Only 33% of buyers trust messages from a brand, while 90% of customers trust product or service recommendations from people they know. (Source: Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey)
Candidates trust the company’s employees 3x more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there. (LinkedIn)
Need we say more?
Well yes, because it’s clear that many businesses are missing a trick when it comes to using some of their biggest assets to build their Employer Brand.
And we know exactly the problem: it’s not that they don’t know their people are their biggest asset in all kinds of ways. Most employers do. It’s just that they don’t know how to use them.
What is an advocate?
Quite simply and in the broadest terms, an advocate is anyone – anyone! – who speaks up for you.
In Employer Branding terms, a brand advocate is seen to proactively share information about your business, team and workplace via social, their networks or good old-fashioned word of mouth.
Most importantly – and what we talk about a lot – is doing this authentically.
Your best advocates have no incentive to speak on your behalf other than their love for your Employer Brand.
Who are your best advocates?
You have brand advocates within and outside of your business. These will vary from sector to sector and of course will have varying influence depending on the size of their own network, reputation or seniority, for example. The ones you should look at and start talking to include:
Yes, it’s an obvious one. After all, it’s their job! But if all of your recruiters are telling a consistent story, it’ll really help it to stick in the minds of candidates.
Absolutely key to the success of any advocacy strategy, your current employees are your most important advocates. They will be talking about you anyway, whether posting openly on forums about their experience or answering discreet questions from enquiring colleagues.
Yes, we’ve seen statistics telling us that people trust the voice of employees more than CEOs. But that doesn’t mean you should exclude them. They have a powerful voice. The trick is to make sure that they convey a warm and inviting personality. After all, they are speaking to potential colleagues, not stock market investors.
Your alumni are invaluable! A good report from an ex-employee is worth its weight in gold and says so much about the relationship you’ve established despite them advancing elsewhere.
Friends & Family
The friends and family of current and former employees have a good perspective on what it’s like to work with you: if your employee has a good experience at work, they have a great experience of a person who is fulfilled and happy in life.
The value of this kind of goodwill cannot be underestimated and can amplify Employer Brand messaging way beyond paid media.
Your business partners know what it’s like to work WITH you. These may be sister companies, or other members of trading groups or associations you belong to. They have a good idea of the ethos of your business and your people: they work with them every day. It’s another example of great relationships: talent that wants to work for you will be interested in who you work with and how.
Again, your suppliers are an invaluable source of feedback and evidence of good relationships. Recruitment agencies and HR tech suppliers are great examples of people who are usually willing to share your content – they’re usually keen to keep the relationship sweet! It could be said that how you treat your suppliers is the most important indicator or how you treat people in general. Mutual respect and trust are key values that we all appreciate in any working relationship.
If you have a loyal brand following and strong customer relationships, your customers will feel an emotional bond with your business. They’ll be keen to help your business grow and prosper as it helps them to validate their own decision in buying from you. So there’s no harm in asking your customers to share your employer brand content with their networks.
Equally, you may have built a base of followers on social media who may not be customers, but like to hear more about your brand. They may also have friends and connections who are right for your roles. Sharing your content enhances their personal brands – they are visibly helping their connections with helpful content that could improve their lives.
In most sectors, there are social media groups and high profile bloggers who are happy to share your content. Again, it enhances their reputation because they are helping their communities.
How do you activate your Employer Brand advocates?
This is the bit where most people fall down and that’s because they don’t know where to start.
Our advice is, to quote Simon Sinek (as we frequently do) “Think big, start small, but just start”.
In an ideal world, you’ll have an EVP and Employer Brand strategy in place. But there’s no need to wait. Our advice is always to:
Start where you are with what you have.
- Identify key people from across your business who are confident and positive
- Talk to them about their experience of working with or for you
- Ask key questions
- Collect soundbites and video clips you can use in social posts
- Post little blogs and videos on your social media pages
- Research the groups we’ve outlined above. Send them a friendly message about your post and ask them to share on their social pages. Simple!
You’ll find that once you get over the initial fear of rejection, it becomes quite adictive. It’s exciting seeing your content shared by others and it’s hugely effective.
Activating your advocates in an authentic way is always good. Doing that in the context of a great Employer Brand is even better.
Because an EVP and Employer Brand strategy will help consistently define what you can offer, what you want to achieve and overcome any issues. It also makes telling your compelling story easier and amplifies all your messaging under one cohesive banner.
Find out more with our free guide ‘7 Proven Steps to Becoming an Irresistible Employer of Choice’.