Are you struggling to recruit talent? Much like your longstanding clients become your best ambassadors, your staff are usually the best advocates of your firm (provided they are happy of course!). Traditionally more known in the context of HR and talent attraction, employee advocacy is defined as “the promotion of your company by the people who work for it.”
Not only are engaged employees your greatest asset, but they are also your firm’s brand ambassadors. They are your very own champions who hold the key and the ability to amplify your message to prospective talent in ways that not even a marketing or advertising campaign can achieve, and at a fraction of the cost. Likely your employees are already using social media to talk about work. Why not take advantage of that to demonstrate how your firm is an ideal place to work?
Start with your strategy
Outside of ensuring your employees are happy and fulfilled in their roles, the best place to start encouraging advocacy is through your strategy.
Consider your goals. Are you looking to drive awareness and engagement of your brand? Or do you want to receive more applicants for the roles for which you are recruiting? Perhaps you are looking for a specific kind of applicant – people with a certain amount of experience in a specific role in your specific sector. Achieving your goals will require a varied mix of tactics.
The content posted on social media is just as important as the person broadcasting the messages. You will want to ensure that what your employees are posting aligns with your brand values and appearance. The easiest way to do this is to provide your advocates with a social media or content policy. A useful content policy outlines what an employee can and can’t post and provides some brand style guidelines (i.e., tone of voice, vision, and values, and very importantly your name – in our case a subtle but important guideline – Consortium more than marketing, not Consortium More Than Marketing).
A clear set of guidelines and fresh, relevant content are vital to making advocacy work for you and empowers your employees to become efficient and dependable brand ambassadors.
It is a culture thing
The best employee advocate is a genuine one. Content that is personal to the person posting it (even if it is just a few lines added) does so much better than the generic corporate voice. We see a lot of advertising and generic messaging online. A post shared by an individual in their own voice cuts through all that noise.
The best way to get genuine advocates for your firm is to inspire it. Happy, fulfilled, and engaged employees are more likely to be willing to share their experiences. If the culture in your firm results in overworked and undervalued employees, they will have nothing honest to say that will help you.
In the spirit of that authentic approach, and to prolong the life of your advocacy program, include a process for honest feedback from your advocates and employees. Actively use that feedback (mixed with your with KPIs and goals) to adjust the program, your internal process, and the way you do things. Just like client reviews, your employee feedback should and can be used to demonstrate that your firm is a great place to work.
Employee advocacy doesn’t just benefit the firm. Research by the Hinge Research Institute has shown that most people who have participated in employee advocacy programs at their place of work have found it a benefit to their careers. This is a result of the opportunities to network and raise their profile through thought leadership (as well as any training you might offer that they can add to their CV). This is particularly of benefit to lawyers or accountants who wish to build their presence in their respective sectors by demonstrating their expertise.
Making your employees aware of the benefit not just to themselves but to the firm is key to inspiring engagement. Explain plainly how their work in this area will impact the business. Recruitment means growth for the firm but for your existing employees, it may mean a more manageable workload for a conveyancing department struggling under the weight of today’s economic environment, or a payroll team implementing government policy changes.
Historically professional services firms have been wary of social media, and many have discouraged employees from using it at work. Changing this will require a cultural shift in the firm that starts at the top. The best way to beat employee scepticism is to lead from the front and start demonstrating what advocacy looks like. Share and post content that you want to see your employees posting.
Chris Boudreaux, Digital Marketing, CRM Advisory Executive at EY believes employees are less engaged when their leaders are less engaged.
Reward employee advocacy
Employees who choose to take on this work on top of their existing roles should be rewarded for the effort. It is a vital part of maintaining the momentum and authenticity of the project. A good place to start is simply thanking people who participate. Tangible rewards go even further. This can be anything from paying bonuses, to gift cards or hours given in lieu.
Public recognition of effort encourages advocates and inspires others to want to participate. Mentioning an individual’s specific achievements such as engagement rates will remind others of the impact, they are having. Raise awareness and recognise brand champions in your internal newsletters and at meetings.
Making a game of participation is one way to track engagement and reward those making the most impact. Put together a leaderboard of your advocates and track KPI over a set timescale. For example, once a month check how many LinkedIn connections your advocates have. The winner is the one that has made the biggest impact on the brand.
Help your employees to help you
We can help train your team on how to use their voice on social media as champions and advocates for your firm. We can also provide content for you to disseminate on your social media channels. If you would like to find out how we can help you leverage your social capital, email Lara or call us on 01903 530787.