Brand Advocacy ~ 13 min

Brand Advocacy: What It Means, and Why You Need to Implement It

Brand advocacy is a marketing technique that’s been proven to be highly effective, yet is still widely underused. In this article, learn what the term means, and how your company can use the enthusiasm of satisfied customers—and employees—to spread positive brand awareness.

What is brand advocacy? How does it work? And most importantly, is it actually effective? If you work in the marketing or communications sector, there’s a good chance you’ve pondered these very questions. And in this blog post, we’ll not only explain what brand advocacy is—we’ll show that it works extremely well when it comes to spreading positive brand awareness. It’s an effective marketing tool, and one that virtually every company can benefit from.

What is brand advocacy?

Much of the marketing efforts that companies put out center around brand-generated content and paid media. A TV commercial, for example, or an online ad. This technique is costly, both in terms of production and media spend, but it’s the way businesses have traditionally relied on spreading brand awareness and a positive brand image.

Brand advocacy, on the other hand, takes a different, more organic approach. It relies on real, authentic, satisfied customers to spread via word-of-mouth their positive reviews and impressions of the brand, thus generating positive brand awareness. This could mean two parents discussing the merits of a particular breakfast cereal for their children in a supermarket aisle, or it could mean a tech consultant who had a positive experience with a software vendor tweeting about it to their community of followers.

And the power of brand advocacy is that it works. All statisticians and marketers seem to agree on the fact that word of mouth recommendations are by far the most effective ones. According to a recent study, 72% of people get news from friends and family, making word of mouth the most popular channel for sharing. According to another study, 83% of Americans say that word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or family members make them more likely to purchase a product or service. In short, people trust other people—not logos.

brand advocacy stats

What is a brand advocate? Why and how is it important?

So what specifically does it mean to be a brand advocate then? Well, a brand advocate is a customer or client of a brand who is extremely satisfied with their experience and actively promotes it to others. As hinted at above, this can be through word-of-mouth recommendations, sharing positive experiences across social media, or giving referrals to friends and family. It could happen online, around the dinner table, or there at the retailer. Brand advocates are important because they can help to increase awareness and positive sentiment for a brand, and in doing so, influence the purchasing decisions of their peers.

For example: if a friend tells you about a great experience they had with a certain brand of toothpaste, you are more likely to consider purchasing that brand the next time you need toothpaste. This is why it’s important for businesses to focus on creating a network of the best brand advocates who will actively recommend the brand to others. This can be done through great customer service, discounts and other incentives for referrals, and by creating an overall experience that leaves customers feeling satisfied and eager to share that. The most straightforward way is the last one: just offer a fantastic customer experience via a great product. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t extra steps a company can take to recruit and encourage brand advocates.

What is the difference between brand advocacy and employee advocacy?

There’s a good chance you’ve heard both terms bandied about, and you may have wondered how they differ. They sound similar enough, don’t they? Well, that’s probably because the concept of brand advocacy and the concept of employee advocacy are similar, in that they both involve promoting a brand through the positive experiences and “word of mouth” recommendations of satisfied customers or employees to increase brand visibility. However, there are some key differences between the two marketing strategies that need to be taken into account.

First of all, brand advocacy refers to the promotion of a brand by satisfied customers. This can mean customers sharing positive experiences on social media, providing referrals to friends and family, or simply telling others about the brand. The constant here is that the brand advocates are people who have purchased the product or service as clients of the brand.

Employee advocacy, on the other hand, refers to the promotion of a brand by satisfied employees. This can involve employees sharing positive experiences about the brand on their personal social media accounts, as well as recommending the brand to friends and family. Obviously, there may be a bit of overlap because many employees also do use the products and services offered by their employers. They can be both paid employees and customers.

The second difference between the two is that brand advocacy is often incentivized, while employee advocacy is typically voluntary. This means that businesses and employers may provide rewards to encourage customers to become brand advocates, while employees generally choose to become brand advocates because they are passionate about the company and its general mission.

Overall, both brand advocacy and employee advocacy are important for increasing positive awareness for a brand, and they can help to drive sales and improve both customer and employee retention. People want to buy the products of a company they like, and people also want to work for employers they like. Spreading the enthusiasm will encourage customers and workers alike.

what is brand advocacy

How do you develop an employee brand advocacy strategy?

If you want to get employees in on the action—that is to say, if you’d like them to participate in brand advocacy as well, alongside customers—there are a few steps you can take to facilitate and encourage employee advocacy. These are the keys to unlocking advocacy success:

For starters, you want to create a positive work environment where employees feel safe, supported, appreciated, and listened to by their employers. There needs to be opportunities for personal and professional growth as well, so that they know that the company is interested in their long-term development. Think about it this way: how an employee feels about their company is often a direct reflection of how the company feels about the employee. Your workforce will hold your organization in high regard, and be willing to promote it, if they in turn feel that their well-being is held in high regard, and that they are supported.

Beyond creating a positive work environment, however, you also need to give employees the communication tools and encouragement they need to help them to share their feelings regarding their employers. This can include a digital communication platform with employee advocacy functions built in, to make it easy for them to share across their networks, and to also reward them for doing so.

This combination—of creating a positive work environment of support and growth, and then backing it up with the right tools and encouragement to bolster sharing—are the two pillars of an employee brand advocacy strategy. If you nail both of them, employees will share their enthusiasm and pride with their online peers—and maybe real-world friends as well.


