#ContentWritingChat, employee brand advocates

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How Employee Brand Advocates Are the Missing Piece of Your Content Marketing Puzzle with Erika Heald

If you’re running a company, do you have employees that are advocates for your brand?

Or perhaps you are the brand advocate for the company you’re working for?

Either way, employee brand advocates play a huge role in companies today as they become the face of brands and help in establishing a content marketing strategy overall.

But how can you be sure this advocate relationship is a successful one? Well, that’s what we discussed in this round of #ContentWritingChat!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How Employee Brand Advocates Are the Missing Piece of Your Content Marketing Puzzle with Erika Heald

Our guest host for this month’s chat was Erika Heald. Erika is a start-up content strategist, as well as a marketing consultant. She’s also the host of a weekly Twitter chat, #ContentChat, on Mondays at 3 PM Eastern.

Q1: What exactly is an employee brand advocate and what purpose do they serve?

New to the concept of employee brand advocates? No worries! We asked our chat participants to share their view on what exactly this role is and the purpose it serves for companies worldwide. Here are a few of the responses:

As Erika said, employee brand advocates are those who have received training and tools to step up and share content about the brand they work for. Ideally, you want advocates who truly support you and are excited about your brand because their genuine enthusiasm will show through when they represent you online.

An advocate is someone who works for the brand, shares brand content regularly, engages with the brand content, and they create their own content about the brand as well. Those in this role can help expand reach for the brand, thus generating more traffic and leads.

Gaby mentioned that all employees are brand advocates. Whenever you work for a company, you have to be aware of your actions (especially online) because you’re representing those you work for. Advocates help to share the brand’s story, build trust, and so much more.

Like Brandie said, look at advocates like a brand’s biggest cheerleaders. It makes a huge difference when everyone sees that you have happy employees.

Q2: How can you encourage employees to step up and become effective advocates for your brand?

If you’re running a company and want to get serious about creating an employee advocacy program, you might be wondering where to begin. These tips will help you encourage your employees to step into this role:

Erika’s first piece of advice is let your employees know that you’d like them to become advocates for the brand. From there, provide them with the tools and guidelines they need to understand what this role looks like so they can move forward confidently.

If you have someone in mind that would make a great advocate, sit down and talk to them! As Lexie said, you can’t expect employees to just step up to the role. Mention it and see how they feel about the idea.

Gaby’s advice is to equip, educate, and encourage your employee brand advocates. Make sure they fully understand what this means for them and the brand overall and provide them with everything they need to do the job successfully.

It’s important to make it easy! A training session can be a huge help when just getting started with your advocacy program.

Bill suggests encouraging employees to share the content the brand produces, especially if they know their audience would be interested. It’s simple, but helps to generate more traction for the content.

But one of the most important factors in securing employee advocates? It’s crucial that you have built a company culture that people truly love and are happy to be part of.

Q3: How do you identify individuals that will make great employee brand advocates? What characteristics are important to look for?

If you’re trying to narrow down some great advocates for your brand, these are some of the key characteristics you’ll want to consider:

First, Erika suggests looking to those on your team that are currently enthusiastic social media users. They are already well versed in the platforms and would be more comfortable stepping into the role over someone who doesn’t use social media. She also feels it’s important to make this a voluntary position. Don’t force employees to become advocates for your brand.

It helps to have advocates that are enthusiastic about the brand and genuinely care about the product/service you offer. When they speak about you, it’ll come so much more naturally this way.

Find advocates who live your company values every single day!

Gaby said ideal employee brand advocates have qualities such as passion, understanding, trustworthiness, and resourcefulness.

Q4: What should employees know when they’re representing your brand online?

As an advocate, there are some very important things you need to keep in mind when. Here are some of the most important ones straight from the chat:

Erika said that advocates need to know the ideal channels to use in order to reach the target audience. She suggests companies help employees to know the right messages, current product details, and more to ensure they do a good job.

As Jeremy pointed out, all advocates also need to know the brand’s overall vision and mission. After all, that’s what they’re representing.

Lexie’s advice of providing employees with guidelines for advocacy is crucial. It lets them know what to expect and what’s acceptable, as well as what’s not.

Employees should know what’s okay to share, where and how to share content, and which tools can make the job easier.

And Jennifer brought up a a great point that employees should always be aware that they need to represent the brand in the best light online.

Bill said advocates should be aware of visual standards that the brand has, topics to engage in and which ones to avoid, and resources to utilize.

As an advocate, you’re held to a high standard as you represent a brand online and offline. Keep that in mind before you post anything.

Q5: But how does brand advocacy play a role in your content marketing?

The great thing about having a team of employee brand advocates is that it can truly help your company in the long run. Here’s how it can shape your content marketing:

Advocates can really be beneficial when it comes to content distribution and searching for user-generated content. Pay attention to which advocates have the most engaged audience and which platforms are performing well for them so you know where to focus on posting.

Remember that someone who follows your employee could ultimately follow your brand. Having that connection with someone from the brand establishes trust and could become a potential lead.

Gaby feels advocates are a great way to tell your brand’s story. It’s authentic and gives you greater reach to a wider audience.

Have your advocates keep an eye out for user-generated content that be shared from various platforms too!

Q6: How can you get your employee brand advocates to contribute?

Getting employees involved doesn’t have to be hard. These ideas will help get them participating:

Erika knows that a little competition can be effective. You can create a leader board and give away fun gifts that your team would enjoy. She’s found this to work well in the past, so give it a go!

Incentives of some sort are always a winner. And let’s be real, you simply cannot go wrong with free food.

And if you want your employees to create content for you, let it be on a topic they’re passionate about. It’ll be much more enjoyable for them this way.

Q7: Which brands have done a great job at empowering their employees to become advocates?

Erika shared some examples that we can all check out and learn from:

Erika feels IBM and Dell have done a great job at empowering employees. Zappos is another company that stands out as well. She also mentioned SproutSocial and their Bambu by Sprout tool. Their team actually seems to use their tools, which is definitely a plus.

Want to join us for the next chat? #ContentWritingChat happens on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM Central. Mark your calendars, follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat, and then we’ll see you there!

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