The employee advocacy trends that every organization should know about and consider in the new year.
Over the last few years, businesses and company leaders are increasingly valuing the power of their people (employees) more than ever before.
Activating employees is no longer just a supplemental approach, but a must have for your company to continue to grow and advance.
And because of that, employee advocacy programs have grown from a novelty concept, to a true game changer for companies.
Now, as we move into a new decade, there will be some interesting employee advocacy trends to lookout for and think about.
The Employee Advocacy Trends to Watch
The traditional meaning of employee advocacy is defined as the promotion of a company by employees who share their support for a company’s brand, product, or services on their social networks.
This definition certainly still holds true and will continue to in the foreseeable future.
As employee experience shifts, new digital generations of workers join the workforce, and employee activation becomes more powerful — the use cases for an employee advocacy program are evolving.
Let’s get into some current trends.
Side Note: If you want a further dive on all things employee advocacy, our in-depth resource is perfect for you. You can read that right here.
Employees Creating Content
The rise of employee-generated content is here! Companies and leaders are loosening the content controls in their employee advocacy platforms. And more brands should follow suit!
With employee advocacy, you don’t want to have a spam army of work drones sharing the same exact content with no value. The spam firehose is not true employee advocacy and audiences will see right through that.
In the early days of employee advocacy, this was more accepted. But today, that makes your brand look lazy and distrusting of your employees.
So what can employees create for more authentic employee advocacy? Blog posts are an option, but doesn’t have to just be articles.
The EveryoneSocial platform allows employees to add or create images, video, or add third-party content that interests them.
You might be thinking, “That’s great but we still need some compliance.” And especially in a regulated industry — totally understandable.
Besides a great social media policy, you can still require certain language or hashtags that get appended to any potential social shares. But remember locking everything down and not letting employees contribute their thoughts defeats the goal.
For example, many financial service companies are realizing this and opening the doors for more employee content creation and social sharing.
Original Content > Branded Content
Focus less on branded content and use more personalized content to increase authenticity and engagement. Social audiences will gravitate toward the brand from original content content too.
Let employees advocate for whatever they want (with some limitations of course) because they become more relatable to other people.
Employees want to share what they know and love — and that has a positive impact on the brand. Some branded content is okay to throw in the mix, but let employees put their own thoughts to it.
And if you aren’t sure about this, take a look at some of the biggest brands around. They are already focused on more original content.
Companies like T-Mobile, Dell, Adobe, The Home Depot — they empower original content over just their branded stuff. You’ll see original content on their branded pages, team members advocating their knowledge and excitement, and much more.
As I mentioned before, sharing content to social and engaging with company social posts will always be a part of employee advocacy programs.
But over the years we’ve found there to be many more opportunities than just sharing content. And other brands have made this discovery as well.
This is the core reason we continue to focus on product innovation. We know the market is shifting and we see how brands can continue to improve many areas of their business with employee advocacy.
Another employee advocacy trend we are now seeing is how the platform becomes your company’s internal workplace community.
An employee advocacy platform becomes a knowledge sharing hub for employees to not only have information from company and colleagues, but stay connected to one another.
As Rani Mani of Adobe wrote for us:
“The employee advocacy program with its curated content and centralized platform serves as the rallying point to bring your employees together and gives them an online meeting spot to engage, deepen, and strengthen relationships. Employee engagement, productivity, and engagement grows. “
Company-Wide Roll outs
One employee advocacy trend that is starting to ramp up is organizations preparing a company-wide roll out of an advocacy platform.
In the early days, the focus was primarily on key departments like marketing and sales.
However, since social media in the workplace is largely accepted and the benefits affect more areas of the business, company-wide rollouts are becoming an interest.
Yet, not all advocacy platforms are built for this or have the know how to make scaling easy. But we are now seeing more organizations understand the benefits of a company-wide program.
Will all employees actually sign up? Maybe not, but imagine 65%, 75%, or 95% of your organization connected, informed, sharing, collaborating, and creating.
