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Employee advocacy: making employees your biggest fans

Social media posts by employees can drive significantly higher engagement than a brand’s own posts. But where does the boundary lie between voluntary and employer-mandated posting?

Employee’s voices on social media are much better trusted than their organisation’s, driving organisations, such as games developer EA, to recruit their employees as online spokespeople.

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EA introduced a campaign of employee advocacy in 2014 as part of its efforts to strengthen its company culture and build its ability to find future talent, where employees were encouraged to connect with each other and interact publicly on social media.

Jenn Ribeiro, global employer brand manager for EA, said that putting trust in employees to represent the brand helped to strengthen their sense of belonging.

She said: “Where once employees felt like they worked for EA, now they felt like they were EA.” 

According to IT company Cisco, employee posts generate eight times as much engagement (likes, clicks, or retweets, for example) as their employers’ posts do.

EA’s employees have significantly increased the brand’s online presence through the scheme, generating 6,600 online engagements per month for the company, and allowing it to reach an extra 1.1 million followers.

Online employee advocacy may be a powerful tool for building an organisation’s online presence, but employers should be careful not to pressure employees into taking on an extra load, warned Angela O’Connor, founder and CEO of consultancy The HR Lounge.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “I am lnot fond of the attempts of some to push employees into the role of brand ambassadors, which I have seen in a number of organisations.”

Some brands, she said, cynically use people from protected characteristics to promote their company online in order to demonstrate their worthiness when it comes to diversity.

Such efforts, O’Connor added, often backfire when candidates that join a company find themselves having a very different experience to that which was advertised.

“Genuine brand ambassadorship, which comes from employees without requests from employers, can be powerful,” she said.

“For example, I love seeing the HR teams who are at the HR Excellence awards talk about their experience, their pride in their teams and their joy at being recognised for great work. That’s real, it feels genuine, and will have a positive impact.”