Who are your best employee advocates - and how can you leverage their voices?

The best recruitment marketing is success stories from your current people.

So, why do so many organisations get employee advocacy wrong?

People are 3 times more likely to trust the voice of an employee over the CEO. Your people also have further reach - on average, employee networks on LinkedIn have 10 times more connections than a business account.

Employee advocacy works - but only if you do it right. And this is where many brands trip up. They’re overly worried about controlling the brand narrative, so they micromanage, resulting in inauthentic drivel that ends up having the complete opposite effect.

(Remember when Amazon went viral for their suspiciously upbeat tweets from allegedly “fake” employees? “My name is Burt. I am a happy Amazon employee. I like gardening and travelling. I have never peed in a bottle because I was denied a bathroom break on my 13-hour shift.” Blink twice if you need help, Burt.)

If you want to increase your employee advocacy efforts while avoiding an Amazon-like misstep, here are three steps you need to take.

Encourage their online presence

Employee advocacy on professional networking sites like LinkedIn is a win-win for you and your people. You’ll get great exposure, and your employee will also be building their personal brand and establishing themselves in their industry.

Reach out to a few people who may be good advocates for your employer brand. Side note - we don’t recommend pinging the whole company with a “you should post on LinkedIn!” message. It’s normal to have a few people who aren’t your biggest fans, and while we don’t want to silence them (it almost always backfires), we don’t exactly want to place a microphone in their hand either.

Your ideal advocate should be someone who is already socially savvy, with an interesting journey and perhaps some exciting projects or acknowledgements in the pipeline. Start by prompting them with a few ideas, but don’t micromanage. Trust them to have their own voice - and be comfortable with the fact that it might sometimes include the challenging aspects of their role. This is all part of the story, and sharing this will build trust with your audience that will pay off in the long run.

Want to tell the story of your organisation through your people? Check out our EBAmplify services to see how we can help.

Shine a spotlight on them

Another great option is to share your employee advocates from your organisation’s point of view on the company website or social channels. This is a more serious commitment with time and budget involved, so you’ll want to be strategic in identifying employee participants. Consider choosing people who are representative of your diverse workforce, as well as your unique workforce planning priorities. Who will you likely need to hire? Will this story help them understand if you’re the right choice for them?

It’s also important to consider the interest of their story - what could the “hook” of the story be? Consider people working on interesting projects, those with unusual career journeys, or perhaps even a hobby or volunteer pursuit that can add a layer of interest.

These employee advocates could feature in people stories in either written or video format to show their career journey and why they choose to work for you. The great thing about this kind of content is that you can recycle elements for a range of talent assets, like pulling short quotes for recruitment posts on social media or heading banners for job ads.

Don’t forget about the real world

When your people are standing with their friends around the barbecue and get the “So, how’s work going?” question, what do you think they say?

What employees say about you when no one is looking (or at least, when no one they think can affect their next performance review is looking) is critical to your employer brand. It’s also the hardest for you to control - but you absolutely can influence it through the way you treat your people.

If you want your people to sing your praises, you must be committed to shaping a positive employee experience. Celebrating your people internally on a regular basis may not feel like an important element of your employer brand, but it’s one of the best ways to stay in the good books of your people’s peer networks.

Ultimately, shaping a positive culture of story-sharing and celebration will do wonders for your employer brand. Need a hand with your storytelling strategy? Get in touch to see if we’d be the right fit.

Tahlia Robinson

About the Author

As Employer Branding Australia’s Commercial Marketing Storyteller, Tahlia Robinson communicates our fantastic, imperfect organisation’s story to the world. With a background in PR for non-profits, she specialises in connecting organisations with their audiences in positive, meaningful ways. Tahlia is keenly interested in accessibility, activism, and keeping up with current trends on social media (while constantly wondering if she’s too old to be on TikTok).

About Employer Branding Australia

We exist to help you attract the best talent and keep them engaged. Together, we’ll create and promote your 'Why work for us?' and turn your authentic people stories into your most powerful marketing tool.

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