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PodcastEmployee Advocacy

Debunked: Employee Advocacy is JUST for Marketing [Podcast]

By Emily Neal31/05/2023August 23rd, 2023No Comments

[Episode Thirty-Two of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧

In this episode of the podcast, Bradley and Lewis debunk the idea that employee advocacy programs solely benefit marketing teams. They highlight that although an employee advocacy tool is perceived as being a marketing function, it can have an equally significant impact on other departments in a business, such as sales and employer branding teams.

Organizations all over the world in every sector are driving strategic competitive advantage by scaling the impact of their employees’ voices… and now YOU can too! As we delve beyond the why and get straight to the how so that you can put employee-driven growth at the heart of your organization.

Welcome to the new and improved version of The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. In this new format, CEO Bradley Keenan is joined by DSMN8’s very own Lewis Gray (Senior Marketing Manager) as a co-host.


BK: Welcome to the Employee Advocacy and Influence podcast. My name is Bradley Keenan, and with me, I have Lewis Gray, who is our Senior Marketing Manager here at DSMN8. So Lewis, why don’t you start by telling our audience what we’re going to be covering today.

LG: Yeah, definitely. So today, we’re going to be debunking the common theory that employee advocacy is just for marketing. We’ll go into why this misconception exists.

We’ll touch on sales and discuss why salespeople are arguably the biggest beneficiaries of employee advocacy.

And then, we’ll finish with employer branding and talk about how employee advocacy creates an authentic behind-the-scenes look at your company culture.

But with that… Let’s begin.

Why People Think Employee Advocacy is Just For Marketing

LG: So I thought a nice place to start would be to discuss why people think employee advocacy is just for marketing. So I guess the most obvious reason, at least from my side.

Obviously, everyone will have their own reasons, but when it comes to employee advocacy, no matter what your intentions are when you launch a program, your marketing team will always benefit. So let’s say, for example, you’re an employer brand manager. If you’re launching an employee advocacy program to elevate your employer brand. Fantastic!

Your marketing team is still going to benefit. So if we use the example of if you’re sharing your careers page, for example, this is just a off the top of my head example, but if you share your careers page, any link that directs to your website, obviously marketing are going to benefit because they’re seeing their website traffic go up.

From a brand perspective, obviously, if you’re constantly talking about the company on social, that’s only a good thing. You’re increasing the company’s reach on social. There are a number of reasons why but I think ultimately, we’ll get into the other reasons, at least from my side, Brad. I’d say that the reason most people have this idea is because no matter what your intentions are, your marketing team are always going to benefit.

BK: Yeah, I’d definitely say that’s right. I think historically speaking, employee advocacy as a product in itself was aimed at marketing people at the very start of the industry, way before we started doing it. Because naturally, when you’re selling the idea that employees are going to share content, that content is generally produced by marketing. So they are the immediate beneficiary of it.

I would say that might be changing a little bit because the concept of what marketing is, and the role that marketing plays has changed. So if you’re a brand marketer, I would argue that you might not necessarily see as much value as, say, a content marketer or somebody who is in demand generation. We definitely see that in the B2C space, employee advocacy is less common than it is in the B2B space.

Because if you’re selling televisions, as an example, your employees talking about those televisions, unless they’re doing it on their personal social channels, isn’t as valuable. But it’s interesting because I often get people call me and say that they have networks of buyers, right? And they’ll always assume that our primary buyer is a HR team because employee advocacy involves people. But actually, generally speaking, it is a marketing team.

LG: So interesting that you say that about these, these buzzwords that people hear because I think that’s another reason why people assume it’s a marketing thing. So it’s interesting to hear you say that, you know, people hear employees, they hear people, they think HR, this is an HR thing. And I’ve definitely had those conversations as well. I’ve spoken to people in the past where, you know, I’ve been trying to communicate the marketing benefits to a marketer, and they’ve been like, oh, you need to speak with our HR team. They’ll love this.

But then, on the flip side, I think a lot of people kind of gravitate towards it being a marketing thing because you hear social media, and you immediately think marketing, right? When it’s a business initiative. I don’t know whether that’s just me. Maybe I’m too close to the action.

BK: No, I think one of the biggest challenges, I think, as somebody who’s either running an employee advocacy company or somebody who’s buying an employee advocacy service is that it is quite difficult to pinpoint who owns it because so many people have value from it. So if you’re in the marketing team, like I said, it’s obvious where the value comes from. If you’re in the sales team, we’re going to talk about that a little bit more, same as employer branding. So often, because the value is actually split across multiple departments, it actually makes it more complicated for one person to take ownership over it. So it’s, yeah, so that can actually make it a little bit more complicated. 

