Ashley Zeckman

Mold Your Engaged Employees Into Brand Advocates

matt ridings and michael brito

Matt Ridings & Michael Brito Advocating For Employee Advocacy

Employee engagement is key in improving productivity in any industry.  A happy employee is much more likely to be more productive than their counterparts.

A recent study from the National Business Research Institute (NBRI) shares just how important it is to keep employees engaged.  Findings include:

  • Engaged employees product twice as much work product in the time as unengaged employees
  • The average adult spends a quarter to a third of their waking life at work
  • 40% – 80% of customer satisfaction is affected by employee attitudes

Additionally NBRI identified the following six traits of engaged employees:

  1. Believe in their organization
  2. Have the desire to work to make things better
  3. Understand the business context and the bigger picture
  4. Are respectful and helpful to colleagues
  5. Are willing to go the extra mile
  6. Stay up to date with developments within their industry

Many organizations are missing a key opportunity to turn engaged employees into advocates for their brand.  I recently attended a session at NMX Las Vegas featuring Michael Brito (@britopian) and Matt Ridings (@techguerilla) where they discussed the necessity for advocacy from both inside and outside the organization.  Don’t think your employees can be advocates for your company?  Think again!

Why Is Advocacy Important?

Advocacy for any brand is a sign of trust.  People purchase from companies that they like and trust.  Why is this important?  Often an organization’s employees are overlooked when it comes to advocacy development. However, if you can’t “sell” your company to your employees, how do you expect customers to jump on board?

Identify Your Influencers & Your Advocates

While every employee within your organization may not be ready to advocate on your behalf, they may still have some influencing power.  An influencer can use their personal network to amplify your brand message.  Alternatively, an advocate will closely align with your company and proactively personalize, promote, and defend your brand.  Each organization has room for and needs influencers and advocates to help promote their message.

Prompting Advocacy Ain’t Easy

Often times you’ll find that your employees may only be interested in doing only the job that they were hired to do.  It’s true that turning employees into advocates creates extra work, for everyone.  However, an employee advocate is very valuable for many reasons including:

  • Recruiting new employees
  • Motivating fellow team members
  • Sharing a different perspective on your organization
  • Influencing purchasing decisions
  • Spreading the word socially about the awesome work your company is doing

5 Considerations For Creating An Employee Advocacy Program

Programs & Tools:  A formalized advocacy program will take the gray area and guess work out of what is expected (and returned) to those who wish to participate.   Some of the tools (many of which can be used for employee advocacy and customer advocacy) mentioned by Matt and Michael in their session included:

Longevity: Determine how long you will be running your advocacy program.  Is it ongoing, months, weeks?  Will everyone be invited to join or only a selected number of employees?

Motivation: Badging and gamification are great ways to motivate your team.  For those who want to engage you can even build advocacy into their job description.  This ensures that employees are not only motivated, but accountable.

Governance: There are many questions your team should ask yourself before launching an employee advocacy program including:

  • What happens when an employee advocate does the wrong thing?
  • Is there a social media policy in existence?
  • If so, are employees trained on existing policies?
  • Do  they know how to behave?
  • Are you teaching them how to share branded content the right way?

Culture: Finding the right program to motivate your team takes work.  Be sure to determine:

  • Do you have the full stakeholder support?
  • Is part of your advocate program built on on accepting feedback from employees?
  • Are you prepared to change your process if needed?

One of the biggest must-haves for an employee advocacy program is that your team believe in the work that they’re doing.  Without employee buy-in your program will not be successful.  What have you found to be most successful in motivating your team to spread the word about your brand?  What hasn’t worked?

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.


  1. I think this is a great idea and more companies and brands should see this as an investment in their employees as well. I know that I get really excited about the brand I work for when I’m out talking about the products and technology with whoever I meet.

    • Hi Jason,
      I am also one of those people that loves talking about the company I work for and the awesome work that we do. Unfortunately, a lot of employees need more structure and motivation to do the same. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. Interesting points. I have never come across any of the tools you mentioned – what are their short characteristics? What is each of them intended for?

    • Hello Sasha,
      I believe that aadvocate was built specifically for creating employee advocacy programs that track results and scrape the social web. The other 3 are more geared toward traditional advocacy programs.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Ashley – excellent post! You really captured the essence of what Matt and I were trying to communicate! Appreciate the post!

    • Thanks Michael! I know that the two of you covered so much more than employee advocacy but I thought that it could be an interesting angle for our readers. Thanks for the great content!

  4. Thank you Ashley – appreciate the shout of for Addvocate. Keep you eyes and ears open for our upcoming launch! 🙂

    • Avatar Rank Watch says

      Looking forward to your launch, Mr. Marcusnelson. Engagement of employee is surely a key point regarding the effect your business produces in the market as well as in the consumer’s mind. You don’t have to overboard to employ that technique. Just a few simple measures, laid out in this article and you will through.

  5. Buy-in is critical to the success of any employee program including advocacy, mentoring, and training. Nice post!

  6. Good article that raises awareness about how you can turn employees into advocates. Employees can be turned into advocates to achieve a variety of goals, including brand advocacy (top places to work, new product announce, etc) , commerce (i.e. coupon distribution, referral discounts, etc) and reputation management. The tools should include the ability to manage individual employee performance, measure their social reach and also include the ability to increase employee participation through rewards and gamification. *note – I work for Dynamic Signal, a social marketing platform company and we’re working with a few big brands in this topic area.

  7. Interesting article Ashley. Thanks for sharing such valuable information. I do believe that employees are key in helping advocate for a brand or product, and implementing a program to help them do it, is a great idea.

  8. A very well written article Ashley. Just updated my knowledge on how employees can be turned into advocates. I am very fortunate to work with Synechron where all the above mentioned points are given priority by our CEO Faisal Husian. Employees play a key role in advocating a brand and implementing such programs is a great idea.

  9. This is a timely article – thanks Ashley for the mention. While we have our major focus on customer advocacy at Influitive, many of our B2B customers are extending their program into the employee, partner and developer realms. The case for employee advocacy is powerful, as they help organize recruiting and social media efforts in a fun, engaging way.

  10. Definitely going to become a large trend in 2013 as marketers start to be able to measure digital influence more. The way we see it at Elevate is that your employees embody the brand of the company they work for and if they honestly want to share content on behalf of their company, then it’s as authentic as a company can be in social media.

    We find right now the largest hurdle to companies getting started is believing that employees actually want to help spread positive news about their company.