The statistic on the left reflects the potential of employee advocacy, a word-of-mouth tactic involving a business’s employees. And logically, the number of companies implementing this type of programme has exploded in recent years!
The principle is simple: every employee belongs to professional and personal networks where they can share news and content from their employer, such as articles or videos. And an employee will be all the more willing to do so if they are proud of their role, the company, their brand, and of course the content in question.
In this respect, many businesses, often in B2B, are content with a simplistic version of employee advocacy on Linkedin: social selling. This practice consists of having employees share branded content, especially in commercial roles. We have nothing against this practice, which, when done well, has the merit of bringing value to the buyer. But it is not social selling that we want to talk about. Because employee advocacy has a much wider potential, as you have already realised.
The potential of employee advocacy 2.0
To harness the true potential of this strategy, what we propose is to look further ahead and capture these testimonials and expressions of employees’ attachment to their company. And of course, on video!
Would it be presumptuous or old-fashioned to call this approach employee advocacy 2.0? No, because there is a real evolution, as our customers and large groups such as Danone and Microsoft have shown us (see below).
Moreover, this approach results in a more authentic tone and image of the company, which is what consumers and future recruits are looking for. So yes, having employees create videos themselves has its challenges, but it is not without its benefits. Let us convince you!
Objectives and benefits of employee advocacy: reminders
Why implement an employee advocacy programme? This is not always a simple question to answer: while the definition of “employee advocacy” includes the notion of getting employees to promote your organisation, it varies from one entity to another and continues to evolve.
So let’s take a quick look at the reasons for launching an employee advocacy strategy in your company. Employee advocacy serves communications and marketing as well as HR objectives.
On the marketing side, promotion via employees is a sure way:
- To show an excellent reputation of the company, that of a group where the employees are fulfilled,
- To attract new customers and prospects by increasing the visibility and authenticity of its message, particularly on social media,
- To promote the skills of qualified employees and even their status as experts in their field.
And on the HR side, employee ambassador programmes have proven to:
- Attract new talents by showcasing employees in employer branding,
- Strengthen the commitment of existing employees by fostering a sense of belonging,
- Recognise team successes and experiences as well as personal backgrounds and skills.
For those companies that have been able to inspire and impose this type of practice, the benefits of employee advocacy are clear:
- Videos created with and by employees are generally more authentic and resonate with the audience,
- The economic benefits can be substantial: lower video production costs and increased sales due to better education and conversion of targets,
- Quality and quantity of talents applying increases with a better employer reputation.
The computer giant Dell has understood this strategy well, which has led to tens of thousands of visits to their site.
“One of the big tenets of our social media and community training is that we want people to post 80% about topics that are informative, helpful and relevant to our customers or are personally interesting to our employees, stuff that reflects their own interests. Only 20% of the content they share should actually be about Dell.”Amy Heiss, Former Dell Program Director
Content that gives employees a voice
Employee advocacy is still a recent tactic with great potential, as its promise is broad and in line with the times: to give a voice to employees, those who are most likely to talk about the company and its commitments. However, simply sharing content generated by the company, which is what most Employee Advocacy strategies usually boil down to, is not enough. The best way to capture the attention of potential customers and talents is to give employees a direct voice.
Why? It seems obvious to us: the premise of employee advocacy is that employees are the best ambassadors of the company they work for. If we take this to its logical conclusion, we would rather see and hear employees than just follow the classic corporate content they have posted.
And as they are the best to talk about their working environment, the products, services and collections or the workshops, shops or other premises, it would be a shame not to have them as guides to understanding the company and getting a clearer and truer picture.
In short, the “ultimate” employee advocacy is to put your employees in the spotlight. And the ideal tool for this is video!
Employee Advocacy shines in video
Video, the main tool for employee advocacy
Video is emerging as the key communication medium of this decade (dare we say century?) and there is no better tool for employee advocacy!
Of course, when it comes to video in business, there is some reluctance:
- The communications teams, who are usually entrusted with it, are already very busy,
- It is generally required that videos look professional even when you have limited resources,
- And even if you are familiar with filming and being filmed on a smartphone, the pro camera lens is still a little scary.
But, increasingly, that is not the case anymore, thanks to more adventurous employees in the communications team and across the business.
And for the comms team, it’s smart to offer employees tools that let them capture testimonies and moments in the life of the company in a way that corresponds to the rules set by the company. These images can also be used directly by the communications department in the form of portraits or thematic compilations – our premises, our commitments, team life, world tour, making-of…
Danone, for example, made this corporate video with rushes filmed by employees. The authenticity is there, and the advantage for the company is that it saves money because there is no need to call on production agencies across the world.
With this type of approach, it is possible to keep control over the content created while leaving freedom and autonomy to the employees to remain themselves: indeed, employee advocacy works best when it is natural, spontaneous and authentic!
Employee advocacy works best with natural videos. What you lose in terms of professional appearance, you gain back in terms of credibility. A good example of this is a very professional video from Google which backfired. This content praises its qualities as a model employer and features young employees talking about their experience in the company.