LG: It’s interesting, yeah. I hear, I mean, based on what you said to begin with about the fact that it was kind of always marketed as being a marketing thing, a marketing initiative. Because of that, marketers are usually the buyers. And as a result, they’re usually the ones to launch the program. They oversee the rollout.

And immediately, people assume it’s a marketing initiative. You talk about the marketing benefits, your marketing team are asking you to do it. It’s something that revolves around social media. People immediately assume it’s, you know it’s this new marketing thing. And I think then further down the line, I mean, I’d love to hear your take on this, Brad, but I think further down the line. Employer branding folk, HR teams, sales teams, etc. They start to realise the benefit, and then it becomes like a, I can imagine it becoming like a power grab almost. So like, we want to do this with the program, we want to do that, etc. etc. Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve seen anything along those lines in the past.

BK: Yeah, definitely. I think I always explain employer branding as being the love child between marketing and HR. And sometimes, the child is more like the mom, and sometimes it’s more like the dad. So you could often have an employer branding person who’s actually a marketing person. So they don’t really have that much HR experience and vice versa. I think the challenge when it’s run by marketing like I said, is the natural area for is the logical ownership. Area, but marketing often ask a lot from people, and that could be anything between we want you to, you know, become part of our employee advocacy program or it might just be we want you to change the signature in your email to have a white paper download. And so sometimes there can be resistance from employees because this is the, you know, 50th thing they’ve been asked from the marketing team. So I think that when they do it, they have to frame it with the employee’s value. And not the company’s value.

LG: Sorry, I was just laughing then just because I know I’m that guy.

BK: You are that guy.

LG: I’m the person asking

BK: You are that guy.

LG: All of our team, whether it’s email signatures, LinkedIn headers. Yeah, I should probably. I think I owe a lot of the team because I do ask a lot of them.

BK: Yeah, I mean, there’s literally memes of you running around the company asking people for things. So that’s definitely true.

LG: You know it’s bad when I’m making the memes as well? Like, I’m fully aware of it.

BK: I didn’t realise you were the origin. If you’re making your own memes, I mean, that’s pretty sad but okay.

LG: Well, I mean, it’s one of those things you got to poke fun at yourself from time to time. But yeah, we could obviously we could talk about the marketing benefits and, you know, things like this for days.

We will get into the sales benefits, we will get into the employer branding benefits, but something I want to stress before we move on, employee advocacy is still for marketing. I don’t want us to obviously talk about this misconception if it’s not a marketing thing. It’s just it’s so well covered.

You know, we’ve done countless episodes on the benefits of employee advocacy for marketing. So obviously, there’s the, you know, it’s a more cost-effective way of getting your content out there, especially in the current economic climate, better reach, better engagement, et cetera.

But today, we’re just gonna focus on the sales benefits and the employer branding benefits. So let’s get into the sales benefits.

Why Salespeople Benefit Most From Employee Advocacy

BK: Okay, so let’s talk about why salespeople are the, I think, the biggest beneficiary of employee advocacy.

And something that a lot of people don’t realise is that DSMN8, when we actually built the original version, original MVP of the product, it was actually built to be a sales enablement tool and not an employee advocacy tool.

So I had come out of a previous business that I had sold back in 2014. And essentially, what happened was in the handover period between me being the owner of the company to the new owner of the company, there’s about a two-year period where essentially they want you around in case something goes wrong.

But actually, they don’t want you around because you’re a pain in the backside. So certainly, in my case, anyway. So what they do is they put you out to pasture, and I went into a marketing role.

So essentially, what I was doing was producing content that would help the sales team of the acquiring business sell the product quicker, be better trained, all those kinds of things. So we started producing content, but it was actually really, really impossible to get the salespeople to actually share the content, which baffled me because I saw it as, well, hold on, I’m producing something which will help you sell, but you’re not.

Doing the final bit, which is posting it onto social, which is actually the easy bit. And it was about the time where I started to think about what’s next. Am I going to start another business? And I was at a conference, which was Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. And I was watching a talk by a guy from John Deere, and he was talking about apps, right?

Which is not new even then, but basically, what he was saying was that the key to a good app is to make a process more simple, to make the desired outcome more probable. Right? Make ordering your train tickets easier. That means more people are going to go on the train. Simple.

