Employee Advocacy as Your Competitive Edge

Sheridan Gaenger
February 8 ․ 11 min read

employee advocacy3 Ways Employee Advocacy Energizes Recruitment

It’s tough out there for recruiters these days—competition for qualified candidates is fierce. In fact, a whopping 90 percent of recruiters in 2015 said it was a candidate-driven market, up from just 54 percent in the second half of 2011.

Candidates have the “pick of the litter,” so to speak—but how can you make sure candidates are picking your company? By utilizing employee advocacy strategically and effectively.

Turn your own employees into your best recruiters by creating an employee advocacy program that encourages them to share content and messaging about your employer brand with their own social networks. It sounds simple, but the payoff can be huge.

Here are three ways that employee advocacy can give you a big leg up on the competition:

1. Employee Advocacy Provides All-Important Social Proof

When’s the last time you made a big purchase without consulting online product reviews first? If you’re like the majority of today’s consumers, it’s probably been awhile. We’re far more likely to trust information about a product when that information comes from a regular Joe rather than the brand itself.

Today, the same thing goes for recruiting. Candidates now look for “social proof” about a company before they take the chance to apply for an open position. Trusting employer brand messaging is a risky proposition when it comes straight from the employer itself—candidates are suspicious of marketing speak and messaging “spin.”

So how do you win over candidates in this trust-averse atmosphere? With employee advocacy. What employees have to say about a company is trusted—and shared—more than what a company has to say about itself.

According to Edelman, employees are considered more trustworthy than both CEOs and a company’s board of directors. That means that while a slew of companies may provide similar benefits, company cultures, etc.—and may tout these benefits far and wide on social media—the company with an active employee advocacy program has a distinct advantage.

Candidates will gravitate toward the company that can show proof (in the form of employee advocates) of what it’s really like to work there.

 2. Employee Advocacy Expands Your Reach

When you use employee advocacy to spread the word about your employer brand, you’ll get your message in front of far more people, in part because brand messages are shared far more often when they come from people who remind us of ourselves—a.k.a. employees—rather than big brands. Again, it goes back to the issue of trust and authenticity in employer “marketing.” In fact, brand messages are shared 24 times more frequently when they’re posted by employees versus the brands themselves, according to MSLGROUP.

But it goes far beyond the issue of trust. Activating employees into advocates to disseminate authentic messages means you get to take advantage of their already robust networks, full of candidates who are new to your brand. Consider this analysis of Cisco’s social following: Cisco’s employees had 10 times more followers than corporate accounts, with just a two percent overlap in followers. That means whenever a Cisco employee tweeted about Cisco, that message was put in front of far more eyes than a message tweeted out by Cisco itself.

Imagine the possibilities if your employer brand messaging had that kind of reach—coupled with a messenger (a.k.a. the employee advocate) who is considered inherently more trustworthy.

When you invest in an employee advocacy program that makes social sharing easy and intuitive, you increase your chances of connecting with candidates new to your brand. These candidates may never follow your corporate account on Twitter or Facebook or use traditional job boards, because they might not be actively searching for a new job. Whether they’re actively job searching or not, they’re definitely paying attention to what members of their social network have to say.

 3. Employee Advocacy Creates a Powerful Emotional Connection

Yes, employee advocacy makes it easy for employers to disseminate inherently trustworthy brand messages to a large (and largely untapped) audience … but it does something else too, something really powerful. It allows your employees to tell the story of your company — and your unique employer brand story is a huge differentiator.

In fact, at Tech.Co, Lars Schmidt posits that storytelling is the next big trend in talent acquisition, because it cuts through the noise and creates a more emotional connection with candidates.

He writes, “Software engineers want to know what it’s like to write code at your company. Marketers want to understand your [go-to-market] strategy. Success in connecting with these audiences is now driven by how you can help them understand what their role in your company looks like—and get to know their future peers.... Companies now have to find ways to humanize their culture with stories going deeper than just the employee experience.”

The best way to humanize that experience is by harnessing the power of your employee advocates by letting them use their own voices to tout the benefits of working at your company. HR departments have long been able to quantify the advantages of working at a company—by citing health and retirement benefits, robust salaries, the number of ping pong tables in the break room, etc.—but employee advocates put a face to the numbers, creating a magnetic, emotional pull for candidates.

If storytelling that tugs on emotions is the future of talent acquisition, then your own employees are the main characters. Put their stories front and center with a strategic employee advocacy program that amplifies their voices so that they can invite candidates to write the next chapter.

Employee advocacy via social media gives your employer brand a powerful way to reach candidates, one that many of us couldn’t even fathom just a decade ago. But it’s crucial that you engage employees in your strategy so that you can not only reach even more perfect-fit candidates, but connect with them on a deeper, more emotionally resonate level.

Investing in employee advocacy solutions now—before most other recruiters—will ensure you remain ahead of the competition for years to come.

Recruitment marketing to millennials