Employer Brand Advocacy: What to Avoid, Recognize, and Provide to Employees

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Employer Brand Advocacy

Throughout my 25 years of working in talent acquisition, employer brand, and employee communications, there have been many changes and constants. From the late 90s to today, discussions surrounding employee advocacy and ambassadors continue. It’s a topic of keen interest for many organizations seeking to foster positive conversations about their workplaces. And rightly so – employees serve as vital messengers of a company’s narrative, offering a level of trust and reach far greater than traditional corporate channels.

The enthusiasm for employee advocacy often wanes when faced with challenges such as negative reviews, inappropriate online behavior, rogue messaging, or off-brand assets. Here, let’s explore five employee archetypes that can amplify your employer brand and how to effectively empower them within the framework of your employer brand.

5 Employee Advocacy Archetypes

The Executive Influencer

The C-suite wields significant influence over the employer brand, shaping perceptions internally and externally. Organizational leaders must live the company’s values in their actions, infuse the brand in their communications, and hold themselves and others accountable for delivering a positive employee experience. 

  • Avoid presuming that C-level executives naturally excel at representing the employer brand or won’t inadvertently undermine it. (Don’t believe me? Check out these articles on McDonalds, Uber, and MillerKnoll.
  • Recognize their influence internally and externally, across audiences and channels.
  • Provide media training to equip executives to ensure alignment with the employer brand, educate them on why this matters, offer executive writing support, and report back with data. 


The Talent Scout

Recruiters represent the initial face of your organization for many prospective candidates. The impression they leave is pivotal to shaping the overall employer brand experience. Equipping recruiters with compelling stories, industry insights, and brand knowledge is essential for them to effectively advocate for the company.

  • Avoid assuming your recruiters possess strong writing skills, media training, or a deep understanding of the corporate and employer brands. 
  • Recognize that recruiters influence many touchpoints throughout the candidate experience, including job postings, outreach emails and texts, virtual and in-person candidate interactions, and career events.
  • Provide resources such as social images, copy starters, writing workshops, communication templates, and employer brand training to educate and equip effective ambassadors.


The University Ambassador

Former employees, particularly those engaged with their university alma maters, can significantly impact your employer brand through early career outreach. Before leveraging alumni as employer brand ambassadors, it’s crucial to ensure they know the brand, align on expectations, and understand their responsibilities. 

  • Avoid assuming that alumni are schooled in corporate policies, media training, or the candidate experience. 
  • Recognize alumni’s influence in university settings, intern programs, and personal networks.
  • Provide guidance on conduct, travel policies, expected behaviors, what to wear (or not wear), and overall brand training to enhance alumni representation of the employer brand.


The Constructive Critic

In the ongoing, expanding era of social media, employees may express frustrations online, potentially affecting the employer brand. Rather than immediately resorting to disciplinary action, it’s essential to assess whether the behavior constitutes a pattern and if intervention is necessary.

  • Avoid assuming that one review will ruin all branding efforts. At work, there are good days and there are bad days. Seek to understand what is going on from the employee’s perspective. There may be underlying issues worth looking into. 
  • Recognize their influence on review sites, job seekers, and existing networks.
  • Provide avenues for internal feedback, social media guidelines, and HR support to address concerns constructively.


The Enthusiastic Advocate

These employees embody the company spirit, proudly promoting its values and culture. While their passion can be contagious, guiding their advocacy responsibly is essential to safeguard both the employer and corporate brands. It’s better to empower than police advocates. 

  • Avoid assuming advocates understand brand management or the nuances of social media usage.
  • Recognize their influence on colleagues and broader networks.
  • Provide comprehensive training on social media etiquette, brand guidelines, and structured advocacy programs to harness the power of their enthusiasm.

Now you know what to avoid, recognize, and provide to employees at all levels. But, realize this will take time. Fostering employee advocacy requires strategic planning, resource allocation, and ongoing support. Rather than imposing restrictions, empower employees to authentically champion the employer brand. In doing so, you will strengthen the relationship employees have with the organization, and cultivate a culture of advocacy and engagement.

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About the Author 

Shannon Smedstad’s career spans more than 25 years in HR, talent acquisition, employee communications, and employer brand. She led her first employer brand build at GEICO in 2008 and hasn’t stopped since. At exaqueo, she’s led engagements with Zillow, Spectrum, Danone North America, Kempinski Hotels, Red Wing Shoe Company, a top 10 global pharma, one of the world’s premier entertainment companies, and a world-class finance organization. When she’s not strengthening candidate and employee experiences, you can find her with her Girl Scout troop, at a cross country meet, or enjoying life with her husband, two daughters, and a dog named Taco. 

exaqueo is an employer brand and experience consulting firm that brings meaning to the employment relationship through insight, brand, and experience. Our work transforms how employers attract and retain talent who will thrive. Contact exaqueo to learn more about the employment relationship, employer brand innovation, workforce research, and candidate experience offerings.

A personal note from Shannon:
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