So that’s where I had the idea of producing an app that made it easy for employees and salespeople to share content. But the biggest thing was that even when we did the first version of the tool, it actually wasn’t very easy for salespeople to share it, because the issue for them wasn’t that they didn’t know how to do it.

It was that they were too time-poor to actually perform the action. So even when they were motivated and even when they saw the value. Actually, what you had to do is create automation workflows and things like that to essentially prompt the salesperson and actually do the work on their behalf.

But salespeople are notorious for being short-sighted, and I say that as a, I won’t say I’m a salesperson now, but I have been in my previous existence because what you’re trying to do is, your quota is typically quarterly. So you’re looking to do any action which is going to help deals get closed this quarter.

Posting on social today probably isn’t going to get you a new deal this month or next month. It’s a long-term thing you need to build up over time. So the salesperson will always focus on the thing that is gonna give them the short-term result, even if something is there to give them a long-term result.

So I think it’s frustrating because I feel like the channel of posting on social should be hygiene for any salesperson. But actually, the majority of them don’t post original content. And some will argue that they engage in comments instead and blah, blah, blah. And that’s fine. And that is true. But I still think that every salesperson should be sharing content that helps them sell their product on a regular basis. Um, but the majority of them don’t.

LG: Yeah, I think you’ve touched on an important point. The fact that there are, you know, you might hear about immediate wins. A funny story is somebody in the marketing team of, you know. The whole of DSMN8, the only person I know who’s had like an immediate win, they shared a piece of content to social, and they had somebody reach out to them based on it.

And obviously, the sales team would have just slapped that opportunity up. But you don’t, typically speaking, you just don’t see immediate results from, let’s just call it, social selling, like social selling in general. It is a long-winded process, but obviously, it’s just a case of, it’s like with any sales process, right?

It’s just keeping the funnel full of leads. So like, treat your social media profile, your social feed in a similar way. So like, you’ve got all of these people that you’re connected with, you’re literally just sharing content, you’re keeping yourself front of mind. So, Brad, I think you’ve used this analogy before about the “check-in” email and how social media has basically become that. So

BK: Well, it should become that in a kind of, if you do it right.

LG: Oh, definitely. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I don’t.

BK: Sorry, go ahead.

LG: As soon as I hear, you know, if an email says “checking in”, 95% of the time, it’s somebody who I haven’t yet spoken with.

So I just know that it’s not something that I’ve actively engaged with. It’s usually a, I have no beef with cold email, but I know 95% of the time it’s a cold email outreach that I haven’t responded to. And they say just “checking in”.

So a lot of the time, they are ignored. But I think social media is just kind of giving you that new, softer way of checking in with people.

If you’ve emailed somebody about something, maybe you’ve had a, let’s say, one of our sales team has spoken to somebody about the personal branding benefits of employee advocacy. They can then post about that on social, knowing that the person that they’ve spoken with, if they’re connected with them on LinkedIn, is going to see that. And that’s kind of like that soft check-in because you’re not. You’re not actively sending it to them. You’re just putting it out there for them to see.

BK: I wonder if you think about the stats, I could probably work this out. Sending someone a check-in email versus posting on social media and the probability that they’ll see it, I would say it’s probably more likely that they would see it on social, because if you send someone a check-in email, they’re getting hundreds of those a day.

So I would say I open about 50% of my emails, and I would scan and look at the subject line. And even if it was from somebody I was buying from at that point in time, unless it’s about the contract or an upcoming meeting or something, then I know any email they send me is probably just gonna be them basically trying to speed up the sales process.

So the other issue is email deliverability, which is getting harder and harder to actually get into people’s inboxes. So if the average person has, let’s say, a thousand connections, which is more than average, but in an executive role is about right.

Only 10% of those people are going to be sharing content on a monthly basis. That’s a hundred of those people in a month. So if you post something on that day, you’re probably going to have your prospective client see it, which is you could do it much more frequently than you can do a check-in email.

And also, it forces the person to actually lead with value and not lead with the selfish, you know, how quickly you’re going to be signing a check. So I think it forces good behaviour.

LG: Yeah, on good behaviour as well. Right, this is a, I like to nerd out over the LinkedIn algorithm, so we can get into it.

But basically, if you’ve done a good job of, it’s like you’re saying about good behaviour, if you’ve done a good job of engaging with the rest of their content as well, so commenting on their posts, you know.

