September 2, 2016

How to Build Authenticity for Your Brand through Employee Advocacy


Picture of brookdale associates featured in national ad campaign utilizing employee advocacy
Brookdale Associates, courtesy Brookdale

Today’s consumer doesn’t want to be sold to. Period. So how do you reach them? One of the most powerful ways is an employee advocacy video, or a modern take on the tried-and-true testimonial.


I’m not talking about the testimonial from ages long past. Today’s advocacy videos don’t feel staged. You don’t get the sense that the people are paid to regurgitate some boring key message points in badly acted monotone. Yesterday’s testimonials featured real people, sure, but the comparisons end there.

Employee Advocacy Case in Point: Brookdale

One brand slaying it in the employee advocacy space is Brookdale Senior Living. The company’s national ad campaign catches the eye and the heart by putting the focus on their 80,000 associates. Check out Elizabeth, who is cute as a button and one of my favorite advocates in this series.



Instead of having the employees relate some facts and figures about their approach to care, or relaying some dry information about their offerings, they encouraged the associates to be authentic. They share their real thoughts and feelings and reveal the emotion and passion that drives them to come to work every day.


Each of the associates has a story to tell about these seniors and their unique personalities.


Science backs up the power of this kind of storytelling in reaching and converting an audience.

infographic of the power of storytelling and the science behind its effectiveness
Infographic courtesy of Echo


Some industries have been slower to embrace this storytelling path to a deeper connection, either because the powers that be are afraid to lose control of the message (but people are already sharing stories on social anyway), or because they haven’t realized the value.


Others embrace storytelling but want it to be scripted. That approach can never replicate the authenticity to be found in real people using their own words. Employees can be some of the strongest advocates because an audience is much more likely to believe a front line worker’s experience over the assertions of a CEO.

Picture of brookdale associate featured in employee advocacy video series in a behind the scenes shot
Cameras shoot real Brookdale associates for new ad campaign, courtesy Brookdale

To extend the reach of this campaign, Brookdale implemented a content strategy. It included sharing the associate auditions for the videos and behind the scenes shots. This further humanizes the brand and shows that they’re not afraid of transparency. Revealing your true feelings and openly sharing emotion (especially on camera) is hard. But it’s when we lay bare our innermost thoughts and let our guards down that we let people in. It’s like a hug from your brand.


Emotion always matters in storytelling. But when it’s your beloved mother, favorite grandpa, or “cool” uncle, it matters even more. The stakes are so high. You want to know that they’re in good hands and that the people caring for them, actually care for them. It’s a distinction that Brookdale understands, and one other brands can learn from.

Have you seen (or created) a great example of employee advocacy lately? Share your storytelling with me. I’d love to share it.