, you’re also tapping into one of
your most valuable marketing assets. For this reason, interest in employee advocacy has grown nearly 200
percent over the last few years. Top brands are already leveraging the power of employee influencers, curating
content that’s easy for employees to quickly access and share with their peers and personal social networks.
When one of our major food and beverage clients put this to the test, they not only experienced a 26 percent
increase in advocacy, but nine out of 10 employees involved were more confident talking about the company
on social media following the pilot program.
If you’re considering an advocacy program, these six best practices will help get your program off the ground
and into the hands of employees:

1. Take a phased, targeted approach to
implementation.
Start with a small group of the most influential
employees. Equip them with powerful content and
empower them to share it in their own voices. Find
employees who are natural storytellers, love what they
do, aren’t afraid to say it and are already active on
social media.

2. Advocacy = Authenticity
Advocacy cannot be forced or bought – it must be
authentic, because that’s what makes it credible. You
can provide employees with the platform and tools

necessary to unleash influencer voices while still
allowing these voices to come from employees
themselves.
Advocacy programs are most successful when
participation is optional and driven by a genuine desire
to engage. We partnered with a large financial
corporation to deploy advocacy as an easy way to
enable employees to talk about their company culture
via social media while still complying with federal rules.
After gathering input from legal, compliance and HR
on how the platform would be used, we placed a
strong emphasis on social media training, stressing that
staff share with their own voice.

© 2015 Edelman

3. Set them up for success.
True to human nature, employees love to share what
makes them proud and what they’re passionate
about – because they want to, not because their
employer has asked them to do so. But it’s smart to
provide some basic, non-prescriptive guidelines and
training so they feel confident about their role in
advocacy and can channel their passion in a
productive way. By setting up employees for success,
you’re positioning the company for success as well.

4. Take an employee-centric approach.
Many companies think about how their brand
benefits from employee storytelling; instead, try
focusing the conversation around how employees
can benefit by engaging with and advocating for
your brand. For some, it allows them to build their
own networks and personal brands. For others, it’s a
channel to support a greater cause they’re
passionate about, or simply to show pride for the
work they do. Whatever the case may be, when it
comes to employee advocacy, put the employees
first.

5. Make it easy to engage.
If sharing content requires ten clicks and a password,
forget it. Employees are busy enough with their day
jobs, so advocacy should require little time or effort,
fit into their existing routines and have a clear,
effortless call to action. A mobile app like Dynamic
Signal can facilitate one-click sharing. Or consider
developing a microsite or “hub” on your company
intranet with embedded sharing capabilities. We
helped a multinational automotive manufacturing
company build and launch a microsite dedicated to
promoting Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives
and celebrating colleagues’ charitable giving efforts,
which led to a record-breaking year for charitable
contributions and an all-time high in volunteer
activities among employees.

Some companies are even quantifying success by
looking at the cost of ad buys saved by empowering
their employees as brand advocates. IBM, for
instance, launched a wildly successful platform using
Dynamic Signal that quantifiably “outperformed
traditional marketing and paid media tactics,
proving digitally engaged experts could achieve a
33 percent conversion rate to a call to action.”
Demonstrating the business impact of your efforts will
help you build a case for sustained investment.

The bottom line
Innovations in digital and social media are making it
easier to engage with employees in creative ways –
and advocacy is the perfect example. By cultivating
an employee-centric approach, you will have a
framework that not only builds a community of
efficient and engaged teams but also informs,
involves and inspires employees as brand advocates.

About Us
Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations
accelerate business performance, delivered by
highly engaged and trusted employees. We do this
by making meaningful, trust-building connections —
connecting employees with the company, with each
other and with the outside world.
Our global network of employee engagement
specialists develop engagement strategy; deploy the
tools and processes to deliver it; create the
multimedia channels and content that support it;
and design the insight mechanisms to measure it.
For more information, visit us at ee.edelman.com,
follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE or email us at
employee.engagement@edelman.com.

6. Track and measure it!
Tracking and measuring engagement enables you to
understand what content matters most to employees
and identify which employees are the most influential
and engaged. Program administrators should have
access to data and analytics that look at delivery,
adoption, reach, sharing and engagement.

© 2016 Edelman. For more information, contact us at employee.engagement@edelman.com.

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