How To Be Effective with Employee Advocacy in 2024 and Beyond

Employee Advocacy 2.0: Team Growth Storytelling

One of the most fun projects I ever worked on as a — then still relatively junior — marketing strategist, was the Employee Advocacy program we rolled out in the Tech Consultancy business I was working at at the time.

It was not only hugely fun, but also wildly successful in all of the beautiful ways that Employee Advocacy can be — far beyond growth and reach towards improving Brand equity, Employer Brand, and employees’ engagement with marketing as well as their connection to the company.

Over the years, I’ve studied how smart people in our industry do it, and have improved my method in various projects. Here’s how you as a marketer or leader in business, can be truly successful with Employee Advocacy in 2024 and beyond.

And how to 10X your potential growth with the help of AI.

But — and this may come as a shocker: it doesn’t start with technology. Nor does it start with begging people to please share your posts, threatening them, or telling them they may win a coffee mug if they do. It starts with understanding people, their relationships to brands, and how people and brands naturally grow.

With this article, I give you some of my 10+ years of experience, borrowed knowledge, best practices, and a 10-step program to be — finally — incredibly successful with Employee Advocacy. Let’s go.

Purpose-driven Marketing: Employee Advocacy and Brand Ambassadors

Purpose-driven Marketing Employee Advocacy and Brand Ambassadors

Here’s a statement that might throw you off a little bit:

“Making your brand Purpose-driven is essentially the same as making your marketing about Employee Advocacy. And vice-versa.”

This, incidentally, is also the starting point for every marketer’s, tech, B2B or SaaS founder and every social media manager’s wet dream: employee and — dare we say it — even customer ambassadorship.

Now, exactly why is making your brand purpose-driven the same as making your marketing about employee advocacy? Because being a Purpose-driven brand is all about alignment: from company purpose to employee’s ‘Why’; and from employee’s and company mission to customer goals.

Your Brand is nothing, means nothing without the people connected to it. The same applies to your Purpose.

Everything you do as a company or organization has to be aligned with what you say your Purpose is. And this alignment starts with the alignment of your people and their drives and actions, to the mission of your company — and vice versa.

Just in case it’s not 100% clear yet at this point: This also means that Employee Advocacy and/or Brand Ambassadorship starts from the inside out; with creating a Purpose-driven brand — starting from HR and Leadership and extending well beyond traditional marketing and branding roles.

Employee Advocacy programs and Brand Ambassador content are merely the (outward) expressions of a Purpose-driven and Purpose-aligned organization.

Now, why is Purpose-driven a good thing to be, again?

The Value of Purpose-Aligned Brands and Employee Advocacy

The Value of Purpose-Aligned Brands and Employee Advocacy

Purpose-driven brands reach up to 300% more growth in revenue, and are able to connect that to higher employee satisfaction. Purpose has been proven to not only improve brand value, and help to grow revenue — it also makes humans more productive, healthy, and creative — among a whole host of other benefits. What’s not to like?

The Benefits of Employee Advocacy

And what makes Employee Advocacy such a coveted thing? Marketing efforts with a focus on Employee Advocacy are able to garner far more impact in terms of views, engagement, and leads. Check out these stats:

Much more reach and revenue growth

Company branded messages reach 561% further when shared by employees versus branded channels. Makes sense, too, right? People trust and want to hear from people, not brands. 31% of high-growth firms have a formalized employee advocacy program (source: Hinge Marketing). Leads from social selling have a 7X higher win rate in sales processes, compared to other sources.

Career growth

Next to that, almost 86% of employees who participate in an employee advocacy program cite the increased social presence as having a positive impact on their career. I’ve seen it again and again: more professional social clout = more growth opportunities for you as a person. Who’s a great example of this that you know personally? Exactly.

More engaged employees

As if that weren’t enough, a psychological effect comes into play when people become a part of Employee Advocacy programs, which makes them feel more connected to the company, intrinsically. And mind you, not only compared to the employees that don’t; but also as compared to themselves before they joined the program.

— So employee advocacy is truly a win-win-win solution. What’s not to like?

Well that all sounds just great, don’t it. But… Now, how do we do it?

Employee Advocacy 2.0: Team Growth Storytelling

Employee Advocacy 2.0 Team Growth Storytelling

First, before we do anything, it’s fundamentally important we change something about our mindset when we talk about Employee Advocacy.

Employee Advocacy is clearly the direction that B2B and SaaS marketing are evolving towards. But not the “please share our social posts on your own profile as well” variety. You know the one I’m talking about.

Why? Because fundamentally, this is simply not how people pay attention, build connections and trust, learn, and finally come to mutually beneficial agreements — business or personal.

People trust and want to hear from people, not brands.

What humans want is to make an honest, actual, human connection.

And we make those when we are free, inspired, facilitated, and applauded for being ourselves; sharing our own truth, our own growth and our own passions, insights and knowledge as we see fit. Lacing the points that are relevant to the company or organization that we belong to with a natural, organic connection to or mention of the company; its story, its goods and services — if and when we see fit, and if and when we deem it natural to the conversation.

