What is employee advocacy? The ABCs of creating brand champions

By Nick Saraev

9 min read

What is employee advocacy? The ABCs of creating brand champions
Illustration by Maya Ramadhina

Employees are no longer just the gears turning the engine. When you elevate the employee experience, they become the passionate advocates who fuel the company's momentum.

Your team not only works for your brand but genuinely loves it, eagerly sharing their experiences and singing your praises. That's the magic of employee advocacy.

As the value of employees transcends their roles in today's workplace, turning them into advocates is the key to business success. Investing in employee experience is directly related to the growth of your business.

So, how do you turn your employees into advocates, and why is it crucial? Discover how engaged employees can become your most influential brand ambassadors by understanding the importance of employee advocacy.

Let's transform your workforce into a dynamic force that loves your brand and passionately campaigns for it.

Employee advocacy and its benefits

The digital age makes scrolling through social media a daily ritual, so imagine if your employees become enthusiastic advocates for your brand. 

With 98% of employees being active on social media and half of them already naturally posting about their workplace, letting them become the voice of your brand can maximize your presence. This is the essence of employee advocacy.

Employee advocacy goes beyond the confines of the office walls. This strategy is deeply intertwined with the employee experience framework. In the same way, employee experience strategies that align seamlessly with employee advocacy programs create a positive employee experience. When your workforce feels valued and engaged, they become natural advocates.

Employee advocacy is the bridge that connects the professional and the personal, making the digital employee experience not just engaging but genuinely captivating.

Bring your people together

Benefits of employee advocacy

Picture this: Engaged employees are like a well-oiled machine, but add advocacy to the mix, and you've got a powerhouse. This goes hand in hand with employee engagement initiatives, creating a harmonious environment where your workforce not only stays committed but actively champions your brand.

Enhanced brand reputation and visibility

Consider this:  87% of executives view reputation as the most significant risk area for companies. Employee advocacy becomes a key component of managing this risk.

When your team speaks positively about your brand on social media, it not only enhances your reputation but also significantly boosts visibility. Your employees, in essence, become the face of your brand, shaping how it is perceived in the digital realm.

Increased employee engagement and satisfaction

Employee advocacy serves as an employee engagement strategy. It's a two-way street – as employees advocate for the brand, they feel that they contribute to the success of the company. 

Particularly in the age of remote work, where physical presence is limited, advocacy becomes a powerful tool to engage remote employees and keep them connected with everyone. Plus, this greatly improves your organization's digital employee experience

To kickstart this, incentivize participation with employee recognition programs. Set achievable goals and reward employees who hit those milestones. It's a win-win: they engage, and you reap the benefits.

Amplified reach and impact of marketing efforts

Marketing accounts for roughly 13.6% of a company's total budgeting in a year. Now, think about investing a part of that budget not in external influencers but in your own team.

Employee advocacy becomes a cost-effective strategy that not only drives employee engagement but also saves resources in the long run. Your team becomes an extension of your marketing efforts, amplifying your reach and impact organically, all the while incentivizing employee performance

How to implement employee advocacy programs

Developing and implementing employee advocacy programs calls for a strategic commitment. This involves understanding the intricate dance between employee advocacy, engagement, and recognition


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Step 1: Establish clear objectives

Implementing employee advocacy programs begins with clarity. Align your advocacy goals with your broader business objectives.

Just as you measure employee engagement, advocacy programs require meticulous measurement. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect success. Whether it's boosting brand visibility or driving specific actions, having clear objectives sets the foundation for a program that delivers tangible results.

Here are six key performance indicators (KPIs) that are particularly important for measuring the success of employee advocacy programs:

  • Amplification rate: Measure how many times the content is shared by employees on social media platforms. Higher amplification rates indicate increased visibility.
  • Engagement metrics: Track likes, comments, and shares on employee-shared content. Increased engagement reflects a more receptive audience and extended reach.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Monitor the number of clicks on shared content links. A higher CTR suggests that employees are not only sharing but also driving traffic to the company's content.
  • Participation rate: Track the percentage of employees actively participating in advocacy programs. A higher participation rate indicates a more engaged workforce.
  • Employee sentiment: Assess this through employee satisfaction surveys. Positive sentiment indicates a well-received program.
  • Conversion attribution: If applicable, attribute conversions or leads back to the specific employees or content that contributed, providing insight into the program's impact on business goals.

