The Dangers of Employee Advocacy

Before I get into the dangers, let’s first understand what employee advocacy is. It’s getting employees involved in amplifying your organization’s brand message through their own personal and social networks. They can share company news, success stories and promotions. Many companies have a social media program to engage consumers such as initiatives that drive the number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers. Taking it even further, they can track their most engaged fans and followers and get them involved in their promotions. Now, companies are realizing that the employees, beyond the marketing team, can also bring value to their social marketing strategy.

It sounds great, right? Who wouldn’t want their employees out there advocating for the brand? Well, I don’t want to name anybody, but think for a moment about a company that you absolutely hate, or a place you would never want to work. Now, picture yourself working there as an employee and being told that you now need to participate in an employee advocacy program to promote the products or services. Just think about it. Now, I know this is an extreme example, but I hope it illustrates my point: Not every organization is ready for an employee advocacy program. If they build one prematurely, it may backfire. There are also dangers even if the organization is ready for such a program. For example, it may not genuinely connect with how employees want to promote the brand or what they want to promote. Each employee is different and can uniquely contribute to the advocacy program.  In my book, The Brandful Workforce – How Employees Can Make, Not Break Your Brand, I address these issues and much more. I describe six channels through employees can help the brand; it’s not just about employee advocacy but the entire organization and setting the right business foundation and internal culture that will naturally be excited about an advocacy program.

Does your company have a successful employee advocacy program? I’d love to hear about it. For previous posts on The Brandful Workforce, click here.