How Engaged Employees Can Help Protect Your Brand from ‘Fake News’
An employee advocacy program allows every employee to be a brand ambassador.
Last year the truth was challenged, changed and even disregarded. Opinions are being marketed as fact. The democratization of content distribution allows anyone to publish to the world. And social media has become a major source of news while also facing criticism for being an algorithmic-driven echo chamber.
The proliferation of fake news impacts society in many ways, and these recent developments have implications for the workplace as well. Broadly, they give us an opportunity to reexamine how we deliver information to employees, and how best to promote an organization’s mission and values. It also provides an opportunity to consider the value that highly engaged employees, who then serve as advocates for your brand, can play a pivotal role in promoting truth about your organization.
The current state of employee engagement has not kept pace with the way we communicate outside of work. Employees use social media and text, while in the workplace, email remains the default communication platform. Employers who meet their employees where they are, in terms of communication, will have a better chance at engaging employees and earning their trust.
Employees are a trusted source of information and generate authentic reach.
According to Weber Shandwick’s Employees Rising research study, 33 percent of employees are already talking about their organization on social media, even without any encouragement. If employees are already talking about where they work and what they do on social media, give them information and stories — that they know are safe to share — directly from the company.
When employers utilize digital tools to encourage employees to be the faces of their brand with concepts like employee advocacy, theoretically it should lead to engagement. If marketers increasingly believe that social media is central to their business and social companies believe that employee engagement matters, why is the number still so low?
Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek said customers will never love a brand until its employees love it first. Employee engagement doesn’t just affect service — it affects a brand’s image for potential and existing clients, as well as future employees. It affects your bottom line. In the age of social selling, when marketing has been added to the job description of every employee from junior staffer to the CEO, this has never been truer for your brand.
Using employee advocacy platforms, companies can create and distribute vetted, “safe” stories directly into the hands of employees in an engaging and shareable way. These platforms give employers a way to deliver this content into the hands of employees, via trusted channels they already use.
People are more apt to pay attention to corporate messages delivered from those in their social networks. This notion also applies to maintaining and increasing brand awareness. When employees post about the new company logo, tweet about a new funny commercial or share a marketing campaign, it humanizes the brand and gets more prospects to pay attention. In short, an employee advocacy program allows every employee to be a brand ambassador — and a much more believable brand ambassador at that.
According to 2015 Dynamic Signal research, a company communications platform, your employees are already on social all the time. The average employee engaging on social media has 10 times more followers than your corporate network and 90 percent of their social audience is new to the brand. By helping employees build that brand, rather than squelching individuality, employers build an army of very powerful advocates. Most people, when given the opportunity, will advocate for their brands when they feel good about where they work.
Engage and empower your employees with trusted information and they, in turn, will empower and help protect your brand.
Helen Lee leads Weber Shandwick’s West Coast Employee Engagement and Change Management specialty practice. Jim Nickerson is a communications strategist and employee advocacy evangelist and consults with Weber Shandwick, and was most recently the director of communications and PR for Dynamic Signal.