Before you launch your next advocacy initiative, think about what you’re missing. Engaging internal champions is one of the most powerful – and often overlooked – strategies available to advocates.
Companies spend a lot of time and money marketing to people outside the organization, but they often ignore potential champions in their backyard. Every employee, board member, investor — any individual closely associated with your organization — can be a powerful steward of your brand and message.
Here’s why internal advocacy is so important: People are inundated daily with competing messages. They decide, often in fractions of a second, what deserves their attention. Consumers trust messages and recommendations from friends and family considerably more than communications from a brand. Engaging internal advocates is a great way to break through the noise.
Employees, in particular, can be your proudest, loudest and most knowledge champions if you equip them with your message and tools for sharing it. Here are five ways you can kick start your advocacy by engaging internal advocates:
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Have a plan to ensure your employees and other internal stakeholders understand the why and who behind your business proposition and your advocacy.
Your internal champions know their role in your organization, but they don’t understand the big picture unless you engage them in dialogue. Employees are busy doing what you hired them to do. You must make it easy for them to know your company’s goals and values.
You must educate, empower and excite your advocates as brand ambassadors. How? By being genuine about the why of your advocacy, by bringing them into the creative process early on and by genuinely listening to and acting upon feedback.
Advocates, whether internal or external, want to have a personal relationship with your organization, and they need to know that their suggestions are acknowledged and considered.
Invest in employees
Creating shared ownership in your organization’s goals will lead to more engagement and loyalty among internal advocates.
A little goes a long way when it comes to showing employees that they’re appreciated. At MCG, this includes aligning employees’ passions with their work assignments, offering flexible scheduling and opportunities for training and developing employees’ strengths.
You should also invest in your board members and other internal advocates. Spend time getting to know them, say thank you often and recognize their accomplishments.
Amplify your message through social media
Stop and think for a moment about how many employees, volunteers, board members, investors and other internal stakeholders you have. Now, think about how your advocacy could be amplified if each of these champions passionately shared your message.
Many organizations are intimidated by the idea of trusting their employees to share on social media. Don’t be. You must communicate guidelines and expectations (more on that in a moment), but foster, don’t fear, the use of social media.
Distribute messages and tools
Make it as easy as possible for advocates to share your message.
Include share buttons on web sites, issue calls to action through email, social media groups and other channels; supply messaging and graphics and encourage employees to be actively involved as the “face” of the company or advocacy initiative.
Many people want to contribute to your advocacy. You must give them a starting point, a plan and easy-to-follow guidelines.
Measure – and share – your results
Give your internal advocates regular updates about the impact they’re having. With so many data-driven tools available, there are numerous ways to show advocates how they’re making a difference. Share social media metrics, anecdotal stories, customer or client feedback, any information that will demonstrate why and how their involvement matters.
Engaging advocates is an ongoing process of equipping them to share your message, keeping them informed and recognizing their efforts.
Remember, many of your most powerful champions are in your own organization. Mobilize these advocates at the beginning of your advocacy, and they will propel you toward success.