An employee does not express himself in the same way as an annual report

On 20 March, 2024
4 min
annual report and employee

 

Until recently (in the old world of the twentieth century), talking about the company was the prerogative of communications. Employee advocacy did not exist. Of course, employees had their own views on their company, talked about it to their friends and family, and that was that. The impact on the company's reputation was so diluted as to be invisible.

Then people started to express themselves on their own media, blogs and social networks. Companies quickly understood the stakes. So did their customers.

Some became isolated. What's inside must not circulate outside. Everything goes through marketing, approved by the legal department. Confidentiality clauses invade employment contracts. And employees who are too spontaneous are more or less kindly dismissed. In fact, it is in the "most modern" companies, such as the GAFAs, that the seal of secrecy is the strictest. Employees are expected to keep quiet about anything that might challenge the company's purpose: "to make the world a better place". At the risk of being taken to court. It's better to keep your feelings to yourself when you're working in an Amazon hangar or at a Facebook supplier.

What is employee advocacy?

Other companies, no doubt inspired by the "activists" of the Cluetrain Manifesto, felt that preventing this was illusory and counter-productive. In the end, letting employees have a voice about their company could help to recruit talent, promote the brand, sell products and even comfort shareholders. The "I love my company" surveys confirm this: over the years, between 63% and 75% of employees say they love their company. If employees are expressing themselves on social networks, we might as well help them to do so, most of the time to the benefit of the company.

An excellent study by Vanksen, published in 2019, describes

 as "a mechanism by which a company mobilises its employees to become its ambassadors not only in their professional lives, but also in their everyday lives and particularly on social networks."

Employee advocaacy programmes support employees and encourage them to speak out. They are invited to talk about their working environment, their daily lives and their company's values. They sometimes relay content from the company's social networking sites and accounts. With Wiztrust PR, they also share press articles about the company. In fact, the press review is an excellent source of content to share. Not only do employees have access to the information published, but they can also boost the audience among their communities.

A strategy that takes many forms

Employee advocacy takes different forms. It can be more or less "orchestrated", requiring varying degrees of employee involvement. However, it always has the same objective: to make employees ambassadors for their company on social networks.

It has become a lever of external communication that should not be neglected. In 2019, content shared by employee ambassadors generated 8 times more engagement than content published by brands. Messages shared by employees have a far greater reach than the same message published on a brand channel.

This is because employees have "friends" who do not follow or know their company. So they increase the brand's exposure and communication becomes more credible.

A positive message will always be better received if it comes from an employee rather than an official press release. People's voices carry the conversation further than the company's very corporate website. Companies extend their networks and reach out to new talent. Companies with employees engaged on social networks are 58% more likely to attract top talent. Employee advocacy also boosts sales. Leads obtained through employee social marketing convert much better than others.

Even when a company is in crisis, motivated employees can come to the rescue of the company and its management. With far greater credibility.

"The pipes are already wide open. Employees don't wait for us to express themselves. Our role is to raise their awareness by explaining the mechanisms, so that on the day when there is a crisis, they have the tools and the right reflexes to express themselves", concludes Thomas Baur, Director of Digital Communications at Keolis.

How do you turn employees into ambassadors?

Best practice varies from company to company. The first question to ask is whether employees are happy with their lot and like their company. An ambassador is a channel for public opinion. Make sure that this opinion is positive before you mobilise the frustrated. That's why a little internal climate research is a good place to start.

Identify experienced social network stars, especially those who are already talking about the company in a positive way. Start with a group of volunteers. Work with them to create a strategy that will then spread throughout the company.

Focus on the long term. It's generally unproductive to force employees to become advertisers after two meetings. Train beginners. Encourage them, through training, to turn to social networks. Some don't dare publish for fear of making a mistake. Reassure them.

Offer them content in all formats, including photos, audio and video. They'll know which messages can be relayed first. Create a dynamic media library or private newsroom to which your employees have access and from which they can pick and choose. You can use tools such as Wiztrust, LinkedIn elevate, Amplify or Sociabble, which automate the process to a greater or lesser extent.

Animate the community. Highlight the best contributions and the most active ambassadors. Share their content on the company's official accounts. Create dedicated hashtags. Organise challenges. And above all, set an example. Wiztrust's LinkCom study showed that two-thirds of CEOs active on LinkedIn interacted with content posted on their company profile or posted content relating to their brand. Only two thirds?

Finally, in all cases, beware of "corporate bullshit". Even highly motivated employees do not express themselves in the same way as an annual report. Their credibility lies in their freedom of tone.

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