Back in 2011 I wrote my 2nd book on LinkedIn called Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing. At that time, I wrote,
In order to maximize your company’s exposure on LinkedIn … every sales and marketing employee that represents your business needs to have a LinkedIn profile.
Obviously, from the title of the book geared towards sales and marketing professionals, I only spoke upon those two disciplines, but the reason for them having a presence on LinkedIn was clear:
…every employee representing your company that is on LinkedIn increases the chances that your company will indirectly be found, and the more connected your employees are to others (including each other), the easier it will be for those wanting to contact any of your company employees to do so through the LinkedIn profile.
Fast forward to a world in 2014 where:
- Social media extends well beyond the sales and marketing departments (i.e. the evolution of social business),
- Companies are finally realizing that their employees are a huge untapped source of brand advocates, and
- Social media usage by the professional demographic has become mainstream (if we count Facebook alone).
Not only are more professionals on social media, but they are also consuming more information fed to them by their networks while at the same time sharing more information to their networks. Wouldn’t it be to a company’s advantage to try to influence this paradigm by having their employees share their brand’s message? After all, Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer reminds us that,
At the same time we’ve seen a rise in platforms that can help companies leverage word of mouth marketing from their own employees to help spread their brand message. Some of these platforms include GaggleAMP (Disclaimer: I use GaggleAMP for fans of Maximize Social Business to help share our messaging. You can join our Gaggle here), PeopleLinx (Disclaimer: See below for the joint webinar we will be doing later this month), Addvocate, DynamicSignal, SocialChorus, and EveryoneSocial. Every platform is different and offers additional functionality, but the presence of these platforms shows us that there is a healthy growing market for employee advocacy solutions from a tools perspective.
Much has been written about employee advocacy itself by leaders in the social business field such as Peter Kim (of the Dachis Group) and Michael Brito. Rather than talk about the concept itself, which I hope to do so in future blog posts, I wanted to get back to what I wrote about back in 2011 before employee advocacy was part of our vocabulary: That LinkedIn is the best social media channel to implement your employee advocacy efforts on for the following reasons:
1) Many (most?) professionals still claim Facebook as their private playground and might now want to share anyone else’s message other than their own to their private network of family and friends.
2) Twitter and Google Plus, while certainly used by many, are not used by nearly as many for professional social media activities (see below).
3) Referencing the same image, LinkedIn is clearly used by more professionals for every aspect of professional social media usage that you can think of, from making professional connections to building brand identity, from expanding professional knowledge to establishing thought leadership. This means that if the brand’s message is aligned with that of one’s professional branding, it has greater incentive for an employee to share it.
4) Of all of the social media channels, from a social business perspective, LinkedIn is also one of the first ones that require cross-department collaboration for one simple reason: Based on my own client interviews as well as reflections from others in the field, LinkedIn Company Pages are still managed by Human Resources, not Marketing, half of the time. In fact, it was Human Resources who probably utilized LinkedIn as part of their social recruiting efforts, meaning that more and more of your employees probably already have a LinkedIn presence. Having Human Resources on board is critical in facilitate the launching and success of an enterprise-wide employee advocacy effort.
What this means is that if there was one social media channel that is not only vital to your company but also the most natural one where you can expect employee participation, it would be LinkedIn.
As I do more work in the field of employee advocacy, I look forward to sharing more insights and engaging in relationships with solutions vendors so as to give my clients and readers the best choices when it comes down to their employee advocacy technical platform and how enterprises large and small are utilizing them. I’m happy to announce that the first of these engagements will be a free webinar with PeopleLinx on February 25, 2014 called “Why Your Company Needs a LinkedIn Strategy.” I look forward to your attending the webinar and your feedback after it.
What has your company’s experience been vis a vis employee advocacy? Do you have a formal program? Have you found employees more willing to participate on certain social media channels over others? Please do share your experiences with us for all of us to learn below in the comments. Thank you.