In May 2016, Mike Waite, an employee at McDonald’s in Edinburgh UK, was quite frustrated with the society’s misconception about people who took up a job of a worker at a fast food restaurant like that of McDonald’s.
Annoyed with the judgemental criticism that looked upon him as a non-aspirational student, he chose to address his true opinion which came out to be a powerful brand advocacy statement.
Mike wrote in his Facebook post explaining why there’s no shame or guilt in working at a fast food restaurant. Addressing people’s false perception of McDonald’s workers being lazy or with no goals in life, Mike made it clear how working at McDonald’s helps him save up for his university fees and provides him with flexible employment. By early 2018, his Facebook post had crossed more than 12k shares on social media. This emerged as an ideal mark of brand-employee relationship.
Employee advocacy is the promotion of an organisation by its staff members. It is as important as customer advocacy. This is about creating a strong culture and propagating it through various departments of a business. Employee advocacy is not just more reliable and effective but it also decreases recurring costs towards marketing and branding through other means.
Global brands like IBM, Facebook and Airbnb have successfully improved their brand image by leveraging employee advocacy which has resulted in gaining more loyal customers and better revenues.
Sowing the seeds of brand culture to create employee advocacy
The global giant IBM thriving with tech-savvy culture observed an opportunity to adopt employee advocacy as an important tool for its business growth. With respect to a campaign called #NewWayToWork launched in 2014, IBM raised 120 million digital impressions and drove 141,000 clicks to its campaign through employees sharing content on social media. Read more.
Sustainable employee advocacy can be created by enriching the employees with the brand’s ethics and values through employee advocacy program. Such programs help in forming a better connection with the employees by equipping them with a better understanding of the brand, its vision, mission, goals and values which in turn makes them self-driven to promote the brand in their personal network.
A business may ask employees to actively promote the organisation, often through social media, as a part of their job. Many times, employees are self-motivated to spread a word about the brand they work for, to help increase it’s share of voice and spread positive sentiments.
Employee advocacy means something more than corporate loyalty. Where corporate loyalty is restricted to the values that employees follow within an organisation, employee advocacy involves creating a positive impact of the brand outside the organisation.
Employees who are loyal consumers of the brand they work for, become brand ambassadors when they proudly spread a positive word about the brand.
The happier they are, the louder they cheer
According to a study conducted by The Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today, 64% of advocates credited employee advocacy for attracting and developing new business.
Passion and profession go hand-in-hand
Cultivating the values and ethics of the brand in the employees makes them sincere and dedicated towards their responsibilities. Employee advocacy aligns the employees’ personal and professional growth in parallel as the employees’ corporate responsibilities become a part for their self-growth. Therefore, they are more purpose-driven and make better efforts to achieve the business goals.
Word-of-mouth changes the game
Often employees love to share and promote their professional experiences and activities on social media. They feel proud to promote the company’s culture and its offerings once they get involved in brand advocacy. The buzz created by the employees about the product or service through their personal network fuels up the awareness of the brand and its offerings.
This enhances business growth through referrals and word of mouth marketing by the employees on social media and other offline platforms making them feel proud to be recognised for being an essential part of the brand’s success.
Producing valuable offerings
Sharing the brand’s culture with the employees means involving every staff member and not just the ones from the marketing and sales team. This allows each staff member to work in a way that produces authentic, valuable and non-fabricated output. Each move involves a sense of responsibility.
This enables the employees of various departments to combine their knowledge and skills to create something which is valuable for the brand and favourable for its customers.
Becoming Hero of the consumer world
Employee advocacy is a reliable and organic source of business promotion. Customers often experience more trust in an organisation when it practices transparency in its internal culture. Hence, when they see the company’s staff members spreading a positive word about their company’s culture and offerings, customers tend to develop a better image of the company in their minds.
Weaving stronger threads with the customers
Employee advocates follow brand values and ethics and try their best to keep their customers happy and coming back. Such businesses make it easier for their customers to interact with them and answer their queries. This, in turn, enhances the experience of the customers with the brand and pulls up their satisfaction level and loyalty helping in the sustained growth of the business. Such customers tend to build a strong bond with the brand relying on the experience they had while interacting with the staff.
Customers respond more quickly to people who have a personal relationship with them. As a result, brands can pull out more business form the personal network of the employees through employee advocacy.
Recognising the real gold
Employee advocates are aware of the business’s goals and understand the requirement of new resources in terms of qualification and skills. They become more capable of observing better talent that can help to take the business to a higher level and play an important role in the recruitment of human resource.
As a result, they are also quick in looking at new and creative opportunities for collaborations and fast and profitable ways of business expansion.
Takeaway : Employee advocacy results in higher trust factor among the customers
The influence created by an employee for a customer has much more value than what any form of advertising can do. Employees being the customers themselves are capable of persuading people in their personal network to purchase the product or the services of the organisation that they represent. This informal way of marketing turns much better than any other form of persuasion.
Also, the brand’s culture creates a stronger weave between the personal and professional goals of the employees. As a result, they are more passionate towards their contribution to the brand’s success and take up customer experience seriously. This helps in serving the customers better and developing a long and sustainable relationship between the brand and its customers.