Maybe others are a bit vague on the the term ‘Employee Advocacy’ as I am as I research the topic for this week’s #SMXChat.

The term first conjures up the image of a Human Resources-type buzzword doesn’t it? I mean, advocating for employees and all? (We’ll skip the obvious questions surrounding that topic for now.)

This week we will focus on the term in its also well known context of Employee Advocacy (Advocates) for the brand with which they are employed, and the usage, ethics, impact, and effectiveness of social media in that pursuit. It seems a logical and practical way to seize on associates as our first line of ‘influencers’ in promoting our brand.

I found a rather simple and precise definition of the phrase in this context:

[Employee Advocacy] describe(s) the activities of brands empowering employees to support the goals of the brand, through employee-owned social media. That is, employees use the social media accounts that they own personally, such as the employee’s personal Twitter account or Facebook account.

– from http://socialmediagovernance.com/social-employee-advocacy-software-buying-guide/

What_is_Employee_Advocacy_Diagram
Image Credit: https://getbambu.com/blog/what-is-employee-advocacy/

And the topic is spawned from our Open Mic session in the chat last Tuesday when this question sparked discussion for a good portion of the chat:

And said discussion ranged from the curious to the cynical with various point and counterpoints along the way. I think, though, that there is consensus on the philosophy that our people are a powerful (and perhaps untapped) source of promotional energy for the brand.

In her May 27, 2016 Forbes article on the topic, Meghan M. Biro cites a Weber Shandwick/KRC Research study that found that of 2300 participants in a survey, fifty percent have shared something about their employer on social media. Meghan’s article also lists some great common-sense guidelines for implementing and encouraging employee advocacy:

  1. Let it be. Our ‘personal brands’ matter, why not converge some of that energy with our professional image?
  2. Grab possibilities. Just about every generation is embracing some social platform. Let serendipity and opportunity happen.
  3. Transparency. Listen, if you’ve trusted them enough to work for you, you can trust them to speak for you. That’s the ‘democratization’ of organizations brought about by social media.
  4. Communicate. The fear (being realistic) of opening up to associates communicating outwardly is offset by YOUR effective internal communication. The message is clearest that is best communicated.
  5. Analyze. The best way to know if something works is to analyze results. Use data to your advantage.

Source: Biro, Meghan. 5 Ways To Grow Employee Brand Advocates. Forbes/Leadership. May 27, 2016.

The power of employee advocates is unlimited, and it dovetails beautifully into the new perception of work as an investment not only in hours, but in engagement. – Meghan M. Biro

Voila! Isn’t THAT what we’re looking for? Engagement – with our associates, among our partners, inclusive of our customers. One big happy community.

Q1) Does organizational culture and leadership impact employee advocacy? How?

Q2) How are formalized processes and guidelines vital to an employee advocacy program?

Q3) How do you build an advocacy ‘culture’ that is consistent and positive?

Q4) Does gamification of an advocacy program ruin its organic feel? Always? How?

Q5) Does using personal social media in advocating for your employer complicate your personal brand?

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