Responding to them when they comment on your post, whatever it might be, but if you’re truly social selling and you’re going through this process of like community management, you’re only increasing the chances that your posts, are gonna make it to their feed. So it’s almost like you’re, you know, by consistently engaging with them when you then post, you’re one of the people that’s gonna make it to their feed. Does that make sense, or have I just kind of gone too marketing with it?

BK: Yeah, 100%. And also, this is less about employee advocacy but just the basics of social selling. If somebody’s in your current list of prospects, if you haven’t hit the bell icon on their LinkedIn page to be notified when they post something, then you deserve not to close the deal as far as I’m concerned.

Because there’s a tool there that says when they post something, alert me so I can support it with a like, and I can give them a comment, and you know, most people aren’t getting, you know, hundreds of engagements. So that one comment that you know your prospect receives from you, assuming that is, you know, thought out and isn’t asking for how long it’s going to be till the check gets signed, that will be very well received. But most salespeople wouldn’t go through the process of doing that. So I think there is a shift, but I think it’s taken a little bit longer than it should do.

LG: It’s hard to undo as well, like from personal experience. I have people in my feed that I don’t think I’ve, in my mind, I feel like I’ve never engaged with, but there must’ve been some point, maybe it’s like hang time on their posts, or I’ve just liked a post or shared it to somebody else.

Once the algorithm’s done its magic and it’s just like, okay, you like this, we’re gonna give you more of it. I feel like that’s so hard to undo. So if you manage to get into their feed, chances are you’ll stay there. If you keep it up, if you don’t drop the ball, you know, you’ll stay there, and you can treat that like a, you know, almost like an email inbox for you to check in and, you know, share content, thought leadership with them.

BK: Yeah, 100%. And I think one of the mistakes people make is they chase engagement in any way that they can. So they’ll post something which is not related commercially to what they do. And they’ll get loads of likes and whatever. But the big question is, so so what? Like most people aren’t on LinkedIn to engage with their friends. So I use Instagram a little bit, but not a lot. But mainly, I use Instagram to keep up with my friends and to message each other and whatever.

But LinkedIn, for me, is a commercial platform. It’s there because we want to advertise what we do, and we want to be known for what we’re experts in. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I think a lot of people hide that that is the true intention.

So what they do is they post content which is gonna get them likes, but nobody knows. Okay, I liked it, but so what?

But the interesting thing is if you post about what you do you’re an expert in, you’ll be seen more for doing that. So a good example is we’re hiring for a number of salespeople at the moment. And have to be careful as I say this, actually, but so I’ve been looking at lots of content around these, the idea of an SDR and what role the SDR plays in an organisation now versus five years ago.

So I’m seeing a lot of content around SDRs, and then a post pops into my feed. It’s not from someone I follow, right? So it’s somehow this has ended up in my feed where there’s an SDR being interviewed by somebody else, London based, and I’m like, that’s the guy. I need that person in business. So I connect with him, say, “hey, I saw your post where you were talking about tonality and cold calls, really interesting stuff”. He then comes back and says “it’s so random that you’ve messaged me because I was doing a role play last week, and I used DSMN8 as the company that I was doing the role play in”.

LG: Fate.

BK: Exactly. So now we’re kind of like starting to court each other with a view that, hopefully, he will join DSMN8 at some point. So just because he was posting about what he did, I now know that that’s what he did. If he had posted about his motivational walk up a hill or something, he raised loads of money to charity, I’d have no idea what he did for a job.

LG: Yeah, I mean, just on that point, and I’m going to pretend that I didn’t upload a picture when I ran the London Marathon.

BK: I didn’t see that in my feed, Lewis, so I don’t remember even seeing that. You should have mentioned it.

LG: I’ll post it again.

BK: Okay, cool.

LG: But just on that, like with, if you imagine LinkedIn is like this big networking event. So if you’re a, I don’t know, if you’re a sales leader and you send a load of your salespeople, your sales teams off to a networking event where there’s gonna be thousands of people who are within your ICP.

And if your sales team just went there and essentially just cracked jokes or told stories about the marathon they’ve just run, or you know, some hike they did, some personal achievement, you know, maybe there’s an argument to say they’re networking, they’re making connections, et cetera, but. Brad, correct me if I’m wrong because, you know, obviously, I’m not coming from that sales background. I like to think, or I’d imagine, that if you’re going to a big networking event, you, you know, you, you kind of want to put yourself out there and tell people about what you do.

BK: Yeah, I would say I’m old enough now to know or certainly remember the shift that happened in sales. So in my early career in sales, everything was about relationships. And there’s a cliche, but it was true.

