Have you ever wondered what makes people put bumper stickers on their car? What makes somebody care enough about something that they will slap a bumper sticker worth a few bucks on the back of their multi-thousand dollar investment?
Sure, some stickers make sense. It’s not surprising that somebody heavily involved in politics would promote their preferred candidate with a bumper sticker. But I once saw a bumper sticker on new car that read “Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest show of all time.” I’m not too familiar with the show, but it astounded me that somebody would care enough about it to put this message on their car for everyone to see.
That’s the power of brand advocacy. If you create something meaningful, people will go out of their way to promote it. Just think of how many Apple logos you’ve seen featured on cars over the years. That kind of brand advocacy makes a huge impact, and it’s what every company should strive for.
If you’re an HR professional, ask yourself this: Are your employees brand advocates? Hopefully they are to some extent, but there’s always room for improvement. With that in mind, here are 5 things HR can do right now to encourage brand advocacy:
1. Be worth advocating. Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. People will not be advocates for their company if they don’t love it. If the culture isn’t just right, they won’t fully commit to growing it. They’ll do their job, but anything outside of that is a no-go. Build a culture that your people can believe in. Treat them fair and with care. Make sure they feel valued. If you don’t do this, they will never be the kind of brand advocate that really makes a difference.
2. Encourage brand advocacy from day one. HR often gets the first contact with future employees. This means HR can set the expectations for brand advocacy, making it a habit they adopt from the beginning. It’s very difficult to overestimate how valuable a strong onboarding program is when it comes to making happy employees and loyal brand advocates.
3. Incentivize referrals. Employee referrals are by far the best way to recruit talent. They attract better talent, they lead to more loyal and engaged employees, they’re cost effective, and they are the easiest solution HR could ever ask for. Win, win, win—win. The trick is getting them. With the most passionate brand advocates, you don’t even need to incentivize your people. They’ll share it with the people they know would be a great fit because they simply want to grow your company. However, you can also use outside vendors and begin an official incentive program (we use employeereferrals.com) or you could create your own. The point is incentivize your people. A lot of times they’ll be willing to look around for talent, regardless, but giving them even more incentive all but guarantees results.
4. Make it easy. There’s two pieces to consider here. First of all, have sharable content. If you don’t already, work with your marketing team to come up with content pieces that will help with recruiting and employee retention efforts. If you’re creating good content that your team can share with their friends and family, they will. Then, make it easy for your people to share that content. Do your part to encourage a strong social presence, proactively make employees aware of content as it is made, and lead by example. The second item is pretty simple: swag. Make sure you give your people well-made company-branded clothes. If the clothing is nice enough, they will wear it frequently, and many (brand advocacy) conversations will come of it.
5. Get involved in the community. If you enjoy feeling good inside and you like to be involved in worthwhile causes, then you’re probably not a sociopath. Also, you should be involved in the community. Not only is this a great way to build people, but it’s an awesome way to build your brand to potential customers and prospective employees alike. Think of your company core values and research community programs and events that match up. Then, depending on your bandwidth, get as involved as possible. Some companies encourage their employees to perform community service, and some even require it of their people. Whatever you decide to do in the community, just make sure your people know why it’s important to the company and have fun doing it.