Turning Your Employees into Brand Advocates

Empowering employees to publicize and promote your organization’s brand can give you a clear edge in the war for talent, experts agree. And the recent trends toward marketing employer brand and leveraging social recruiting have opened up the possibilities of expanding engagement with passive talent and allowing employees to become an essential part of the mix.

Such employee advocacy programs prompt a company’s most trusted advocates—its employees—to share their stories over social channels, significantly expanding brand awareness and job opportunities, all while building the employee’s personal brand.

Done right, this can be a profitable way to attract talent. “Employee advocacy is a recruitment marketing channel based on your employees’ enthusiasm,” said Carrie Corbin, head of talent attraction, employer brand and diversity recruiting for American Airlines, based in Dallas. “It’s not enough just to be a great employer; people on the outside have to know that.”

Enlisting employees to advocate on behalf of the employer lends authenticity to recruitment marketing and expands the company’s social presence.

“If you micromanage them about what they share, they will not be engaged.”

“You’re getting trusted guidance from the people you are connected to and would trust the most,” said Chloe Rada, senior marketing manager for talent acquisition at Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company headquartered in Paris. “Corporate careers channels are often not humanized, and messaging can be hard to decipher. Is the story coming from the employees, or is the brand speaking?” The corporate channel is still important, she said, but people outside the organization relate better to its employees.

Sodexo shared about 600 pieces of content during fiscal 2016, a majority of which were not job-related. The effort produced more than 43 million impressions. “We’ve seen a huge shift from leveraging our employees’ networks, to have that exponential reach,” Rada said.

The following tips can help you turn your employees into effective advocates for the organization.

1. Encourage participation. This could be a culture change for some companies, but you’re going to have to trust your employees, Corbin said. “If you micromanage them about what they share, they will not be engaged.”

Corbin also recommended tapping into the company’s employee resource groups to disseminate information and tying incentives to advocacy. “We would create competitions to see who could drive the most referrals or opt-ins to our talent network,” she said.

2. Offer coaching. There is some coaching that needs to take place, Rada said. “Review their social channels and help get them be consistent in the way they are portraying the company first before you get them set up with a shareable content program.”

Employee advocates also will need to be trained on compliance with the same rules and regulations that any recruiting professionals must comply with.

Have advocates go beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of the job to focus on why they do what they do, and why that matters to them, said Charlotte Marshall, vice president of digital, social media and employer brand at Magellan Health, a health care services company headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We launched a #WeDoGoodWork campaign to share with candidates. The campaign focuses on employees’ stories of passion and purpose in carrying out our mission. Those stories are recruiting gold. Powerful stuff,” she said.

3. Have an employer-review response strategy in place. Requesting reviews of the company on employer-review sites is another great way employees can add to employer branding efforts. “Because all reviews require both pros and cons, employees can reaffirm positive attributes, while expressing thoughtful concerns,” Marshall said. “Focusing on selected responses that address more realistic experiences is important. In my last role at Thermo Fisher, we looked to address responses that fell within the middle 80% of reviews, steering clear of those at the extremes which did not attempt to reflect our culture.”

4. Don’t forget to measure results. This step is critical to driving adoption, optimizing your approach, and [generating] tangible business outcomes, said Jess Von Bank, vice president of business development at Symphony Talent.

Metrics will show how employee advocacy efforts are helping the company reach its goals, Marshall agreed. “Did the Glassdoor ratings improve? What was the reach and engagement that week? What was the highest performing piece of content? Who were your super-users? Make sure you call out and celebrate successes to keep the momentum up,” she said.

Copyright 2017 SHRM. This article is excerpted from https://www.shrm.org with permission from SHRM. All rights reserved. The original article was written by Roy Maurer. The full article can be found here.

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