“Awareness is fine, but advocacy will take your business to the next level.” That quote by Joe Tripodi, Coca-Cola’s CMO, pretty much sums up the success of the 135 -year-old beverage. Developed in 1835 by a wounded Confederate colonel, Coca-Cola has continued to dominate the soft drink industry.

The brand embraces employee advocacy and input. In June, its CEO, James Quincy, led a “Stand as One” employee discussion at which employees were encouraged to share their questions and experiences about the George Floyd death, hate crimes, and inequity. Examples like this and earlier articles about employee advocacy point to this becoming an even more powerful force.

Need to convince senior management about the power of employee advocacy? Software platform company EveryoneSocial published a list last November of what is considered the top ten examples of employee advocacy companies in the U.S. Most were tech and e-commerce firms like Zappos, Genesys, and Dell. Still, the list also included other familiar names like Starbucks, Reebok, and Electronic Arts.

In measuring the impact of employee advocacy, three areas should be measured and considered. They are retention, revenue, and reputation. All are important drivers for ROI.

Engagement

Nothing drives up a brand’s reputation, like happy employees. There’s an authenticity attached to that that no advertising can buy. That’s why actions like mass employee walkouts over racial injustice or an employer selling beds to immigration detention centers can have an extremely negative and long-lasting effect on consumers, particularly the younger ones, who have expressed concerns over brand values and ethics.

It doesn’t have to take major actions like the above to motivate employees to take to social media to make a statement. Brands with content workers need only publish something and ask their employees to share it on their social media platforms.

Three-fourths of those responding to Everyone Social said they would share or create their own content on something their employer produced. The real power is the social reach when workers advocate. EveryoneSocial discovered that reach to be as much as 561% more. Plus, 79% of the brands polled reported more online visibility after launching a formal employee advocacy program.

Drive Leads

Sales and HR departments also benefit from formal employee advocacy programs by getting more leads. Positive reviews on platforms like Glassdoor will appeal to new prospects seeking employers with healthy and vibrant employee programs. Similarly, glowing reviews can help drive more leads to the sales department.

Savings

A healthy employee advocacy program may also save time and resources for the HR, sales, and marketing departments. Encouraging employees to share their feelings on social and other channels will be an asset to HR. And positive comments and reviews by employees not only bring credible insider information into play but can also shorten the sales cycle.

Employee and Customer Retention

Just as customer turnover can be a costly burden, so, too can high employee attrition rates. EveryoneSocial estimated that it could cost up to $15,000 in recruitment efforts to replace an employee earning $45,000 annually. Happy employees are less likely to leave. That same feeling of contentment positively affects customers, and those prospective clients employees are in touch with.

Brand Purpose

Marketing must be sure that the company’s brand purpose is carried over into all its social platforms and website and shared with HR, so employees are acutely aware of this as well. Communicating social impact on its community is particularly important as brands emerge from the pandemic and again resume making more and larger purchasing decisions. Of those polled, 64% of marketers agreed with EveryoneSocial.

Measure

As with all successful programs, establish benchmarks for these attributes and measure them regularly so that changes and improvements may be made, when needed. And be sure to share all the progress, not just with consumers and the community, but also with employees.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.