Marketing ~ 12 min

Advocacy Marketing: Helping Employees to Become Part of the Program

Marketing Team, Experts in Employee Advocacy, Sociabble
Marketing Team Experts in Employee Advocacy

Advocacy marketing as a concept has been around for years. But what happens when it’s not just customers spreading the word, but actual employees? In this article, learn how employee advocacy can be the cherry on top of your marketing strategy.

The notion of customers spreading the word about new products and services they like is one of the oldest forms of marketing there is. It is the most organic and natural way for someone to learn about a company. And this idea has become incorporated into many company’s marketing strategies as part of an “advocacy marketing” initiative.

But what if it’s not just customers who are singing a company’s praises, and helping to spread positive brand awareness online and elsewhere? What if employees can play a role too? In this blog post, we’ll discuss how employees can become an integral part of your overall advocacy marketing strategy, via the communication channels that employees use most.

What is the advocacy and social marketing definition?

Before we begin: What are advocacy marketing and social marketing? What do the terms actually mean? Well, it’s relatively straightforward:

What is advocacy marketing?

advocacy marketing is when individuals share their own positive opinions of a brand or a product with their natural peers, thus spreading the word and increasing positive brand awareness, which is an example of employee advocacy.

In technical terms, this could take virtually any form, whether it’s a friend telling you about some great new coffee brand they tried that morning while you’re having lunch, or a positive review written online about a wonderful hotel someone spent a night at. It’s that simple: just real people sharing their opinions of a product or service.

What is social marketing?

Social marketing is simply when that same concept is applied to social media. These days, social networks have taken the place of many of the traditional analog forums of yesteryear—it’s where people—and potential customers—go for information, news, opinions, and entertainment.

So it’s only natural that it has also become a place for sharing opinions on products and services. Trying to spread positive brand awareness over social media is social marketing. And when individuals do it of their own volition, regarding a company or brand they know, it is known as advocacy marketing.

advocacy marketing

What is an example of advocacy?

Well, as discussed above, advocacy itself can take many forms, as there are no limits to the kinds of ways that brand advocates can make their voices heard. But there are some common forms that appear more frequently than others in today’s online landscape.

They include:

YouTube review videos.

Some brand advocates like to use YouTube as a way to share their own thoughts on products and services, and others seek out these kinds of reviews when making a purchasing decision.

Facebook posts.

Facebook is another place where brand advocates may post content regarding an experience they had, with their followers often commenting on the reviews. Facebook users often personally know most of their followers, so these kinds of posts are generally trusted.

Instagram posts.

A great deal of Instagram content is sponsored—that is to say, brands pay Instagram influencers as advocates to talk about and feature a product or service.

This might be a fashion item, a hotel and resort, a car—anything is possible. Because of its visual nature, Instagram appeals especially to products and places that have stunning appeal.

Twitter posts.

These have the most potential to go viral and to attract engagement from advocates, because of the ease of resharing within the platform. It’s also easy to tweet directly at a brand, and say what you like (or dislike) about their product. It is less visual, however, so expect more text-based reviews.

And that’s to say nothing of new forms of advocacy that are just starting to emerge via media like TikTok, or even the Metaverse. Advocacy is hardly a static thing, but rather a notion that is constantly evolving as the internet and media channels change through innovation and adaptation.

In all of these cases, though, regardless of the media channel, fans and advocates of a brand will often follow their account and interact with content—and in many instances, create their own content (UGC). UGC (user generated content) is an incredibly powerful tool, because when it comes from clients and consumers, it is regarded as trustworthy and authentic. When a consumer is thrilled with a brand, and they share that enthusiasm across their own social networks, becoming advocates, everyone who follows them will listen.

What are the advantages of an advocacy marketing strategy?

Its advantages as a form of marketing are fairly straightforward: by harnessing the enthusiasm of your most loyal—or satisfied—customers and clients, you’re allowing them as advocates to do the job of traditional marketing, however, in the most effective way possible.

Because they are real people sharing real thoughts, their message comes across as more authentic and organic. And because the people following them on social media already have an existing relationship and trust their opinions, the message they convey will have much more impact than traditional marketing or advertising. To be more specific, the advantages of a customer advocacy marketing campaign include:

More trusted.

According to Nielsen, over 90% of consumers trust WOM marketing recommendations over any other type of marketing. It is the power of word of mouth marketing (WOM) that instills this trust, as it is coming from genuine people, not brands.

That’s the true power of customer advocacy marketing, and why it’s such an effective method and form of marketing.

Wider audience.

The average social media user is connected to 400+ friends, colleagues, and family members. Which means that 400+ people can be potentially reached by an advocate on social media with a single post.

And each of these people, in turn, has the potential to become an advocate if they share the same positive experiences with the brand.

More affordable.

The fact of the matter is, social media algorithms favor UGC versus brand content. To be visible, a brand generally needs to invest money and pay for sponsored content. This is why customer advocacy marketing can be a more effective and affordable way to stand out in the flow of content—you’ll get more reach without having to pay for the impressions.

Data shows that brands see an average ROI of 650% per dollar spent on advocacy marketing—and yes, that is a great return on investment when it comes to marketing spend.

