Employee advocacy is quickly becoming one of the most powerful ways eCommerce brands can build awareness and boost sales. Companies are embracing employees as an essential part of their online brand communication strategies. After all, who better to promote a brand’s products, culture and values to consumers than the employees who know them best?
What Is Employee Advocacy?
Simply put, employee advocacy is the promotion of a company by its employees. Employees are in a unique position to share their inside knowledge of their companies and their products and services. They can also share what they like (or don’t like) about the companies they work for. Employee advocacy programs turn employees into brand ambassadors by encouraging them to actively represent their companies on social networks.
By sharing company-related content to their personal social media profiles, employees can amplify a company’s message. Popular channels include the usual suspects — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube — as well as job sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. According to Entrepreneur, social media content shared by employees gets eight times more engagement than content shared through the brand’s social channels. And, employee-shared content achieves a 200% higher click-through rate than when the company shares it.
More companies are realizing that employee advocacy is just as relevant to their marketing efforts as content and influencer marketing. Today, 49% of US and Canadian companies have an employee advocacy program in place. eCommerce companies currently running successful employee advocacy programs include Zappos, Starbucks, IKEA, Electronic Arts and Best Buy.
A Matter of Trust
Employee advocacy programs are effective because the message comes from actual employees and not executives or human resources. In fact, recent studies reveal that employees hold more sway over consumers than brand messages alone. According to an Edelman study, 52% of consumers trust employees over CEOs, HR or marketing to inform buying decisions. 77% of consumers are likely to purchase something after hearing about it from someone they trust.
The Many Benefits of an Employee Advocacy Program
A well-planned and executed employee advocacy program can be a win-win for both employees and their employers. A good employee advocacy strategy enables employees to:
- Increase brand awareness by magnifying company messages and culture
- Give unique insiders’ perspectives by positively sharing their work experiences
- Act as experts about a company’s products and services
- Improve their brand, grow their network and boost career development
- Establish themselves a company/industry thought leaders
- Represent the best interests of the company
Employee advocacy programs offer businesses just as many positive benefits. By casting employees as ambassadors, brands can:
- Increase brand visibility and recognition
- Gain more leads and boost sales
- Improve employee retention and engagement
- Promote a positive workplace environment for recruiting and HR
- Improve web traffic and SEO ranking
- Impact company growth
How to Keep Employees Excited and Involved
Making the experience fun and engaging enough to compel employees to get deeply involved is key. The more employees who participate, the more successful the program is likely to be.
There are several ways to incentivize employees and keep them motivated and contributing to an employee advocacy program. Implementing these four proven methods can help companies keep their employees engaged and excited.
Open an Employee Store
Online employee stores are becoming an increasingly popular way for DTC eCommerce brands to reward employees for their hard work and loyalty. Dedicated online stores offer employees deep discounts on company products and services. This puts employees in a great position to talk about products on their social networks.
Make It a Game
Turning employee advocacy efforts into a healthy competition is a fun way to keep employees engaged and excited. Employee gamification uses game-like elements like points scoring, leaderboards, rewards and competitive platforms to boost employee engagement. By offering solid incentives, gamification is a proven way to keep employees active and involved over a longer period.
Offer Rewards and Perks
Rewards are an excellent way of thanking employees for their ongoing support of an employee advocacy program. There are many ways companies can reward their brand ambassadors, from cash to VIP treatment at company events. Rewards are particularly effective when teamed with gamification efforts. Attractive rewards can also encourage other employees to join the company’s employee advocacy efforts.
It is important to recognize employee advocates for their contribution to the advocacy program. Companies can reward employees who share the most content, get the most likes or have the highest number of engagements. It is also important to give recognition during meetings, in front of peers or on a dedicated website or social media space. Employees who feel appreciated and valued are more likely to go online to share their feelings of company pride.
Employee Advocacy Lends Authenticity to Brand Marketing
In today’s online business marketplace, employees have become as much of a brand’s identity as its customers and its products. Employee advocacy is effective because it is authentic, built on personal connections across social networks. eCommerce brands that embrace employee advocacy can tap into a powerful way to build brand trust and achieve business goals.
Want to learn more about how Scalefast’s enterprise-grade commerce cloud can build and launch a custom employee store for your DTC eCommerce business? Schedule a demo or talk to one of our eCommerce experts today.