What's the worst that could happen?
The latest season of Game of Thrones is in full swing and all this talk of Houses Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen has me thinking about teams. (No spoilers, I promise.)
One goal for every business is to bring a group of workers together under one banner, fighting for the same cause. Many organisations focus on nurturing collaboration, productivity and a sense of fun. Creating a team, however, takes more than open-plan offices, monthly outings, and a wellness program. Teams are built upon shared values and goals that unite diverse people, skills and perspectives.
So, how can you empower your team to unite and conquer the Seven Kingdoms?
Employee Advocacy programs allow businesses to turn workers into experts, advocates and contributors. With the right planning and tools, every (willing) employee can become an extension of your brand; helping you expand your reach, build trust and foster authentic engagement with staff and customers.
The key to success, however, is letting those shared values shine through authentically.
Advocating for advocacy
Interest in formal employee advocacy programs has skyrocketed in recent years. As social media has taken a leading role in customer decision-making, businesses are keen to squeeze more from their channels. Employee advocacy does just that. Businesses are able to leverage the knowledge, passion and networks of their employees to strengthen the reach and impact of their brand story.
This is uncharted territory for many businesses. It’s like swapping a mailman for an archer; By empowering employees to share your story, you dramatically increase the size of your audience and the precision of your message. It’s why brand messages get re-shared 24 times more frequently when shared by employees rather than the brand.
Your employees also might be on new social platforms that your business has yet to join, further amplifying your message. Regardless of the platform, however, if your team sees the value of your products and services, it’s likely others in their personal networks will, too.
The demand for authenticity
Value is key. For employee advocacy programs to succeed, employees must speak the brand’s values, but with their own voices. Leads from employee advocacy are seven times more likely to close and customers referred by an advocate have a 37% higher retention rate.
It’s authenticity that makes the value-add so powerful. Brands may talk the talk but it’s difficult to make customers believe. Customers want to hear it from someone they trust and in a way that makes it relevant to them.
Employee advocacy taps into the growing appetite for authentic engagement. In the pre-digital days, brands focused more on driving authority, rather than authenticity. Brands reigned like kings, reinforcing a ‘one-to-many’ approach and supported by the dominance of mainstream TV ads and print media.
Cut to today where brand interactions are now ‘one-to-one’. Brands must navigate a reality in which a simple post can make or break their business in an increasingly diverse and competitive media landscape that makes it difficult to capture and keep audiences’ attention.
Authenticity is more important than ever. While customer stories have grown in importance, employees bring a unique insight into your brand. Encouraging and enabling them to promote you, whether online or at the neighbourhood BBQ, is gold.
Finding common ground
Without shared values, employee advocacy programs can veer off-track, becoming an avenue for individuals to promote themselves rather than the brand. Keeping the ‘team factor’ is critical; Businesses must think about the values that unite them internally. ‘What keeps your staff passionate about what they do?’ ‘What does your business want to be and how does that help your customer?’ All of these questions can help you frame a program that benefits the brand, its employees and its customers.
When you know what your brand stands for and the reason why you have an engaged team supporting you, you can empower those people to start speaking about it. Plus, by offering support, you reinforce why it is so important to have theirs in return.
It’s time to raise your banner.