We’re so excited to announce (once again) that we’re one of Seattle Business Magazine’s top 100 workplaces for 2017.

Every time we win an award like this, it reaffirms our people-first approach to doing business. To put it bluntly, we’re nothing without the intelligent and innovative people that work at Yesler.

Keeping our people happy helps us retain highly motivated employees, who continue to do award-winning work on behalf of our clients, and establish Yesler as a top agency. But it benefits our brand, too.

We’ve written before about how we practice our own brand strategy and build it from the inside out. We focus on keeping our culture healthy and then let our brand shine through our work and through what our clients and employees say about us.

This isn’t something new, and we aren’t alone in understanding the great impact to the business of a team of well-supported employees.

Enter employee advocacy

If you work in HR or marketing, you’re probably hearing a lot about “employee advocacy.” Like all buzzwords, it’s an old tactic with new legs. Traditionally, it’s the use of employee programs like referral bonuses and professional development to extend brand reach. But as the corporate landscape becomes more competitive, organizations increasingly turn to employees, and their social networks, to cut through the brand signals to reach audiences where they’re spending their time.

Employee advocacy has become a structured sales and marketing tactic that encourages employees to share articles from company blogs, pictures from around the office, or other types of content on their social channels, providing a critical voice for the company.

The personal is believable

It’s not just buzz: Employee advocacy efforts are important to do. And it’s easy to show why: Employee advocates are two times more trusted than CEOs.

The reason is authenticity.

You know well that it’s more relatable and believable when an employee shares something positive about the organization than when the marketing team shares content on the organization’s channels.

Plus, the social reach of your employees goes way beyond your own brand reach, with the average employee group having 10 times more social connections than the brand and the messages reaching further when shared by employees than when shared by official channels. More importantly, employees are present in areas where the brand isn’t as strong. And they’re subject matter experts who can captivate a targeted audience among their own professional network.

Bad news travels too

But authenticity swings both ways, which means that if your employees aren’t proud of where they work they aren’t going to share. Or if they do, they’ll share what they don’t like about your organization too.

Employee advocacy only works when the foundational support of an organization is a great culture.

So if you’ve got an unhealthy culture, initiating an employee advocacy program is a roll of the dice. If you have some cultural habit building to do, start there before you begin a formal advocacy program.

Take an advocate’s approach to advocacy

If you know in your bones that your culture is healthy, here’s what to do:

  1. Share. Develop a culture of internal sharing of work you’re doing, the awards you’ve won, and positive press. It showcases the great work everyone is doing and builds pride in being part of a great organization.
  2. Guide. Your employees’ personal social profiles are truly personal space, so tread carefully. Offer suggestions on how to share, where to share, and what to share. Make the information easily accessible. Don’t force sharing or dictate what to say. Believe me—they’ll feel pressured and it’ll come off as inauthentic and can damage your brand.
  3. Engage. Just as you would for external mentions, engage posts by your employees to build, maintain, and show your cultural community. But use discretion: You don’t want to creep them either. If your culture is tight and your social jockeying smart, you’ll know who to engage and when it’s appropriate.
  4. Support. At Yesler, we’re committed to the belief that we grow only if we our employees do. And we do that because we see the value to our employees of their personal development. So when your team uses your brand to showcase their work, you’re supporting their sense of ownership over their career.
  5. Measure. Make sure links you provide include UTM parameters so you can monitor the traffic from your employee advocacy efforts. Measure site traffic from social channels and differentiate between traffic from your posts and those of your employees.

Yesler continues to grow, and as we do, we keep learning how to better support our employees and clients. While we love getting these awards, our most important goal is to keep our team healthy, happy, and innovative.

We’re proud of the work we do here at Yesler, and our employees are, too.

Want to join us? We’re hiring in Seattle, Philadelphia, and Portland.