Employee advocacy – more than LinkedIn posts
Many think that employee advocacy equals employee posts on social media. Today, in this context, LinkedIn is the most popular and more and more organizations are investing in it.
However, the definition of employee advocacy is much wider. Scholar Patrick Thelen defines it as a voluntary representation of an organization that can be expressed either verbally (in writing or orally) or non-verbally, both internally, within the organization, and outside of it. An example of non-verbal representation is wearing the company’s merchandise. Content on social media, as well as sharing recommendations or opinions about the organization with friends and acquaintances, are considered examples of verbal representation.
For employee advocacy, LinkedIn is the channel that can help reach the biggest and most targeted audiences, but it’s not the only one.
The reason employee advocacy is getting popular
The reason for employee advocacy getting more popular is simple – as philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt has once said, there is nothing more interesting for a person than another person. And influencer marketing is the best example of this in our days. Even though we know that influencers get paid for advertising products or services, we still believe them more than usual ads. Humans can sell better if they create a story and share their own experiences.
Ryan Holmes, the founder of Hootsuite, says that an employee can humanize the company and make it more familiar to the clients. The power of a human in communication is limitless, and employee advocacy is not an exception. That’s why today, more and more organizations invest in their employees’ courses to represent their organization in different channels.
A possibility or responsibility?
Each employee can decide whether they wish to take up responsibility and represent their organization. It’s ideal if the employee sees possibilities in this. But how is being an
ambassador beneficial to the person?
Remember any situation when you found out important personal news and couldn’t wait to share it with others. Perhaps there was the sweet joy of sharing. A similar thing happens with news that is related to our professional content. When we believe in what we do, when we’re engaged in what we do, when we see the meaning, a wish to share comes naturally. So, advocacy, first and foremost, allows us to talk about things we believe, which leads to a sense of pride and meaning.
Secondly, when representing our organization, we can create value through engaging
content, receive feedback and express ourselves. It’s a channel to showcase who we are as professionals and a chance to influence how other people see us. Being an ambassador is inseparable from personal branding, and while representing our brand, we are also strengthening our own image.
Finally, even if we represent an organization, employee advocacy often means new
acquaintances, which can benefit us in the professional field. Perhaps not today, bet
sometime in the future. New people often mean new opportunities.
And how organizing advocacy initiatives can benefit organizations? First, it allows
strengthening the internal culture. When employees believe in their organization, they tend to share more of what is going on inside. Many organizations that initiate such programs have chat groups where employees are encouraged to support each other – react to content, share ideas, and more. Being a part of such groups not only allows people to get closer to each other but also motivates them to try harder and helps them to feel better in their roles. Besides, employee advocacy allows to reach a bigger audience and strengthen the image of the organization. Finally, it helps to attract talent. Not just any talent but those people who react to ambassadors’ content because they share similar values, and thus are already partially familiar with the organization.
Why aren’t all employees sure it’s worth it?
We can find many reasons why employees sometimes aren’t sure about participating in
employee advocacy programs, but it’s easy to distinguish the most common ones.
Sometimes, employees have other activities than just their job and thus aren’t sure how to integrate different things into one. In this case, it’s important to understand that everything depends on how we tell our story and stand behind it. Additionally, sometimes people simply lack knowledge about what can or cannot be shared. Here, organizations should make clear guidelines which will provide clarity to those who wish to start but are slightly afraid. Some employees also worry about possible negative feedback, but in this case, it’s worth remembering that things we treat as criticism are often just another person’s opinion.
So, how do we find the balance between realizing the opportunities and doubts, between “I want to” and “I’m not sure”?
1. BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF AND YOUR VALUES
Being true to yourself is one of the most important things when looking for balance. We
should know what we want. It’s never worth pretending to be something we are not.
2. BEING AN AUTHENTIC PROFESSIONAL
Allow yourself to share more personal content. Monotonous insights that can be generated by AI quickly become boring. Remember, a person is interested in a person. Of course, you shouldn’t forget that you are a professional, but be an authentic one.
3. MUTUAL RESPECT
We want to create a positive impression of the organization we represent as well as
ourselves. Ambassadors should be conscious of the organization and think about the
content they publish. But the organization itself should, too, ensure a strong internal
culture. I often say that strong organizational culture is a critical element for employee
advocacy. It allows to engage employees and, in such cases, they advertise their
organization naturally, without even thinking about it.
It’s everybody’s choice to decide whether being an ambassador is an opportunity or a
responsibility. But in real life, these aspects usually go together. In any case, each
organization should be happy about its ambassadors who voluntarily share verbal and non-verbal content both inside and outside the organization. If your organization already has people like this, it’s very lucky because employee advocacy can be considered the highest form of love when it comes to employee and organization relations.