Employee advocacy is the promotion of a firm's brand by its employees. But it goes much deeper than that. It's a culture of believing in the content a firm produces and seeking out opportunities to spark discussions on social networks with other individuals who share similar passions or interests. In short, employees become a firm's brand ambassadors in the digital marketplace.
The Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today conducted a comprehensive online survey of professionals who use social media for business purposes to figure out how businesses are using employee advocacy and what results they are getting.
The study covered a range of topics. Key questions included:
- What is the current state of employee advocacy?
- How does employee advocacy impact my firm?
- How does employee advocacy impact the advocates?
- How can my firm build a successful employee advocacy program?
They found out that firms with formal employee advocacy programs grow faster and see more benefits than those without them. Nearly 31% of high-growth firms have a formal employee advocacy program, more than double the average of all other firms.
A formal employee advocacy program helps shorten the sales cycle. Nearly 64% of advocates in a formal program credited employee advocacy with attracting and developing new business, and nearly 45% attribute new revenue streams to employee advocacy.
Benefits of employee advocacy extend beyond the firm and impact the advocates themselves in a positive way. Almost 86% of advocates in a formal program said that their involvement in social media had a positive impact on their career.
The Millennial Generation recognizes that using social media can differentiate them from their peers, develop social media skills that are in high demand, and lead to more job opportunities.
Implementing an employee advocacy program is not for the faint of heart. It requires proper training, a significant time investment, and the appropriate software tools. On average, nearly 60% of individuals in formal employee advocacy programs spend at least five hours per week using social media for business purposes.
The most effective way to motivate employees to advocate the firm brand on social media is to explain why they are being asked to do so. Both managers and advocates agree that this communication is the biggest motivator, more so than gifts, monetary incentives, or public recognition of performance.
One of the problems that companies face when implementing employee advocacy programs is lack of training. It's dangerous to assume that employees know how to use social media in a business setting.
The study asked respondents to indicate whether or not they received social media training from their firms. 72% of respondents identified that they have not received any type of training from their firm. And 57% of respondents indicated that additional training on social media engagement would have a significant impact on employees within their firm.
You can download the whole study for free here.