Word-of-mouth marketing drives £5 trillion in annual spending worldwide. That’s a big number. The question to ask, then, is this:

Are you encouraging your employees to advocate for your brand?

If not, you’re missing a trick. Your employees can be a powerful aide in supporting and growing your business. Sure, your website, blog, and other marketing efforts are critical for building authority and brand awareness, but you’ve also got an untapped resource in your employees.

Afterall, you’ve already done the hard work in hiring and training them, so why not help them claim bragging rights, too?

Here are seven ways to turn your employees into brand advocates.

#1 Create an open, trusting culture

It’s easier for your employees to be advocates for your company when they trust and understand it.

If you’re squirreling away strategic objectives and trying to give staff the minimal amount of information necessary, you’ll make them feel unloved. Consequently, work will feel more like ‘just another nine-to-five job’ than something they love and want to invest themselves in.

With the right strategy, however, an open, happy culture is right around the corner.

#2 Encourage employees to advocate for your brand

Encouraging your staff to advocate for your brand shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s also important to create a dialogue with staff so you can learn about what factors encourage brand loyalty.

To help encourage employees, consider:

  • Offering to pay for staff to attend events. (It takes an especially dedicated employee to attend events and preach about work in their own time.)
  • Creating great content that is easy to share on social media and encourage staff to share it if they like it.
  • Asking your staff want kind of content they’d like the company to create, and what kind of content they’d be more likely to share. Working with HR to build a consistent dialogue will help.

Of course, your messaging needs to remain on brand and target your clients first and foremost, but if it doesn’t detract from your social strategy, also consider what your staff would like to see (and share).

Download our human resources cheat sheet here

#3 Set an example and be the biggest brand advocate

It’s leadership 101 – never ask your tribe to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself.

Ask yourself: are you currently a brand advocate for your own business?

If not, don’t expect anyone else to fall in line and advocate for the business, either. If you’re not making the effort, why should they?

To remedy this, you need to showcase your investment in your own company to others. Excitement is contagious. Get excited about the work you’re doing, and others will likely follow suit.

Maybe this means posting in a Slack channel about how proud you are of the team, or it means trying to encourage staff to collaborate on business development and direction. Whatever it is, it’s up to you as business owner to ensure staff feel valued enough to advocate for the business.

#4 Give your staff something to advocate for

If your business is in the doldrums, it’s going to be an uphill struggle to encourage brand advocates.

You must do what you can to give your staff something to be excited for and shout about.

Maybe it’s something financial like rewarding excellent performance, something fun like a summer party, or something exciting like an innovative new project.

#5 Measure the results

It’s hard to know what’s working and what isn’t if you don’t track results. In business, KPI’s are everything. So, track KPIs carefully, and to improve your results, incentivise staff to bring in new business.

To incentivize your staff effectively, you need to focus on what excites them. Maybe that’s a free gym membership or maybe that’s a free Amazon kindle – find what your staff love, and then double-down on it so they’re motivated to advocate for your brand.

#6 Teach your staff the skills

To be a great brand advocate, it helps to give your staff the tools and skills they need to help them promote the company in their own way.

This might include things like:

  • Provide tools to help your staff share high-quality content. For example, let your staff use company photography equipment at a work event so they can take great photos.
  • Offer in-depth courses to those who are interested. A social media marketing course or a photography course could turn an employee into the best brand advocate you could hope for.

#7 Don’t be a control freak

Pushing your staff into becoming brand advocates is perhaps the best way to put them off doing it. Also, don’t dictate what they want to share.

Trust your employees to present your brand in a positive light and only get involved if you feel what they’re doing is damaging or seriously misrepresenting your business.

Save money and grow your business with brand advocates

Building a powerful brand is easier when you let your employees do some of the lifting.

It’s a great way to save money (brand-building can be expensive), and it will also help you develop a stronger culture as everyone pitches in to share what they love about your business.

But there’s more to developing a great culture than getting your employees on side. For more on building a successful culture and HR department, download our guide below.

Download our human resources cheat sheet here