More authentic.

When a customer talks about a product that they appreciate, the stories they share are more embodied and personalized, so the storytelling itself is more authentic.

This is positive for a brand that wants to be perceived as more authentic, more real, more human—an expensive advertising campaign may be flashy, but it would not register the same way as simple, real-world customers who love what you offer and want to tell their friends about it. That, simply put, is the most valuable form of marketing there is.

advocacy marketing quote

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What is needed for an effective brand advocacy marketing strategy?

We know what customer advocacy marketing is then, in the general sense. And how effective it can be. But how do you jump-start the process? What can a company do to get clients and consumers excited and talking about the services or products that they offer? To share their enthusiasm for the brand?

Here are a few basic steps to achieve strong results.

Offer a great product or service.

This may seem obvious, but it’s true: if you want people to become enthusiastic about your brand and what you offer, you have to give them something to be excited about.

Make sure the customer comes first.

When making decisions, take them into primary consideration. Customers these days are savvy, and they have high expectations. They can tell when a brand truly cares about them, versus solely being profit-oriented.

Make it easy for them.

That is to say, have a strong social media presence, and create regular content that they can comment on and share. Make sure you’re easy to find, and easy to follow. Be accessible online.

Get them motivated.

Offer incentives for social media engagement. This may be as simple as re-sharing positive feedback and interacting with it as a brand (users love that!) or including special offers or rebates in exchange for creating content. Obviously, you don’t want it to be completely transactional—you just want to get them excited and engaged to see results.

Stay on the lookout for new fans!

This can mean always making sure your social media handles are included on marketing messages, materials, and websites, encouraging people to follow you online, and maybe even hosting events designed to get people engaged with your social media accounts. Contests, for example, with content creation and specific hashtags are a great way to get new fans on board.

How do you create advocacy in communications?

When you think about it, it makes sense: it’s only logical that customer advocacy marketing can also be applied to employer brand and employee marketing. And what does that mean exactly? What’s the best way to define it?

It means you can go one step further and help your own employees become advocates of the company as well. It’s a great way to improve employer branding, for starters—after all, it’s nice to know that a company is full of satisfied employees and teams. But there’s more.

It’s actually possible to have the same approach to advocacy marketing with employees as with consumers. In fact, employees are often happy to share the news of their organization on their own social media. They’re generally proud of their organization’s business success and achievements, and thrilled to spread the word about important milestones and moments.

But beyond that, they’ll also reach a different and wider audience than the one the brand usually reaches when posting on social media. It’s truly an overlooked resource: one of a company’s most underused assets when it comes to achieving marketing results is its own employees. And when an organization realizes that, everybody wins.

advocacy marketing program

What is an employee advocacy program?

So the idea is there: recruit employees to become part of a broader advocate marketing strategy for your business. But how does a company do that? What, specifically, does employee advocacy and employee marketing look like?

Simply put, employee advocacy is a way for employees to share their enthusiasm for the brand with their peers, helping them to become advocates and brand ambassadors online. It creates awareness organically, in a way that consumers can embrace and thus trust the brand. It means instituting a program designed to increase employee engagement with company content, and encouraging them to share their thoughts with their online peers on a personal level.

And it works! Content shared by employees receives 8 times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.

To accomplish this, however, and to get employees on board to participate in employee marketing efforts and online interaction, it pays to have the right tools for your business and your teams. A powerful employee advocacy solution can make the difference between a program that works and one that fails to generate engagement.

Sociabble: the effective platform solution for your employee advocacy program

When it comes to effective digital tools and employee marketing, Sociabble is an employee advocacy and employee communication platform that makes it easy for companies to get their workforce engaged with company news, while in turn encouraging them to share it, comment on it, and create their own related content to be published online. They in effect become part of employee marketing to help the brand via their own content ideas.

And what makes Sociabble so effective? Well, for starters:

  • One-click features make sharing easy on all the most important social media networks
  • Automated reward and incentive features for a more fun and engaging experience
  • A powerful and detailed data analytics package to optimize engagement
  • Accessible from desktop and mobile (because frontline workers can be excellent advocates!)
  • And much more…

what is advocacy marketing?

An example of a successful employee advocacy program: Renault Group

One company that used Sociabble to jump-start an employee advocacy program and help its workforce become brand ambassadors is the French automobile manufacturer, the Renault Group. And with 170,000 employees and 5 different brands, they had their work cut out for them.

But they wanted to help their employees and their various teams become more digitally savvy, and also contribute toward a more solidified brand image online.

With Sociabble, they were able to engage their employees from across the spectrum—including frontline workers who didn’t have access to a desktop, but who could access the platform from their mobile devices.

They were also able to help them become more engaged in sharing company content, with reward features like Sociabble Trees, which resulted in increased engagement and CSR activity via reforestation initiatives. After just 4 months, the Renault Group had planted 400 trees as engagement rewards, and in just one year, they had doubled their online reach.

If you’d like to learn more about how Sociabble can help your company launch an employee advocacy initiative, just click here for a free personalized demo. We’d love to chat!

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