What are the benefits of employee brand advocacy for a company?

So, we know that employees can be brand advocates for a company too—it’s not just for consumers. But what are the specific benefits a company can expect to receive if their employees become brand ambassadors and begin sharing their thoughts and feelings regarding where they work? Here are three of the positive outcomes that can arise when employee brand advocacy is implemented by employers.

Authenticity

Employee brand advocacy will help to boost the perception of the company as real, or authentic, because it’s coming directly from those who would know best: the people who work there. If employees are thrilled to work at a company and proud of the products or services they offer, then it speaks volumes about the kind of organization that employs them.

Increased employee engagement

Another benefit of brand advocacy initiatives is that they increase employee engagement across the board. If employees are actively sharing company content across their social networks, it means that they are engaged with company news. They know what’s going on at their organization, but also within their sector, and their industry as a whole. Employees who are not proud of where they work are generally the opposite—they are not involved with what’s going on around them, or aware of which direction the business is headed.

Innovation and creativity

It’s only natural: when employees are encouraged to speak up and share their ideas, or their thoughts on new products or initiatives, they’re going to spur discussion, collaboration, and innovation. Employee brand advocacy can be the spark that ignites game-changing ideas in this regard. Their feedback, whether shared publicly or not, can help companies and employers to fine-tune policies and organizational structures to make the business function better.


How to deploy employee brand advocacy on social media?

As mentioned, the vehicle most commonly used today for employee brand advocacy is social media. It’s how people share in the digital age, and this applies to work-related issues too. Here are a few tips that will allow you to more effectively deploy an employee brand advocacy program via social media channels.

Provide relevant company content

Employee advocacy is most effective on social media. But that means employees creating and sharing content across their networks, with their community of followers. This can include company news, updates, new hires, new products—any of this that comes directly from their employers.

To accomplish this, it helps to provide content and content elements directly to employees that make it easy for them to share. With the Sociabble platform for example, employees can create their own content (UGC) in a variety of formats—gifs, videos, audio, visual—and share it effortlessly across all their social media networks with just a few clicks. They can also have access to a company media library that puts ready-to-use content elements right at their fingertips.

Develop employees’ thought leadership

Obviously, employee advocacy will be more effective if they are seen as thought leaders. That is to say, if they have a more robust online profile and presence, and if they have a loyal follower base. When employees are regarded as experts in their field, offering sage and useful advice, people will listen to what they have to say. This should be one of their primary goals.

Providing employees with curated content and analytics to monitor their success is a strong step in the right direction. Sociabble comes with curated content options to help provide ambassadors with a steady stream of relevant industry content they can share, as well as a full package of data analytics, so that performance can be monitored and actions adjusted for maximum audience engagement. It essentially comes with the tools employees need to become thought leaders in their field.

brand advocacy quote

Choose the right employee advocacy tool

It’s crucial for employers to establish clear guidelines for employee advocacy via social media to make sure that employees are representing the company in the proper light, and within established parameters. This might include best practice training for generating social media engagement, and providing employees with content that’s already been approved for sharing.

Sociabble is a safe and secure employee advocacy platform, as it enables the sharing of content that employers decide to provide employees. Administrators can target a specific audience for a specific piece of content. For example, a product launch happening in a country can be made visible and shareable only to employees in the relevant market. All content that’s shared can easily be targeted by office, region, team, department, even language—effectively ensuring that exactly the right people are sharing exactly the right information.

brand advocacy tool


How to measure employee brand advocacy?

But how do you know if it’s actually working? If you’re reaching your goals? Without some form of measurement, there’s no way to be sure the employee advocacy is achieving a tangible result. And there are two areas of measurement to help generate success.

One way is to focus on the employees themselves—essentially, making sure they’re in a good position to act as ambassadors of the company before assisting them with content. And this can be accomplished with surveys or questionnaires. Are they willing to talk about the company with their community of followers? Do they feel pride and satisfaction regarding their role at the company? Doing this is easy via Sociabble’s survey feature, which makes it simple for admins to generate and send out targeted surveys and questionnaires with just a few clicks, with the option of making the responses anonymous to encourage honesty.

brand advocacy feature

The second way to measure employee advocacy is by directly monitoring social media activity versus established goals. This means looking at the number, reach, and source of posts, comparing engagement levels, and adjusting the content to maximize engagement. For example: if the data shows that people are responding more to video content than text-based shares, then a new focus on gifs and videos should be implemented. Sociabble makes all of this possible via its many analytics features. Not only can you do all of the above, you can also get feedback on the general tone of comments, and even see the equivalent paid media that is saved via employee advocacy—effectively, how much money was saved for impressions by having employees share versus a traditional media spend. Sociabble will calculate those numbers for you.


Sociabble, the easy and effective platform for your brand advocacy program

The Sociabble communication platform is the perfect tool for deploying an employee brand advocacy program because it is designed to accomplish and facilitate all of the steps described above—helping you to create employee ambassadors who are informed, engaged, and influential online. We’ve already helped industry leaders like Primark, L’Occitane, Renault Group, and Coca-Cola CCEP with their communications, just to name a few.

Sign up for a free personalized Sociabble demo and find out how we can help you!