The title of our Community Manager Appreciation Day panel was Employee advocacy: pros and cons of employee empowerment. All in all, the panel saw employee advocacy beneficial for the company and employees as well, and didn’t see many cons with it at all. Here’s the key takeaway from the panel:
- The company benefits from employee advocacy because it’s useful for marketing and building the company image. It gives the brand an extended reach via social media channels that employees use and where the company couldn’t necessarily reach to.
- Employees have credibility in their own networks, so they get the message through better than the company would do. Ambassadors give a face to the company that the audience can relate to, and it can be very powerful and positive thing when the audience may see the human side of the company.
- It also engages employees, and they will take this engagement beyond social media, into dark social, which means their private communication online and offline.
- Benefits for employees are that they can build their personal brand on social media as knowledgeable professionals and their job satisfaction may increase if they get the feeling of achievement by creating new opportunities for a company. They can also extend their networks and expand their knowledge when they act as ambassadors. In addition, the openness that comes within employee advocacy improves organisational culture and well-being at work.
This is so good that it’s breathtaking, huh? But are there any risks then? Not many, our panel thinks. Employees, of course, need guidance of what to share and not share, but mainly it’s a question of trust. If employees are unsatisfied, there may be a risk that they say their piece, but on the other hand, they could do that anyway, with or without an employee advocacy programme.
So how to start then?
- According to the panel, the first step to start is that the company should offer every employee a chance to participate and ask what channels they use, what they want to do, and what kind of training they need.
- Second, the company should provide the needed training, give tips and best practices, and build employees’ confidence to act as company representatives.
- Third, the company should name a person who supports advocates and also organise peer support practices. Employees also need advice on how to respond to unexpected negative comments on them or the company.
There are several ways to act as an employee advocate. Employees can create their own content, such as write blog posts and take photos, or alternatively share the company’s content and other people’s blogs and news articles. The company should provide an easy access to the content.
To conclude the message of this panel, everything is based on employees’ enthusiasm. A company is a facilitator that should hold employees’ hands, but it should also give them freedom to be themselves. They will share the content that they value and believe in.
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