Related: Wondering how other well-known companies have been successful with employee advocacy early on? Grab our guide to some of the best employee advocacy examples.
Employee Advocacy Trends According To Our Team
I asked a few members of our team from different departments like sales, client success, and our creative team to see what they thought were some important employee advocacy trends.
Read a few of their thoughts (and my own) below.
Alisa Switzler – Client Success
User training sessions over the last two years have transitioned from receiving questions about why sharing content is important to how to maximize content that is being shared.
Clients have started to get onboard with not only providing third party content to users but also encouraging their users to share a good mix of content.
I see employee advocacy becoming universally understood as to the “why” and now also shifting to “how to maximize” its benefits.
Chris Reese – Sales
As people trust ads less and less, the value of having an employee advocate for their employer will become increasingly more important and impactful.
I believe we will see ad spend level-off and dollars devoted to the sharing of employee voice rise.
Those who are not doing this will be left behind, while those who are building an employee advocacy asset with their people will see significant gains over competition; both in the form of sales and recruitment.
Jason Brain – Creative
The expectations surrounding authenticity have shifted from celebrity to community.
And this isn’t my own assertion — studies conducted by Google and OMG have found that half of Gen Y and Gen Z regularly seek out new content to: make sense of their own lives, better understand others, and have something to talk about.
This is to say half of all content is engaged just to broach a conversation; have something to talk about. A good movie is only as meaningful as the conversation it inspires, right?
By talking about content, communications are established (to say the least) and most importantly: a community grows. The foundation that enables this content-communications-community engagement starts with an employee advocacy platform.
[Google and OMG, U.S., “Personal Primetime” Study, n=3,200 respondents, Oct. 2018.]
Todd Kunsman – Marketing
While employees sharing content is still going to be a standard component to employee advocacy programs, the use cases are evolving.
We will see more organizations using their advocacy platform to build an internal community where everyone in the company has access to information, their colleagues, provide feedback and knowledge, and feel connected to company initiatives.
Instead of being silos of specific departments or employees, employee advocacy will become more of a company-wide necessity.
Derek Debenham – Sales
Employees will become increasingly more involved in employee advocacy programs as companies realize the value and performance of user-submitted and user-generated content.
Now employee advocacy is becoming ubiquitous at the enterprise level and we will see that more in the mid-market to SMB space.
- Employees will start to expect an employee advocacy program as part of their employee experience
- As more companies see the value of employee advocacy we will see more enterprise-wide adoption across organizations
- Video usage will continue to grow as a content sharing medium
Erica Newell – Client Success
Employees, and their networks, care more about authenticity than ever. Individuals look online to make decisions around a purchase, plan, career moves, and everything in between. “90% Of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews,” (Marketingland).
Having authentic conversations internally sparks sincere dialogue outside of work — both on and offline. And employee Advocacy will follow this shift.
The most successful brands will invest in sparking internal discussion that can disseminate into their brand image.
Cameron Yates – Client Success
Employee Advocacy at this point is/should be synonymous with giving access to content (both branded and 3rd party) to your team(s) and allowing them to pick and choose how they’d like to craft their own voice.
With an individual’s voice being the ultimate impact downstream, it makes sense that we start by helping teams understand who their voice is truly impacting.
If you’re a sales person or a recruiting person then you have specific topics and audiences you’re trying to target; same goes for account managers. If you’re a marketer then you likely have a wider audience.
Employees should think about the individuals they’re trying to get in front of and truly think through how to get in front of these people (topic-centric #hashtags) and which networks their audience will be active within (each network is different and has its own strategy).
Advocacy initiatives are now — and will continue to be — about empowering your team(s); this goes for both giving them the tools to discover and share, but also the knowledge of how their activity can be most strategic and effective.
“Quality over quantity” from a content choice and strategic delivery (where/when/discoverability) are what truly separate those who come across as SME’s and those who don’t.