Remember this one thing: your people’s identity, their story, and their conversation are not made up out of their being associated with your company. That is only one small part of it.

Think about it this way — whether you’re a social media manager, CMO, Brand Manager, content person, or founder of a business:

See to the growth of the people that are associated with you or your company, first and foremost — including online. This will enable them to grow, and in turn enable your company to grow along with them. Not the other way around.

Here’s how to do that, at a very high-over level, but if you pay close attention, also tactically — and we’ll circle back to that later:

How to Tell Growth Stories as a Team

  1. Listen to the stories that the people you work with, and the people you want to work with, are sharing.
  2. Figure out how to acknowledge, deepen (with clarifying questions), or add to those stories.
  3. Inspire, educate, and facilitate your people to create more and better stories and to reach more people with them — with knowledge and tools from a platform like StoryLab.ai.

Read more about our vision for Employee Advocacy 2.0: Team Growth Storytelling, here.

At a high-over level, this is really as simple as it is. Now, if you want to be more strategic, and more thorough; here’s how to set up a complete and very effective Employee Advocacy Program for your company:

How to create an effective Employee Advocacy Program: laying the foundation in 5 steps

How to create an effective Employee Advocacy Program laying the foundation in 5 steps

Before you start actively using content from employees to strengthen your brand, you need to work on Purpose Alignment from the inside out. Here’s how you lay the foundation in five steps:

1. Team up with leadership and HR, build an internal platform

The first thing you need to do is make your purpose and brand identity come alive from the inside out. Explain to leadership (Board & Management) what you aim to do, what the benefits are, and how they can help. Keep meeting with these internal stakeholders regularly to keep them aligned and on board.

“Only Management can change the system”

– W. Edwards Deming.

2. Unlock inspiration & knowledge

The next thing you’ll need to do is to start unlocking your coworkers’ innate inspiration and knowledge. This refers to knowledge or inspiration around customer needs (market), your brand identity & capabilities, but also knowledge about the necessity and inspiration for great marketing & branding.

Make this a part of your Employee Advocacy/Purpose Alignment kick-off event and internal communications program.

3. Tap into coworkers’ intrinsic inspiration for strengthening your brand

Having your coworkers inspired to do what they can to strengthen your brand, starts from within. It’s in the match between your organization’s DNA and your every individual coworkers’ DNA.

This is something you do in close collaboration with management and HR.

4. Unlock people’s understanding of the value of great marketing content

People need to understand the value and added benefit of marketing/branding activities to want to get on board. Here are few things you can do to get started:

  • Regularly name leads/customers/sales that were demonstrably the results of marketing efforts. One CCO I worked with did this, and from his position, it really made all the difference!
  • Make sure that marketing, sales, and other teams are more aligned by having them literally sit together in a team meeting regularly — although not too regularly.
  • Create and share a clear and communicative marketing & sales dashboard — this could be an Excel sheet or something much more sophisticated and interactive.

5. Unlock your coworkers’ latent knowledge and inspiration about your field

Often unbeknownst to even themselves, through years of experience in talking to people in a certain industry or field and talking about the same sets of problems, they gain invaluable insights and knowledge.

You can start by unlocking this knowledge by simply interviewing your coworkers. Next, take the following ten steps:

Making the Difference with Employee Advocacy 2.0: Team Growth Storytelling in 10 Steps

Making the Difference with Employee Advocacy 2.0 Team Growth Storytelling in 10 Steps

1. Lay the foundation with leadership

Lay the foundation with the Board, Management, HR, and other departments as laid out in the steps above.

2. Create a kick-off event

Create a one-off event and/or more long-term employee advocacy program. Create an event, and make sure you make the following case above anything else:

Every single one of your employees has something of value to share about the field that you work in. You just need to unlock it and get it out, and marketing can help.

3. Roll-out internal communication

Create and roll-out internal marketing campaigns, getting people excited about using the right brand assets for staying on brand, and/or for contributing to the creation of great content.

4. Share knowledge and inspiration

Use your marketing, communication, and branding skills & knowledge to inspire your coworkers about the importance of it.

5. Create templates

Use your marketing, branding, and design knowledge to create the templates your coworkers need to create content that communicates effectively, looks great and is always on-brand. Think about tone-of-voice, and think about tools to make everything better, easier, and smoother for everyone involved.

6. Use AI Content Tools like StoryLab.ai or Chat GPT to minimize friction

If people are motivated to help build your brand as well as improve their own professional standing in their field — make it easier for yourself as well as them. At StoryLab.ai, that’s what we’re enabling with our Team Growth Storytelling platform, with AI-generated content to help get you and your people started, and a ton of free resources on how to get better results with storytelling content. Go check it out here: www.storylab.ai.

