Active Employee Advocacy: How User-Generated Content Shapes Your Employer Brand
Ever wondered what an #InstagramInfluencer and your employer brand could have in common?
Okay, you’ve probably never wondered that. But I bet you are now!
The answer? User-generated content (UGC).
UGC isn’t all about sponsored posts and perfectly filtered pictures. The work-related content your people post online can be invaluable for your employer brand.
Of course, your employees probably aren’t using their weekends to create TikToks about how much they love their job (but it’s definitely not impossible - we’ve seen it done!). But with the right environment and encouragement, active employee advocacy is easier than you think.
What is UGC?
In the marketing world, UGC is anything created by people, rather than a brand.*
UGC has evolved in leaps and bounds from the early days of social media. While the humble Google review still has its place, there are now whole YouTube channels dedicated to unboxing hauls of products. In a world where Influencer is a legitimate career, the impact of UGC across a range of audiences can’t be ignored. And while UGC has skyrocketed for certain platforms and industries, we shouldn’t confine ourselves to thinking it’s only about bloggers spruiking the latest fashion trends.
UGC can be an excellent complement to your employer brand. There are elements of your employer brand you can shape yourself - the content you choose to put out on your own social media channels or your website, for example. You have less control over what other people choose to post or say. However, if potential employees see your people posting great things about why they choose to work with you, it can be incredibly powerful. (Don’t underestimate the positive impact it can have on potential customers and investors, too.)
Of course, we’d all love our workforce to be full of engaged people who love to positively contribute to an online conversation. But how can you make this happen?
Encourage a culture of story sharing
If good UGC is the goal, how do we get there?
It’s important to encourage a culture of story sharing. Here are three steps to make it happen:
Want your team to celebrate their work externally? Start by celebrating them internally. Get creative and strategic about how you can embed this - is it a Slack channel to share wins as they happen? Is it a weekly email for everyone to share their highlights, or a monthly shout-out with the whole team? Make sure you celebrate all the moments that matter, big and small - the daily wins, new starters, work anniversaries, and reaching personal goals.
2. Identify, educate and empower
Fostering a positive culture that celebrates people is one thing. Communicating that culture to the world is another. UGC needs to be created by the individual - there’s no glossy campaigns here. But how do you encourage that to happen organically?
The first step is to identify the people you think are most likely to be great active employee advocates. They should already be positively engaged with your organisation and excited about sharing their stories on social media. Ideally, they already have an established platform. Consider getting these people in a room together to connect and brainstorm content ideas. This is also a great chance to set any expectations from the organisation’s point of view (for example, around privacy policies or other permissions).
3. Get involved
If you want your people to share content unprompted, you need to contribute, too. It can take a while to get the ball rolling, but it’s important your people feel supported to share from the beginning. So, make sure you regularly log in to LinkedIn (or whatever social media platform your people favour) and engage with the content your people put out. Nothing kills the desire to post more than zero likes.
Walking the talk: UGC at EBA
Here at Employer Branding Australia, we like to think we know a thing or two about creating a supportive culture that keeps our people connected and engaged. We celebrate each other every day, in private and public. We’re proud of the work we do and the culture we’ve created.
We celebrate new team members with welcome packs and handwritten cards. We celebrate milestones like EBAnniversaries. We know that if we’re hiring for a new role, our people will jump in and explain why people should choose us (from their own point of view - usually a combination of purpose, impact, and the regular pun-offs in our group chat!).
EBA doesn’t offer any incentives or benefits to do this. Our people do it because they care.
And it works. The comment section of our posts often features some kind of “dream job” conversation. And we often hear about our peoples’ social media content in the recruitment process. So, we know candidates are listening to what our people are putting out there!
Most importantly for us, our people are proud of the work they do here, and they’re connected to each other because they share that pride every day.