Employees are your best advocates

Companies are always on the lookout for ways to spread the word about their brand – through media hits, influencers and the like. We often spend a lot of time on external audiences, but the truth is that some of the best advocates are often sitting right under your nose, within the walls of your own company.

Employees know your company better than anyone and in turn can speak to it better than anyone. An employee who is passionate about where they work and what they do is contagious – it makes others curious as to what’s so great about the place. So, how can you turn your employees into your biggest advocates?

Step 1: Make them want to be advocates. This sounds like common sense, but there’s a lot more to that advice than meets the eye. In order for your employees to go out and spread the word, they actually have to want to do so. Of course, they have to like the actual work they’re doing, but what else contributes to workplace happiness? Culture. Fostering a culture that’s creative, fun and educational will not only keep employees loyal but also more likely to share their positive experiences.

Part of culture is hiring the right people. At SHIFT, for example, we like to make sure our hires align with all of our core values. This helps create a smart, supportive workplace that everyone likes being a part of. Once the right people are in place, there are ways to enhance the culture. Establish a training program that helps build employee skills. Set up a mentor program that allows junior staff to partner more senior members that will help guide them through their career. Have a strong internal communications program that helps tie your office – or multiple offices if you have more than one location – together via things like internal newsletters. And of course, don’t forget the fun stuff. Things like in-office happy hours and summer outings are all ways to reward employees for their hard work day-in-day-out.

Step 2: Empower employees to be advocates. After you create a great environment for your employees, it’s time to empower your employees to be advocates. For example, networking is a great way employees can get out and talk to others about their company. This can be beneficial for both new business and recruiting purposes. Reimburse employees for attending networking events rather than making the pay out of pocket; this encourages them to speak on behalf of the agency when attending events. After the event, encourage them to share their experiences with the rest of the office.

Outside of networking, why not invite employees to create content based on what they’re passionate about? Is there someone in your office who loves SEO? Give them the tools and resources they need to create a 3-minute video on an SEO-specific topic, or ask them to write a blog post on their favorite industry related topic. At the end of the day, someone will be more likely to share something they helped create.

Step 3: Encourage employees to share. Sometimes all it takes to get employees to talk about what you’re doing is a little nudge. Remind employees of the great work going on the company; make them hyper-aware of the content that exists and what’s being created. You can use a weekly newsletter or an employee social network like Yammer to provide updates. Draft a number of tweets for people to easily share around internal events, new products, blog posts, etc. – that way if they’re having a busy day, at the very minimum they can at the copy and paste to share with their networks.

These three steps will help transform your employees into advocates, but remember, it begins with the company itself. If your work environment is hostile and unwelcoming, you’re going to have a very hard time getting employees to go out and champion a place where they dislike spending their time. Maintain a positive culture while also empowering and encouraging employees, and they’ll likely share their love without even asking them too. Yes, external advocates are still important, but some of your best cheerleaders are sitting right next to you every day.