The problem is that the video is too well made, too smooth. And it loses all credibility. You only have to read the comments to understand that this is the general opinion of the audience of this video. Too scripted, too branded, this video does not seduce its audience who wanted more authenticity… You can’t fool your audience!
How can we avoid falling into this trap and still create quality videos? Provide the right tools to empower employees to create their own videos. This is the simple recipe for creating authentic employee advocacy videos!
Inspiration: two successful employee advocacy videos
Putting employees on stage in a boring corporate video is no longer enough to create an authentic and engaging video. The trend, over the last ten years, has been towards employee-generated content.
Not only do the employees speak, but they create the videos themselves, resulting in a much more engaging and “real” format compared to company-created content.
The perfect example is this Microsoft video created entirely with scenes filmed by employees. The video highlights moments from the daily lives of employees while showing the team’s philosophy and values. Thanks to employee generated content, this inspiring video appeals to the audience.
Creating such videos is not very complicated! It is quite possible to create your own employee advocacy videos from scratch: this is what real estate firm Cabinet Bedin did, by producing an interview with an inspirational company figure.
The Network Head of Cabinet Bedin in the example below talks about his professional career and the reasons why he joined the group. This authentic yet professional format leads to the introduction of powerful anecdotes: for this Cabinet Bedin Immobilier employee, a highlight of his career was when a client found and bought her childhood home through the company. What a way to highlight, the mission of Cabinet Bedin!
Employee advocacy: are you inspiring or commanding?
“How are we going to get the agents on the ground to agree to play the game?” exclaimed the head of Cabinet Bedin’s communications team in the middle of a meeting to promote employee advocacy. While the communications team has understood the many advantages of this practice to boost its content and employer brand, it sees that employees do not always understand the challenge and most say they have neither the desire nor the time.
Through discussions with our customers, we have noticed that this is a problem that many companies face: employees, without being opposed to it, are not very familiar with this practice. This raises the question of employee advocacy: is it enough to inspire? Can it be imposed?
The ingredients for successful employee advocacy
An employee advocacy programme is successful when the content shared, or even created, is authentic and engaging. It is no longer enough to ask employees to share the company’s post on their LinkedIn page or to retweet its latest news: successful companies have understood that they need to go further and give employees a voice to testify, give their opinions or provide their expertise!
How do you do that? Simply by using video, a visual, audio and eye-catching format. Consumers want to see to believe, so video is the best way to show that your employees have a real bond to the company, the values that drive it, and the causes it is committed to.
However, video is a medium that is not mastered by all employees, which is why managers and communications teams are wondering whether to impose the practice and limit the employee’s role to a brief speech, or whether to inspire teams to produce content themselves on the subjects that seem appropriate to them.
Imposing the practice and its framework, isn’t that the best way to alienate your employees and obtain the opposite effect of the one you are looking for? Yet this is what companies prefer: 100% controlled communications. And as inspiration and vocation are concerned, even if most employees are ready to talk about their company and experience, few take action, and often with an end result that does not fit the canons of corporate communications.
What is the best strategy to adopt?
One strategy that works for a significant number of our customers is to combine the two approaches: we inspire in part and impose the necessary framework.
Firstly, you have to take the path of least resistance: find volunteers who want to testify and use their approach as an example for their colleagues. Secondly, the company’s resources must be made available for the process (organisation, equipment, video skills). The aim is to facilitate the process by centralising the production of video content and the organisation of the implementation of employee advocacy.
The keys to a successful employee advocacy programme
There’s no mystery to a successful employee advocacy programme: as with any communication or marketing tactic, you have to measure and equip yourself properly. Without metrics and measurements, there is no way of knowing what the impact is. And without the right tools, the task is difficult.
Measuring the effectiveness of your employee advocacy video
The number of views
Depending on the platform on which it is posted, it is possible to see how many views the video has had, as well as the view rate over the duration of the video. By keeping a close eye on these figures, it becomes very easy to identify the type of videos that are doing well, and the formats that are less successful.
Interactions generated on social networks
Likes, comments, shares… engagement on social networks is measured by these interactions which are real indicators of the video’s performance. However, this data should be considered carefully: not all content is intended to create buzz!
This employee advocacy strategy serves several purposes: for example, to generate traffic to the company’s website, to generate sales or to publicise job vacancies.
Tools to facilitate the organisation of the employee advocacy programme
Employee advocacy is not yet a widespread practice amongst businesses. Therefore, companies that adopt it today have an advantage over their competitors. There are many tools that facilitate its roll-out:
- Kannelle, the all-in-one solution to create videos in 15 minutes, without technical skills, with only a smartphone. Ideal for communications teams and employees alike.
- Social Dynamite or Hootsuite, to centralize the planning of shared content and to share content on behalf of your coworkers.
As we said, there is no secret: the key to a successful employee advocacy programme is to have the right tools to get organised and to measure and analyse the impact to keep improving.