Everything was about going to lunch with people, getting to know them, you become friends, you sell something that they buy, and they buy from you because they like you. Those days are gone.

People buy from people because it benefits them. So I’m not going to buy. We just recently changed our customer success platform. So I didn’t buy the new customer success platform because I liked the guy. I did like the guy, so that helped the process. I bought it because it was the best one that would benefit DSMN8.

So the transaction was based on the product, and I think that’s changed a lot. So when people are at… a networking event, in that example, they have to be talking about what they do. Otherwise, it’s a complete waste of time because even if you became best friends with the marketing director at Nike at the bar, that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy anything from you. It just means that you made a friend and you can do that. You can do that anywhere.

LG: Yeah, it’s interesting to hear. It’s not a world that I’m all too familiar with, but I can totally understand that, you know, the change in attitudes towards things seem to be a bit more transactional now, right? It’s not about, like you said, the relationship building so much as it used to be. Like obviously, it still plays an important role in networking, but.

BK: There was an interesting thing in, there’s a book called Gap Selling, which all the sales guys at DSMN8 love. And basically, what he says is that if you’re liked by someone, it will help. It will help, but they won’t buy your product because they like you. But they could still buy the product from you if they disliked you. So they could dislike you.

And if they like the product, then that’s ultimately what they’re walking away with. So the thing that I think is a shame on social when it comes to salespeople is that basic marketing is being front of mind, right? When somebody has a problem. So we talk about it being problem aware, solution aware. Right? So we’re the solution, and we want them to be aware of that. But first of all, they have to be problem aware.

Now, who’s the first person they think of when they recognise that they’ve got that problem? You can control that by the frequency in which you share relevant information to your target audience. By email, that’s not possible. By social, it is. So if I have a problem in certain areas, the first person I think of will be the person who speaks about it the most on LinkedIn. People I don’t know, but they will be the first person I call when I have that problem.

LG: Yeah.

BK: And if you’ve got a competitor, so let’s say you sell cybersecurity, right, and you specialise in the pharmaceuticals industry in the UK, it’s fair to assume that there’s going to be other salespeople that have the exact same target audience as you. Now if they’re posting three times a week relevant great content and you don’t post that, you are essentially handing over airtime to your competitors just to be on an even footing. So I think when salespeople don’t share, I just think it’s, you know, an absolute waste, to be honest.

LG: Yeah, definitely. And it’s becoming a bit of a running joke that I’m the stats man, but a nice place to finish on before we move on to the employer branding benefits.

Obviously, we’re not just gonna sit here and give you our opinion. We wanna give you the numbers to back it up. So from Aberdeen Group, 73% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperform their sales peers and exceed quota 23% more often. So huge numbers there. Obviously, based on everything we’ve said, the numbers are there to back that up as well. 

BK: I’ve got some stats to add to the sales piece. So before we looked at this podcast, I looked at our own data.

Obviously, we published leaderboards in different industries showing how active people are on social. So looking at salespeople in North America and EMEA, and looking at what percentage of them share content or have shared content in the last 30 days. One thing I’ve never really looked at before is what impact time in their role has on the frequency in which they share.

So what the data shows is that if someone is less than one year in their role, 30% of salespeople have shared in the last 30 days. From years two to three, it goes down to 24%. Then two to five, it goes down to 12%. If you’ve been with a company in your role for more than five years, the percentage is actually 9%, which means that a salesperson in a role for more than five years only has a 1 in 10 probability that they would have shared any expertise on social. So that might be that they just become so well connected that they don’t need to do it anymore. Or it might be that they do less prospecting, which means that they share less.

LG: That’s so interesting. Yeah. I was, I was going to ask why you think it is like. Obviously, we’ve got the numbers. And now we can speculate from, from my standpoint, I would’ve thought, I guess the, the, maybe the logical thinking might be the longer you’re in a sales role, you’re advancing to more senior positions.

Maybe prospecting isn’t as much of a part of your sales process now if you’re an AE or something along those lines, but I would have still thought it would play a pretty important role. Like it’s still just as important to get in front of people that you’re speaking with, right?

BK: Yeah, I think that the first-year stats might be inflated on the basis that when people join a company, they say, I’m excited to join the company. So there might be a lot of those posts that happened in the last 30 days that wouldn’t happen year after year. So there might be that impact. So it’s, yeah, it’s definitely tough to say, but certainly, if I had a sales force and only 1 in 10 of them were posting on social. I mean, that seems like a key channel that should be frequent.

