14 June 2019

Passport to employer brand advocacy: insights from World Employer Branding Day, Lisbon

We recently headed to Portugal, the home of the pastel de nata, to check out the sights and attend World Employer Branding Day, where hundreds of employer brand pros came together to hear from the industry leaders.

Our Head of Strategy, Rhiannon Stroud, went along to host a workshop, educating a crowd of 300 people on ‘Driving Advocacy in Your Employer Brand’. Here’s a glimpse of what it involved…

To kick off, Rhiannon spoke of two brands who have used influencer marketing to raise their brand profiles quickly. Daniel Wellington, a watch company, and Gymshark, a sports fashion retailer, have both leveraged the power of their customers to sell their product for them.

This resource-light way of selling products can help companies turn $15,000 into $220million in the space of 4 years (in Daniel Wellington’s case). If it can do that, the same model can be applied to employer brand advocacy and can be used to attract employees to your organisation.

Rhi suggested that HR teams should start to think like marketers, using similar methods to those that sell an organisation and its products externally to attract and engage people internally.

They say that sex sells, but when it comes to brands, it’s trust that can make the real difference. Influencer and employee advocacy programmes work well to garner trust in a brand; after all, if the employees are singing its praises, it’s likely that what they’re saying is true. The key 3 ingredients for trust in your brand are:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Credibility
  3. Honesty

Creating ambassadors out of your people can improve your brand’s credibility while also extending its reach:

Employee advocates sharing their passion for the brand with their networks can attract people, with 84% of consumers valuing recommendations from friends and family and 47% of people hired through colleague referral staying with an organisation for at least three years.

Passport to Employer Brand Advocacy

As part of Rhi’s session, delegates were tasked with going through their own “passport to employer brand advocacy”. It was a chance for people to consider whether their organisations were ready to be championed. Companies can have all the right intentions in wanting to put an employee advocacy programme in place, but there are some things to consider first.

A successful employee advocacy programme will first address the following 3 points:

  1. Clarify: objectives and desired outcomes
  2. Identify: knowing and engaging with the right people
  3. Amplify: equipping advocates for success


Before embarking on creating brand ambassadors, it’s important to think about why you’re actually doing it. What is it that you’re trying to achieve and how will you measure the success?

We love… GE’s approach to storytelling. Previously viewed as a dull, corporate machine, GE now use its people to tell their brand story on LinkedIn, to sell why it’s a great place to work.

The proof: Within the first month of their programme, GE saw an 800% increase in new applicants, with advocates creating online engagement equating to $3million!



Using behavioural science principles, think about who is credible, likeable and similar to your audience. If people are already advocating for your brand without you asking them, harness their enthusiasm by choosing colleagues that are already present, comfortable and capable on social media.

We love… Royal Bank of Scotland’s use of colleagues’ secret skills. They realised that they had a satirical cartoonist in their ranks – so used it to power their employer brand. Keith from Finance would sketch amusing cartoons relating to RBS life. Leveraging his authenticity, influence and likeability, Keith’s sketches are used as part of their internal comms campaigns.

The proof: Campaign engagement sees spikes when Keith’s cartoons are used.



This stage is all about making it easy for your advocates to do the best job possible for you, giving them the training, equipment and empowerment to set them up for success. Providing guidance on the do’s and don’ts and being really clear on what you want them to do can help them to do well and reach audiences that were previously untouched.

We love… How Adobe keeps it fun. They hold frequent competitions to promote engagement with the brand – like a t-shirt design contest around what ‘Adobe life’ means to them. The t-shirts sold out in days and their engagement metrics shot up! They pre-brief their advocates on big announcements, ensuring their presence and sharing at all fun/high profile events, like the Adobe Creativity conference. This recently generated 5.5 million impressions in just 5 days!

The proof: 97% of Adobe employees are proud to say they work for the company.

Ready to get started?

Once these points have been considered, perhaps it’s time for you to start your own employer brand advocacy programme. Before you do though, think about these key takeaways from Rhiannon’s World Employer Branding Day workshop:

  1. Consider your culture first. There’s no point having an advocacy programme if you have bigger challenges in the organisation. Pay attention to the right places before launching into employee advocacy. If your culture is already there, advocacy will follow, so first focus on engagement.
  2. Be brave and bold. Take note of what is happening externally and apply it internally. We’re the same people in work that we are outside of the office and will consume things the same way. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  3. Remember the key ingredients of advocacy or it will fail. If you don’t want to give people trust and empower them to be authentic, don’t do it. Get ready first to have the best chance of success. 

If you’re good to go employer brand advocacy, why not have a crack at the workshop passport yourself? 

And if that’s not quite enough employer brand for you, come along to our next Heads Up event to hear more. It’s taking place in London on June 20th and we’d love to see you there! 

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