These selected KPIs offer a balanced view of employee advocacy program success, covering aspects of reach, engagement, employee involvement, and business impact.

Step 2: Develop a comprehensive strategy

Crafting a strategy shouldn't just be a list to check. This serves as the roadmap that guides your advocacy program.

Identify your target audience and key messages. Just as in employee engagement strategies, the choice of platforms and tools matters. Equally important is having an internal knowledge base. To streamline this process, invest in knowledge base software.

Efficient knowledge sharing is the backbone of a comprehensive strategy that ensures your advocacy efforts are well-directed and impactful.

Step 3: Empower employees to become advocates

Empowerment is the heartbeat of successful advocacy programs. Provide training and resources on employee engagement best practices and encourage employees to share company-related content.

This advocacy can become a part of the broader employee engagement plan. When employees feel informed and involved, they naturally become ambassadors, contributing to building a robust brand.

Step 4: Recognize and reward advocates

Employee recognition is the currency of appreciation. Implementing various recognition ideas acknowledges top advocates, creating a culture of appreciation.

With that, consider investing in employee recognition software. This streamlines the process, ensuring that recognition is timely and meaningful. Recognition also comes in various forms, and knowing what works matters. Offer incentives and rewards for active participation.

Explore different employee recognition gifts and understand the art of choosing the right one. An employee advocacy program's success depends on employees feeling valued as contributors and enthusiastic advocates.

As workplace dynamics evolve, employee advocacy programs are becoming more strategic. As you navigate these steps, remember that it's about recognizing and empowering what your employees can do for your brand.

Overcoming challenges in employee advocacy

Navigating the landscape of employee advocacy isn't without its challenges. Addressing these concerns becomes a critical aspect of fostering a culture of trust and transparency within the organization.

Addressing privacy and security concerns

Employees may express reservations about sharing content on social media platforms as data privacy awareness increases. Nevertheless, 88% of individuals say their willingness to share personal information may depend on how much trust they have in a company.

To overcome this challenge, organizations need to improve employee engagement to establish trust and establish clear guidelines and protocols that reassure employees about the protection of their personal information. Robust data security measures and communication of these safeguards are key components of addressing privacy concerns.

Building a culture of trust and transparency

Trust can make or break any employee advocacy program. This trust extends to the broader relationship between employees and the organization.

A well-crafted employee engagement plan plays a pivotal role in building and sustaining this trust. This plan should include open communication channels, regular updates on the purpose and benefits of the advocacy program, and avenues for employees to voice their concerns. When employees feel their interests are safeguarded, trust flourishes.

In an environment where employees feel secure and valued, there's a natural progression toward personal and professional growth. It aligns with the broader work experience, contributing to a positive workplace culture that fosters continuous employee development.

Case studies: Successful employee advocacy programs

Success leaves clues. When it comes to employee advocacy programs, real-world case studies provide tangible insights into what works. Here are some examples of successful employee advocacy programs from renowned brands, offering a blueprint for inspiration.

Case Study 1: Starbucks

Starbucks leveraged its employees' passion for the brand by encouraging them to share their own Starbucks experiences. 

They've rolled out Starbucks Stories, a captivating narrative brought to life through dedicated social media channels tailored for their advocates, known as partners. The #ToBeAPartner hashtag allows employees to sprinkle their magic on the brand.

Case Study 2: Dell

Dell, a pioneer in employee advocacy, launched the Dell Champions program, where employees globally, known as Dell Champions, actively share content showcasing Dell's social culture.

To qualify, employees undergo social media and brand certifications from Dell’s Social Media University. Unique to Dell is the involvement of top executives. Dell's innovative approach allows participants to curate and share content independently, fostering a highly engaged and successful employee advocacy program.

Wrapping up

As we navigate the realms of brand visibility, engagement, and trust, the impact of a workforce passionately advocating for their organization cannot be overstated.

Creating a culture of employee advocacy transforms individual successes into a collective harmony, resonating not only within the organization but far beyond its walls.

Employee success, within the context of advocacy, also extends beyond individual accomplishments. It becomes a shared narrative where every employee becomes a champion of the cause.

And as the tide of employee success rises, so does the fortune of the organization as a whole. A thriving workforce, when actively engaged and advocating for the brand, drives business success.


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Nick Saraev

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