If you had a salesperson that wasn’t, we used to in the old days, say a salesperson with a low mileage car. It just meant they weren’t going to meetings, right? So if your salespeople weren’t writing emails, they weren’t making cold calls, they weren’t posting on social, then it’s fair to assume that they’re not doing their job.

LG: Nice, okay, well, I mean, that was something new for me. And it’s pretty shocking, to be honest. I think that’s something we can definitely be creating more content around. But amazing, we’ll park it there. That’s two lots of stats for you. We’ll park it there, and we’ll crack on with the employer branding benefits.

Benefits for Employer Branding

BK: Okay, so the next beneficiary of employee advocacy, or certainly the, I would say, the, second most obvious, third most obvious outside of marketing, so marketing, sales, is employer branding. So employer branding isn’t necessarily a new concept but is certainly new when it comes to widespread adoption of having somebody in the company that’s focused on the branding of the company as a great employer. So naturally, using your employees as a way to share that content is logical.

And we’ve seen the evolution of that get more sophisticated. So there’s nothing wrong with this, by the way, but it’s very common now for employer branding teams to ask their employees to share content around company culture. So we talk about that being team away days, these kinds of things.

But actually, that’s now getting a little bit dated because the content is kind of becoming a little bit vanilla on LinkedIn. And I have to be careful because I know you do this, but posting images of new recruits, standing outside the office saying hey, I’m really excited about working here, is kind of hygiene content now. It’s good to have it.

But does it really tell me what it’s like to work at that organisation, or do I just think that employee has been told to stand outside and have a picture? So what is great is when people get really, really authentic with it and actually use the employee advocacy tool to promote the employee and to celebrate their wins and their successes. And that’s both personal and professional. So it might be new baby, marriage, run the marathon. I’m sure you posted on our socials about you, did you?

LG: I didn’t, but

BK: You didn’t?

LG: now you mention it, I kind of wish I had done.

BK: That was a great opportunity. You could have been like our star Lewis who did a really good job.

LG: It’s a running joke. Anytime I comment on any of my posts as DSMN8, it’s literally Lewis talking to Lewis, giving Lewis credit for some sort of reason.

BK: Well, I know that if I like one of my own posts, I’ll get a meme from you, which is the Obama giving himself a medal meme. Which I love.

LG: That’s the one I usually get.

BK: Yeah, no, it’s good. I like that one.

LG: That’s amazing.

BK: Yeah, so I think getting employees to create content is fantastic. But I feel like conversations I had two years ago about what people wanted, which was things that were really great ideas, and now becoming a bit vanilla.

So it’s like a day in life of what’s it like in this role is feels a little bit, a little bit forced. I think if it’s not done well or not done in the employee’s own tone of voice rather than it being like a company thing.

LG: Yeah, I think authenticity is key with all of this. And things do very quickly just become hygiene because one company will start doing something, like you mentioned about the new joiner photo, something that we do even when somebody joins, you know, we’ll post about it on our… corporate channels, but things quickly catch on.

And, you know, whatever the new thing is, everybody will start doing it. And then that becomes dated and hygiene. You have to kind of always be thinking of something else. But I think the reason authenticity has become so important is just because the emerging work, even now, it’s not just the emerging workforce. People are just increasingly sceptical about brands. And you know… distrusting of brands. So in the past, we’ve seen it with companies having, you know, touting the fact that they have like slides in the office, ball pits, beer, table tennis tables, whatever it might be.

But it was always coming from the companies themselves. They were the ones talking about these benefits. And I think the reason employee advocacy is so unique is because… it’s always going to be the most authentic way of talking about it because you’re hearing it from the employees themselves.

So even if it is just some behind-the-scenes content of a couple of your employees playing table tennis or something along those lines, the fact that it’s been created by the employee, shared by employees, immediately just cuts the, you know, the company out of the equation.

Obviously, you know, you want them to still be talking about the brand, but I don’t think there’s anything out there currently that’s more authentic than hearing about what it’s like to work at a company than hearing it from the people who actually work at the company.

BK: I think it’s, like, so we live on the court. There’s basically a pub just down the road from us, right? So if anyone’s in America thinking about how many pubs have in England, we do have one on every single corner. And there’s one on the corner of my street, and it’s a really, really, really old building. And in there, they have pictures from throughout the years of the people that have worked there and where they’ve done like rowing races and things like that.

