Employee Advocacy & Ambassadors: What’s the difference and why should you care?
Zach Hughes, Employer Brand Manager, SMRS
There’s always a lot of chatter within the employer branding space about creating employee ambassadors and doing more to provide a platform for people to talk openly about their employers and their experiences of work, but the terminology can get confusing if it’s something you’re not already familiar with.
So, what exactly is the difference between an advocate and an ambassador?
Here’s the breakdown we use to differentiate between the two during our employer branding projects:
- Advocate = an employee who chooses to promote their employer without incentive and without being asked.
- Ambassador = an employee who is willing to promote their employer and does so through a structured program. There might be an incentive, or there might not be – but the key difference is that ambassadors are set tasks by the organisation, which align to the employer brand themes, and take part in employer brand activities.
Both are incredibly useful to have when it comes to sharing your employer brand and showcasing the amazing stories, talent and opportunities within your organisation.
For example, we know that content shared by employees is trusted 3 times more than content produced by the organisation.
Employee generated content is also shared up to 24 times more and receives 8 times more engagement, making the case to build a well-structured program more than evident.
However, as enticing as these figures may seem, it’s important to remember that choosing to create a space and a platform for your employees is all about authenticity. The stories need to resonate with your target audience and provide genuine insight into life within your organisation.
Another point to consider is that whilst employee advocacy may be your goal – it takes time to achieve.
Put simply, advocacy is earned.
Advocacy isn’t just a result of a well-developed employer brand (although this helps), it’s also symptomatic of a workplace that people feel fantastic about. A culture that supports them, a place that provides incentives, opportunities, rewards, and challenges.
Advocacy is the result of a lot of work and effort that extends across multiple teams internally and shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of an employer brand or recruitment team.
If your employer net promoter score (eNPS) score isn’t looking too great lately, then don’t expect this to get off the ground immediately. This is a long-term investment that compounds over time, yielding amazing results for those who focus on creating advocacy with consistency and care.
But what about those immediate results?
Making an impact is rightfully a priority for many, especially after spending budget on the creation and implementation of an employer brand. You need to demonstrate a return.
And whilst there are many options available to you, creating an employee ambassador program should be high on your priority list.
In addition to the stats we shared above, we also know that organisations that have a strong ambassador program are 58% more likely to attract candidates, and 20% more likely to retain top talent, than those who don’t.
What’s even better is that you can start right away.
Here are some things to consider once you’ve chosen to embark on this route:
- What kind of stories do you want to showcase?
- Which employees will be confident and convincing in front of a camera?
- Why should these employees take the time to promote the organisation?
- Do you have a legal basis to use these ambassadors should they leave the organisation?
In addition to these points, now is also the time to consider some of your overall strategic objectives when it comes to talent acquisition and retention.
For example, if your teams are looking to attract talent within a specialism – now is the time to highlight someone within your organisation who can connect with those audiences, recounting their own experiences and successes in order to engage with people who may not have otherwise interacted with your content.
Another example could relate to your organisation raising awareness of its core values as you look to attract people with shared beliefs and ambitions. Can you think of people internally who best exemplify these values?
As we know, your people are your biggest assets and one of the best tools to use when it comes to attracting new talent to your organisation.
So once you’ve taken the time to listen to your people and communicate what makes your organisation a unique place to work with a distinctive EVP, it’s time to provide a platform for your people to share their voices properly.
We work with clients on a regular basis, helping them to create guidelines for colleagues to follow, programs for organisations to create and edit content that will capture the imagination when it comes to employee ambassadors and advocates.
Many people want to share the voices of their people but struggle to create a system which people understand inherently and becomes lived and breathed throughout the organisation.
It’s a common issue and a challenge that SMRS tackles all the time. If you would like expert advice on establishing an advocacy or ambassador programme of your own, our team are on hand to speak with you and walk through any questions you have on this topic.
You can reach us here or email us directly at email@example.com.