Fostering A Culture of Employee Advocacy

Fostering A Culture Of Employee Advocacy In Retail

One white whale of opportunity that I see in much of Retail is to allow employees the freedom (and guidelines) to advocate on a brand’s behalf. I recently read this amazing article by Ben Donkor on LinkHumans – “A Kickstart Guide To Employee Advocacy In Social Media”. This, literally, gives the reader the steps and policies for building a program that manages and supports your team using Social Media to advocate for and help grow your brand and brand loyalty!

Employees want to support the growth of the brand but are tentative to share information for a number of reasons:
-There is no formal policy around it
-They have been told that they aren’t allowed
-They don’t believe in the product or brand

Here are some great stats to from Social Chorus on how employees feel about Employee Advocacy:
-93% of employees say they will make good advocates for the brand
-87% of employees see career benefits from professional social sharing
-94% of employees want to hear about what’s going on from leadership
-86% of employees would feel more engaged if they knew more about what was going on

Here are some stats from “Leadership” about their role in company communications:
-68% of executives say they do a “very good” job at communications (psssttt…only 21% of employees agree)
-99% of managers admit that the company would benefit if they did a better job at communications

Here is an great infographic from Tiffani Allen as posted on Ciceron on Employee Advocacy. Employee advocacy builds trust with consumers. Not only does it build trust with the customer but it elevates employee engagement and the happiness in the workplace. Employees feel trusted and empowered when it is encouraged.

Why aren’t all Retail Organizations on board with employees sharing? I believe that retailers need to support this initiative with spelling out a policy for for social sharing. Companies needs to embrace being transparent in their business and communicate with their employees to such a high-level that the employees, when they communicate with customers, have credibility, knowledge, and trust in their executives and their brand.

I was told by a CEO (in the past 13 months) that people “only complain on social media”. It isn’t of value for driving traffic or encouraging customer growth. It wasn’t worth the effort or the manpower. WOW! This is an attitude that is setting that particular company up for disaster and a short window of relevance in retail.

“A confident employee voice emanates from a real understanding of, and ability to, communicate the value of your product to customers. Genuine and transparent conversations occur when employees speak in their own voices, accurately and without hesitation.” – Cynthia Pflaum

It’s my opinion that there is a level of burden that retailers feel is attached to employee advocacy and that is something else they would have to “manage”. That is not the case at all. It is something that should be trained and encouraged from their start date (heck – you should even want your customers to advocate on your behalf [the best brands already have this happening]).

Here are some of the basics to creating content for your employees to share:

-When creating and sharing company content that you would like your advocates to share, answer four W’s for employees:
(1)What should I share?
(2) Why should I share it?
(3) When should I share it?
(4) Where should I share it?

-Add an Employee Advocacy module to the new hire onboarding program
(1) This allows one-on-one training
(2) Sharing of the policy, process, and guidelines around this program
(3) Comprehensive management and periodic re-skilling sessions
(4) Have your strongest (most proficient advocates partner with people who are challenged in this area)

-Communicate results that show progress of the program or initiative
As with all programs – it is easy for the employees to become disengaged or lose momentum when there is no communication around the process
(1) Connect employee contributions and initiatives to your business results consistently
(2) Establish desired results in aggregate and in individual performance and discuss actual results of both to encourage team effort and employee contribution

Assuming your retail organization is strong in delivering outstanding customer experience through personal interactions at the store level and a focus on metrics through great service levels, you use that focus, passion, and commitment from your team through social channels. Your best, most productive, engaged, and enthusiastic employees will also be your best Employee Advocates on Social Media. Remember 93% of employees think they would make great advocates…the remaining 7% aren’t interested in your brand, your company, your success…they aren’t, likely, posting anything – good or bad about your company.

No matter how far your content reaches on your retail company’s social media pages – imagine how much further it can go if your employees share it – how much larger can your market become? Think of how this can elevate your brand recognition and influence!

Here is a great blog post about “Social Media Guidelines For Your Employees” but…they will follow your lead. Distribute great content and great content will be shared.



Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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