How to Build Brand Advocacy: Part Three
Why create an employee advocacy plan?
Employees are often overlooked when it comes to brand advocacy plans. However, an effective employee advocacy plan can have a far-reaching positive impact. Employees who believe in your brand, your products and your services are far more likely to:
- Recommend your brand to potential customers
- Recommend your brand to potential employees
An employee advocate also creates a better environment within your business by:
- Turning new employees into brand advocates
- Inspiring current employees to do their best
An employee advocate is also more likely to do their job better by:
- Upholding your brand values
- Keeping your customers happy
- Growing your customer base
Once you have established the value of employee advocacy to your business you need to bring others on board with you. Share the value of your plan with stakeholders, business owners and employees. The more buy-in you have the more successful you will be.
How to create an employee advocacy plan
#1 – Create an employee advocacy team
The first step to creating an employee advocacy plan is to identify who is going to lead this program. If your business has an HR or Internal Communications department then they can spearhead your advocacy program, often in collaboration with marketing.
Of course, smaller businesses generally won’t have these functions. Instead, look around. Is there anyone on your team who is informally performing these tasks? Who keeps the birthday calendar? Who knows everything there is to know about your products?
As a business owner or marketing manager, you should partner with this person to build an employee advocacy program. Even with businesses as small as ten employees, it’s valuable, and as your business grows you will want advocacy to be part of that growth.
#2 – Create your employee advocacy plan
Now that you have a team talk with other staff members and gather ideas for what an employee advocacy program would look like in your organisation. Firstly, make sure that your brand and your product are part of the employees’ everyday experience by:
- Providing branded office supplies, hardware and software
- If applicable using your own product, software or service
Next, take a look at the employee onboarding, ongoing training and exit systems:
- Create onboarding documentation and training for new team members and ensure it really communicates the value of your product or service to customers.
- Host regular product training sessions for all staff members old and new.
- Establish a smooth exit process. Staff will leave but if you’re lucky they will go on to evangelise your business and products in their future careers.
Finally, examine what added brand value you can offer to staff, for example:
- Provide guidelines and incentives for sharing brand updates on personal social media.
- Establish an incentive program for staff to recommend your product or service.
- Offer free or discounted products to staff members and their friends and family.
- Allow all staff to give recommendations for future product improvements.
Hootsuite has a guide to employee advocacy on social media which you may find useful.
Create a business partner advocacy plan
A spin-off of your employee advocacy plan should be a business partner plan. Take a look at the agencies, freelancers and recruiters with whom you work. Do they all know the value of your product or service? Have they even tried it? Think about your company and work out a way to increase your business partners’ engagement with your brand.
So now you know how to create a brand advocacy plan, get going – no more excuses!