Advocacy drives earned media, and as growing earned media coverage should be part of every content marketing strategy, how to drive advocacy should also be top of mind for every marketer. Earned media builds awareness and establishes brand trust, so the sharing of content via earned media (beyond your owned and paid media) is what opens up exponential growth in awareness, engagement, and customers. What is advocacy, and how does it enable earned media? Advocates are customers, prospects or stakeholders who willingly share their personal endorsement of a product or service, often by recommending it to their network. This kind of public endorsement is earned based on an advocate’s good experience and level of satisfaction. By successfully identifying and engaging with potential advocates, and then activating them successfully, it is possible to attract and engage more of the right kinds of customers, prospects and stakeholders very efficiently, and at scale via earned media. Advocacy extends your brand reach, builds more brand awareness, strengthens a brand’s positioning, and can also increase loyalty of existing customers. Employees are your organisation’s most important stakeholders. Being able to successfully activate employees as advocates should deliver great reach and outcomes from earned media via employees’ networks. Advocacy from employees in particular should build strong levels of trust in your organisation, brand and products – relatively rapidly. People trust people they know more than they trust ‘faceless’ businesses, so your employees’ public endorsements of your organisation or brand (e.g. via social media) will help you activate earned media in a way that other marketing techniques won’t be able to. Make advocating easy for your employees Employees have the audience and trust of their peers. Harnessing that power of social media for your company means that your employees need to get involved. Here’s how you can help them: Provide ready-made banners for employees to add to their social media profiles. Tag employees in social posts so they see the posts and can easily like or share. When you have posted something on social media that you would like your employees to share, send them the specific link to the post via email or your internal messaging app. Provide software for your employees that makes advocating quick and easy. Examples include: Oktopost Post Beyond Smarp DSMN8 Consider starting a dedicated employee advocacy programme We recommend trialling your employee advocacy programme with your most highly engaged employees initially before pushing it out company-wide. This allows you to test the process and iron out any issues. Here are the steps to start an advocacy programme: Set objectives for your advocacy programme. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely), and should support the strategic marketing goals of building brand awareness and positioning your brand in the best way. Create content that can easily be shared by your employees – whether that be social posts, blog content, podcasts, or videos, you need to be able to create and publish a steady flow of content that your employees will want to share as the content is relevant and valuable to their networks. Set sharing guidelines. Providing a short list of ‘dos and don’ts’ will give your employees confidence to share more as they will feel comfortable about what they’re sharing. You should also communicate to your employees the benefits of sharing content and practical considerations for how they get hold of the content. Provide training for employees on how to use social media and how best to advocate for your organisation and brand, should they wish to do so. Share content ideas with your employees on the kinds of things to post and share. Measure the value of your earned media – once your employees have started sharing the content, you can measure the success from your employees’ efforts. Compare them back to your initial KPIs and SMART goals. Compare how this introduction has increased your revenue or sales. Employee advocacy is generally overlooked as a great opportunity to slot something compelling and impactful into your marketing. Those who pay attention to this area and execute on employee advocacy well should find their efforts help them stand out from competitors – achieving the all important ‘cut through’ that is so precious in the attention economy of today.