And the pictures are always because photography was so rare, the pictures are always people standing, they’re like standing, looking into the camera, building in the background. It’s very static. I know a photo is static, but it’s not like someone captured a moment. It’s can everyone stand here and look into the camera because we’ve got two shots taking this picture. And all the pictures, they’re lovely, but they are very, very wooden. And I think that that’s what employer branding content was like a year ago. It’s a little bit wooden.

It’s team building. Let’s all stand, stand outside the building. What I think works really well is if people use, there’s two ways of doing it. You can either create a hashtag for the company so you can easily search it. So, you know, life at DSMN8 and just say to employees, when you post on social, and it’s about, you know, something you’ve done in your work day, #lifeatDSMN8. So you, as a social media manager or something that looks after social can go search that hashtag, find the stuff and go “actually, that’s a really cool piece of content. I’d like to use it on my corporate channel. And I’d like to use that piece of content to promote it via the rest of the employees.” That’s one way of doing it.

And then other is like internal communications channels. So if you use Microsoft Teams as an example, there’ll be different channels in there for different things. And I like it when the social media manager joins those groups and those communities, finds a picture that was really organic, wasn’t ever really designed to be used on social, but then contacts the person say, “hey, I saw you, you know, you like table tennis” cliche or whatever.”Saw you guys doing this thing. Would you mind if I shared it on the corporate channel and I, tag you in it and kind of give you credit for it?” And that’s totally organic. And doing that, and then promoting it via the workforce, that’s the best version of it because it is real.

LG: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think it’s good to encourage things like you mentioned the life at the DSMN8 hashtag. We use it with a lot of the posts that we put out on our company pages. We’ve mentioned it to our colleagues if you’re sharing anything on social. Like if you use the hashtag, then obviously, if people search it or if they click on it, they’ll see other photos like it, but we don’t enforce it.

I think that’s where you could lose some authenticity. So again, just having that as like your North Star with all of this content, with any employer branding content, authenticity. If you’re kind of dictating what’s required for this kind of content, you’re immediately just going to suck the life out of it, and suddenly it feels like an employee is sharing something because they’ve been told to share it. And they might not have even been. That might not be the case.

So Brad, if you use the example you just mentioned with the Teams channels. The way that you mentioned it is the right way to go about it. But another way that I think probably it does go in some companies is they’ll see that, and then it will kind of be dictated to the person how it will be used if they if they choose to use it. Does that make sense?

BK: Yeah, absolutely. And you see that especially around certain times of the year where you’ll have Pride Month as an example. When people first started supporting Pride, I think people were really positive about it.

But then actually the community themselves felt like, well, this is tokenism because basically what you’re doing is at this time of the year, you want to celebrate lots of pictures of us, but for the rest of the year, you don’t do anything. So it’s a really difficult balance for people to get right as where if it’s done organically and it’s done all throughout the year, then it is real.

LG: Yeah.

BK: But I think it’s just a difficult one to balance, I think.

LG: Sorry, Brad, I was just thinking about something you mentioned to me the other day about employees posting on social, kind of like opening the door for conversation. Is

BK: Yeah, So, yeah, essentially, so we, we try and do everything we can as a, you know, as our own employer brand. So for me, the employer brand of our company is transparency and is about putting the candidate first, right?

So one of the things that annoys me is when I was younger, and I would go for a job interview. When I go to a job interview, I haven’t necessarily decided I want to work at that company. Right. So the dynamics are actually really weird because you’re going to some, you’re going to a room or a Zoom call where someone’s going to be probing you, and trying to get you to prove why you want to work for them. But you haven’t made the decision whether you want to work for them yet. It’s weird. So you’re almost pretending you want to work for them. And I always felt that that was a bit, a bit bizarre.

So what we do is we always take the first 10-20 minutes of the interview for me to sell why I think someone should want to work here. And it’s at that point that the candidate can make a decision. Do I, do I feel like this is a fit for me? If so, that gives me permission as the person in doing the interview to probe a little bit more because they’ve said they want to work here. So now I kind of is permission, right? So that, that view of transparency, in putting the candidate first, means that I want the candidate to make sure that they want to work here because we don’t want somebody joining for a month and then leaving.

So I always say to people. Feel free to reach out to anyone who works in the company. Like search LinkedIn, ping them, ask them what their experience is like as an employee. And I think that more people do that because pretty much all of our employees are active on social weekly. So because they’re posting, they’re basically saying, I’m open to conversation, which is more inviting for somebody to ping a question and say, “hey, I noticed you post this. What’s it like working there?” As where if everyone was completely silent, hadn’t posted, like when you see somebody who’s posted, and it says hasn’t posted forever, there’s not really a great invitation to want to start talking to that person.

