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If there is truth in clichés, the well-worn phrase "we're all in marketing now" has something to teach companies. What your employees say about your company—in person and on social media—holds weight.

That's why brands are going big on employee advocacy programs.

In a 2016 survey, Altimeter found that 90% of surveyed companies are engaging employees in brand advocacy or plan to do so soon. That makes sense: Employee advocacy on social outperforms digital advertising, according to the report, "Social Media Advocacy: Tapping Into the Power of an Engaged Workforce."

At the same time, though, other studies tell us employee engagement is low: Only one out of every three people report trusting their employer.

When the fundamental basis of trust is missing, the tenet that "we're all in marketing now" becomes a far less optimistic statement.

What do your employees truly think about your brand? Do they trust your leadership team? And when they talk about the company publicly, does that support or undercut your marketing goals?

The authors of a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, "Connect, Then Lead," Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, and John Neffinger, cut to the heart of the problem. "Without a foundation of trust," they wrote, "people in the organization may comply outwardly with a leader's wishes, but they're much less likely to conform privately — to adopt the values, culture, and mission of the organization in a sincere, lasting way."

How can employees who feel this way advocate for their companies? They can't.

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image of Claire Lew

Claire Lew is the CEO of Know Your Company, a software tool that helps companies with 25-75 employees get to know their employees better and overcome growing pains.

LinkedIn: Claire Lew

Twitter: @cjlew23