By Lisa Hester, Senior Account Manager

If you’ve not yet created avenues for employees to be brand advocates for your company, now’s the time. The amount of added exposure it can generate for your brand is astounding.

Not long ago, and frankly still to some degree today, there existed a more controlling attitude about disseminating brand information in a structured, pre-approved, methodical approach with PR, HR and legal at the center of communications.

But as Pew Research Center numbers indicate, Generation Z (those born in the mid 1990s to early 2000s) comprises the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. They were born into and have embraced social media as a way of life. They are well connected, with far more followers than many companies have on their own.

For example, LinkedIn found:

* employees of a company tend to have 10 times more followers than their company

* while only about 2 percent of employees re-share their company’s social posts, they are responsible

for 20 percent of overall engagement

Bringing employees into the communication mix can greatly expand the visibility and positive sentiment about your brand. A recent Forbes article takes these statistics even further by suggesting that you can increase your company’s reach by 561 percent by involving the employees. The reasoning is that employees have their own networks, online connections and followers, which add up when multiplied by each employee.

And many employees are ready, willing and able to help. According to Dynamic Signal’s 2019 Annual State of Employee Communication and Engagement Study, 82 percent of respondents said that if their company’s employee engagement efforts were better, they would be an advocate.

That’s not to say that employee advocacy should be a free-for-all, or that it would come alive simply by announcing its existence.

To initiate:

  • Establishing some parameters, educating employees on communication basics and providing a sense of direction will help jump-start the program.
  • Involve key employee influencers to learn what resources employees will need and what incentives will motivate their activity.
  • Encourage creativity, leaving plenty of room for employees to share heartfelt messages as authenticity will resonate more with their followers than any canned messaging.
  • And openly welcome feedback as the program unfolds.

As with most concepts, buy-in is essential to success…and rewards certainly don’t hurt either.

And yes, PR folks, let’s set goals and measure these efforts regularly and plan to adjust what we’ve set in place as needed. Keeping an employee advocacy program alive and well will reap unbounding rewards.