LG: Yeah, I compare it to, like, this might sound a little bit silly, but it’s almost like WhatsApp when you see the, I don’t know if it still gives you the, when they were last online, maybe like Instagram, it will tell you when somebody was last active. And if it was months ago. Wouldn’t reach out to them because you know you’re not going to get a reply, whereas if somebody’s posting regularly, they’re regularly active. It kind of, it almost just gives you that indication that they’re there, they’re active on the platform, and you can reach out to them.

But the real reason I mention it is because we’ve just taken on a digital marketing executive, somebody’s just joined the marketing team here at DSMN8, and we’re hiring for another marketing executive at the moment as well. But she basically said to me, our new recruit, Selina, she basically said to me that people were reaching out to her. Asking about the role at DSMN8. So she’s only been with us for two or three weeks but, 

BK: Right.

LG: I just thought that that kind of sums up what you were telling me about the other day. It’s just like, you know, you mentioned it all of a sudden we’re posting about this job ad, they’d seen it. These people hadn’t actually applied for the role yet. Full disclosure, I’ve, you know, got access to the applications there, so I did have a quick look. But they wanted to know what it was like to work at the company, they have since applied. That’s the only reason that I’m mentioning it.

But they just wanted to know what it was like to work at the company. I think they were together on the same course a few years back, so they had that pre-existing relationship, but it just opens a door. Like you said, it opens a door for communication.

BK: And I think that’s the that’s the when it comes to employer branding, I think that some employer branding think their employer brand is like you said, is what’s it, what’s the work environment like? Is there, is there a slide? Is there free food? Is there all this kind of stuff?

And actually, if you speak to people, that isn’t what people want. What people want is respect, trust, all those things that everyone, everyone wants. So showing that you trust your employees and you respect them, even if that’s celebrating, you know, a picture of them with their family, you know, that shows that you respect the employees, which means your employer branding is a company that respects their employees. So I think doing that and doing it via employee advocacy really helps because the other employees can kind of get involved and help promote the content.

LG: Yeah, I think there’s this idea, or maybe this is just in my head. I feel like this is something that I’ve heard before, but people thinking that by putting this content into your employee advocacy program and encouraging employees to share it removes that authenticity. It’s not at all. It’s just giving them the content for them to share.

It’s allowing them to access this content and share it. So a double debunking there with debunking why advocacy isn’t just for marketing and also, you know, that it, I don’t know, I don’t want, I wouldn’t want anybody to feel that it takes away that authenticity because obviously you just, with any advocacy program, the goal is to provide your employees with the content, make it easy for them to find it, and then obviously the end goal is for them to share it, but.

BK: Yeah, absolutely. And what other role, you know, if you think about these as channels, communication channels, right? So if we think of social sales as an example, not to backtrack, but the phone is one channel, social is another, email is another, you would script and template all of those channels.

And just like a cold call script, the cold call script is there as a framework for you to basically always have a north star to navigate back to if you get lost. So providing employees with copy that helps them share what’s relevant to their role is just that it’s here’s the framework you make it however you want to, but also, if you’re not a copywriter and you don’t feel comfortable, or you’re sharing content in English, and it isn’t your first language etc. etc. then the copy is there for you to share it. So it’s it’s more about enabling people than it is about forcing people.

LG: Definitely. I love that analogy. I’m absolutely stealing that for a piece of content. 100%. 

BK: I look forward to that meme ready to share.

LG: Brad, that’s everything from my side. I don’t know if there’s anything else you wanted to add on the employer branding benefits.

BK: No, I think we captured everything, but I’m sure we’ll cover more in future episodes.

LG: Amazing! Awesome. Well, thank you, everybody, for listening. We’ll drop any and all relevant resources in the show notes below. But until next week, it’s a thank you from me. Brad, I’ll let you say your goodbyes.

BK: Yeah, thank you for me too. And as always, feel free to get in contact with Lewis or I on LinkedIn. Or, as we said earlier, any other members of the DSMN8 family.

LG: Awesome. Thank you very much, guys!

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Emily Neal

SEO and Content Specialist at DSMN8. Emily has 10 years experience blogging, and is a pro at Pinterest Marketing, reaching 1 million monthly views. She’s all about empowering employees to grow their personal brands and become influencers.