7. Share knowledge

Share your knowledge proactively by creating trainings and workshops for your coworkers on how to use templates and create effective content. I once created a blog template & a writing training that together reaped so many great stories me and my whole team were amazed! Trainings can also mean short workshops, given online, in-company, during lunch. Or they can mean full-on AI/Storytelling courses, such as the ones you can find in our StoryLab.ai community environment.

8. Check and Edit

Be sure to always have a skilled human do the final check: have a copywriter check an article written by another coworker — with or without the help of AI; have the graphic marketer do one last check-up on graphic designs, and have the CMO or head of brand chime in on a campaign before it’s launched. Quality matters.

9. Integrate

Integrate the content your coworkers create into your existing marketing & branding efforts and campaigns, to ensure maximum visibility and maximum ROI for your coworkers’ efforts. Nothing beats a colleague beaming with pride because his or her blog or video racked up X thousand views or because their whitepaper or webinar got your organization a brilliant lead!

10. Automate

Now, once you’ve done all of this, or even just some of it, I’m sure you’ll start seeing results. But to 10X your results and to consolidate them — be sure to be smart and efficient, and automate everything that can be automated. Think about a content planner with an Employee Advocacy suite embedded.

Finally, remember this high-over, strategic approach:

How to tell Growth Stories as a Team

How to tell Growth Stories as a Team

  1. Listen to the stories that the people you work with, and the people you want to work with, are sharing.
  2. Figure out how to acknowledge, deepen (with clarifying questions), or add to those stories.
  3. Inspire, educate, and facilitate your people to create more and better stories and to reach more people with them — with knowledge and tools from a platform like StoryLab.ai.

This also works as a very very practical, day-to-day content management/social media management tactic!

Read more about our vision for Employee Advocacy 2.0: Team Growth Storytelling, here.

Do you want to get ready for the future of Branding, Storytelling, and Content Marketing

Do you want to get ready for the future of Branding, Storytelling, and Content Marketing?

If you want to learn more about this subject, and you really want to future-proof yourself, your brand, or your marketing team and processes — you might want to check out our AI Content Marketing course at StoryLab.ai.

This AI Content Marketing course is for you if you’re a marketer, content creator, or leader in marketing or business, and want to start thinking more strategically and holistically about AI and how to integrate it into your content marketing strategy and processes.

Yes, we talk about how to get the most out of AI for smarter, faster, and more cost-effective content creation processes. Yes, we talk about trends and the different tools you could use, and we talk about prompt engineering.

But more importantly, we talk about what this new disruptive technology really means for your company and for your brand — and help you think about how to use the emergence of AI (or any disruptive technology) to redefine what success and growth signify for you as a professional, for your team, and your company — in the context of marketing.

If this sounds like just the thing you and your team need, check out the course and sign up today — gaining one month of free access to the StoryLab.ai Community + one month StoryLab.ai Unlimited, as a bonus!

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FAQ

What is employee advocacy?
Employee advocacy refers to the promotion of a company by its employees, who share their support for the company’s brand, products, or services on their personal social networks.

Why is employee advocacy important for businesses?
It’s important because employees can significantly extend the reach of company messages, build brand authenticity, and increase trust among their personal networks.

How can a company implement an effective employee advocacy program?
To implement an effective program, provide clear guidelines, create shareable content, offer incentives, and use tools that make sharing easy for employees.

What are the benefits of employee advocacy on social media?
Benefits include increased brand visibility, improved brand reputation, higher engagement rates, and potentially a greater reach into new customer segments.

How does employee advocacy impact employee engagement and satisfaction?
It can enhance engagement and satisfaction by involving employees in brand promotion, giving them a voice, and making them feel valued as part of the company’s success.

What types of content are best suited for employee advocacy?
Ideal content includes company news, behind-the-scenes insights, achievements, industry news, and content that aligns with the employees’ professional interests.

Can employee advocacy help in recruiting efforts?
Yes, by showcasing company culture and values, employee advocacy can attract potential job candidates and improve the overall quality of applicants.

What challenges might companies face with employee advocacy?
Challenges include ensuring message consistency, maintaining authenticity, and managing the balance between professional and personal content on employees’ social media.

How can companies measure the success of their employee advocacy program?
Success can be measured by tracking metrics like reach, engagement, website traffic from shared content, and changes in brand perception or employee satisfaction.

What training should employees receive for effective advocacy?
Employees should receive training on social media best practices, understanding the types of content to share, adhering to company policies, and aligning with the brand voice.

Would you prefer more personal help?

Erwin LimaHi, my name is Erwin Lima. I’m a Growth Storytelling Consultant and Coach, and co-founder and Head of Storytelling at StoryLab.ai. Over the past 10+ years as a copywriter, author, consultant, and coach, I’ve helped hundreds of Brands, Teams, and individual human beings to grow their sense of motivation and focus, but also their reach, engagement, and revenue — through the power of their own story. Is there anything I could help you out with?

You can find out more about and get in touch with me on LinkedIn and or on my website.

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