By establishing an employee advocacy program, companies can strengthen their own reputation and brand, while enabling their employees to do the same.
It is widely known that engaging your employees is a very effective way to improve brand perception. The obvious question is why would an employee want to take part in helping their company in marketing or brand building? What does an employee really gain by participating in an employee advocacy program?
One compelling benefit for launching an employee advocacy program is the clear dual value provided to all constituents. These programs, when executed correctly, are a true "win-win" for both brands and their employees. The benefits to the marketers are obvious; by tapping into the collective trust and amplification power of their employees, brands can generate broader awareness, amplify their marketing campaigns, and build their reputation via trusted voices in the market. The benefit to employees is their ability to authentically participate in their company's future while also developing and building their personal brands.
Just as companies have their own unique brand and stories, so does every employee that works at the company. The employees' personal brands are built on their experiences, passions, and the social connections they are able to develop within their business and social circles. Individual personal brand is what can truly differentiate an employee from other people who work in the same industry and also can highlight what makes them unique or valuable to a market, industry or company.
One of the best ways to construct a personal brand is on social media. Employees can build profiles that showcase their experience and knowledge, connect with relevant people in their industry, share content, and engage in conversations about their industry, career, or passions. The social media channels that should be used will vary, depending on the employee's industry, department, and passions. But as a starting point, LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal channels for most professionals.
A personal brand doesn't just focus on someone's current position, but on one's long-term career and interests. All of the content shared, conversations joined, and connections made are documented on these channels and stay with the employee throughout their career. Over time, these individual components come together to form one cohesive story and personal brand.
Having a strong personal brand shows potential employers, industry influencers, prospects, and customers that an employee understands the industry. By consistently sharing and engaging with relevant content, employees can show that they're not only intelligent and knowledgeable about their industry and current company, but that they have social media smarts as well. Those qualities are all key things employees need for long-term career development and growth.
While employees might be eager to increase their social following and engage with connections, it is time-consuming and may not seem natural for them at the beginning. As they develop themselves and get involved in their employer's advocacy program, they can be empowered to become a trusted voice in the market. The best employee advocacy programs ensure employees are provided interesting and relevant content that helps them stay on top of the topics and verticals they are interested in, while also ensuring they position themselves as true thought leaders and innovators in the market. Employees should be able to tap into the rich marketing and content resources provided by their employer and share those articles, ideas, and multimedia that they find most compelling, and that is most compelling for their audiences.
Even if employees are passionate about their role and company, as advocates should be, they will eventually move onto other opportunities. By establishing an employee advocacy program, companies strengthen their own reputation and brand, while enabling their employees to do the same.
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Russ Fradin is the co-founder of Dynamic Signal and a digital media industry veteran with more than 15 years' experience in the online marketing world. Russ co-founded and was CEO of Adify (acquired by Cox for $300 million in May 2008) and co-founded SocialShield. He was also SVP of BD at Wine.com, EVP of Corporate Development at comScore (NASDAQ:SCOR) and was among the first employees at Flycast (acquired by CMGi for $2.3 billion in January 2000). Russ is also an active angel investor in the digital world and is on a number of boards. Russ holds a BS in Economics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
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