Employee advocacy programs are not yet ubiquitous, but adoption is growing rapidly. These programs—through which companies empower their employees to use their own social media channels, such as the employee’s personal Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account to share company news, insights, expertise and communicate on behalf of their employer—are increasingly attractive to companies as they provide new ways to enhance brand awareness, online reputation and thought leadership, strengthen relationships with customers and prospects, generate leads and attract new employees.
Yet, these programs are complex, often spanning multiple departments, functions and business goals—and companies are facing numerous challenges as they adopt, manage and grow these new programs. These were among the key findings of a new study, Employee as Brand: The 2016 State of Employee Advocacy, from JEM Consulting & Advisory Services, a consultancy dedicated to helping organizations gain competitive advantage through the use of digital and social media.
The survey-based study was designed to explore the trends and best practices for employee advocacy program adoption and management, goal-setting and measurement, growth, training and tool usage. The purpose of the study is to track the adoption and growth of these programs, and to provide a useful resource to teams preparing to launch or who are currently managing an employee advocacy program. One-hundred-thirty-four companies responded to the survey.
Key findings include:
- Employee advocacy programs are not yet ubiquitous, but adoption is growing rapidly. Nearly 50% of the companies surveyed do not currently have an employee advocacy program. However, of those that do not have a program in place, 24% are planning to launch one this year. Top industries adopting employee advocacy include: business and professional services (30%); advertising / marketing / public relations (15%), and technology (8%). The lowest adoption is in highly regulated industries: financial services, legal and healthcare.
- These programs are still very new: 31% have been in place for less than a year; 54% less than two years and 15% from three-to-five years.
- Enhancing the company’s thought leadership position, extending the reach of branded content, reaching new audiences, and improving employee engagement are the top business goals for companies that have employee engagement programs.
- LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are currently the most used social media channels by employees for employee advocacy. There was a low level of use of online video and platforms focused on visual media.
- Employee advocacy programs are being managed by various functions across the organization, primarily: Marketing (31%), Corporate Communications (23%) and Social Media (23%) teams, but also Human Resources, Public Relations and Internal Communications, as well as other functions.
- Companies face many challenges in the successful management of these programs. Employee participation, measurement, content, budget, training and enablement and tools and technology to support the program are the top challenges for companies managing these programs.
- There is room for improvement: Nearly 40% of the companies surveyed are neutral or dissatisfied with the success of their employee advocacy program.
“Most employee and brand advocacy programs are still fairly new, and companies are still developing best practices,” said Jen McClure, CEO of JEM Consulting & Advisory Services, who led the study, in a news release. “We also noticed some missed opportunities. Nonprofits seem to be lagging in their adoption of these programs. This is a missed opportunity for these mission-based organizations. We also saw a low level of use of online video and visual media, yet these are the most shared types of social posts. Companies should think about how to use channels like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube more effectively.
“Other areas for improvement include the need for more strategy, enablement and governance of these programs, which will help to lay the foundation for success. Business goals and program measurements need to be better aligned, and companies should focus on their number one challenge—increasing the participation level of their existing advocates, not just on increasing the number of advocates. There is also a low level of risk mitigation in terms of addressing security and privacy risks to protect the employees’ accounts and brand reputation,” said McClure. “We are confident that as these programs mature and best practices and solutions to support these programs continue to be developed, these challenges and risks will be addressed and level of satisfaction and success of these programs will continue to increase, along with the adoption.”
Also, the key findings of this research were presented in a webinar, sponsored by Proofpoint on July 19th. The webinar recording is available here. JEM Consulting and Proofpoint will present two more complimentary webinars in this series. The next webinar will take place on Tuesday, August 23rd and will focus on “How to Address the Challenges and Risks of Employee Advocacy.” The final webinar in the series will be held on Tuesday, September 20th, and will focus on top tips and best practices for successfully managing an employee advocacy program.
Source: PRWeb; edited by Richard Carufel