Every business is going digital and trust has become the new marketing currency in today’s digital business world. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends. Today’s ever-changing social media landscape opens up a new world of advocacy opportunities for tapping and motivating the most important marketing assets of your organization – engaged employees. This blog highlights the what, why and how of a successful employee advocacy initiatives within the organizations:
Employee advocacy has become a buzzword in today’s digital world. It’s a Herculean task for organizations to create content that goes viral. To boost social brand reach, many organizations start leveraging their employees in building an employer brand. Hence marketers have to consider employee advocacy as a part of an overall marketing strategy. Don’t miss out on an incredible opportunity to amplify your reach in social media and empower your engaged employees to become powerful marketers for your business!
Employee advocacy enables companies and brands to amplify the marketing messages by encouraging its employees to share approved branded content on their personal social media channels. The key benefits that include:
- Better Employee Engagement
- Increased Social Presence
- Position Your Employees as Thought Leaders and Industry Domain Experts
- Humanize your brand
- Foster Thought Leadership
It also benefits line of business (LoBs) such as sales, marketing, human resources and corporate communication as follows:
- Sales – Drives social selling to improve close rate
- Marketing – Amplifies market reach and drives more traffic to the website
- Human Resources – Boosts social recruiting and improves employer brand
- Corporate Communication – Builds trust and humanizes the company’s brand
From the front office to CEO, many companies are tapping its key marketing assets – Employees are your valuable spokesperson and secret Digital PR weapon to boost your social brand reach across their personal social channels. Here are the key stats that highlight the importance of employee advocacy in today’s digital world:
- 60 million American employees share positive comments about their workplace online (Source: Ad Age).
- Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently than other leads (Source: IBM).
- Content shared by employees receives 8X more engagement than content shared by brand channels (Source: Social Media Today).
- 84% of consumers’ value recommendations from friends and family above all forms of advertising – and additionally, 77% of consumers are likely to make a purchase after hearing about it from someone they trust (Source: Nielsen).
- Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees’ vs the brand (Source: MSLGroup).
- Customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate (Source: Deloitte).
- Referrals are one of the top sources of external hires, according to CareerXRoads, and employee advocates are perfect referrers. A recruitment campaign driven entirely by advocacy can have an on-cost that’s close to zero (Source: Social Media Today).
- 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company (Source: Weber Shandwick).
- Nearly 31% of high-growth firms have a formal employee advocacy program, more than double the average of all other firms. Almost 86% of advocates in a formal program said that their involvement in social media had a positive impact on their career (Source: Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today).
- Employees of socially engaged companies are more likely to stay at their company, feel optimistic about their company’s future and believe their company is more competitive (Source: Altimeter & LinkedIn Relationship Economics 2014).
Employee advocacy has become a new marketing channel to build your brand in social media. It’s also a great way to engage your employees productively. So, start leveraging your organization’s important spokesperson (Employee Brand Advocates) to boost your social brand reach in real-time. Here are the four compelling reasons why Employee Advocacy is the next big thing in Marketing:
1. Digital -Savvy Employees have a wider social reach than brand channels
The social media has opened up a new world of advocacy opportunities for business to connect with digital-savvy employees. The industry experts estimate the following statistics:
- Average Facebook user has 338 friends
- Average Twitter user has 208 followers
- Average LinkedIn user has 393 connections
That’s the power of your employees’ organic reach for your business. According to Social Media Today, “Content shared by employees receives 8X more engagement than content shared by brand channels.” Build an army of employee advocates to boost your social brand reach in real-time!
2. Your Engaged Employees are your biggest marketing assets
Even today, employees are not tapped to become powerful marketers. With the rise of social media, many organizations realize the importance of employees to spread a positive word of mouth recommendation across social media channels. Trust me; your engaged and digital-savvy employees are your best word-of-mouth marketing resource. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing that brings enormous benefits in the long run.
3. People only trust friends, family, and peers more than any other source of information
Word of mouth marketing is a powerful marketing technique but has gained more momentum with the rise of social media in recent years. According to Nielsen study, “84% of consumers’ value recommendations from friends and family above all forms of advertising – and additionally, 77% of consumers are likely to make a purchase after hearing about it from someone they trust.” Hence trust is essential for business and it has also become a new marketing currency in today’s digital world.
4. Your Trusted and Engaged Employees become the Thought Leaders and Industry Experts
According to Weber Shandwick study, “98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company.” By empowering your employees with valuable content to share across their personal social media channels, create an online identity for your engaged employees in broader communities. This, in turn, will position them as an ‘Industry Thought Leader’ and also continuously encourage them to build their personal brand online. They are your ‘Digital PR’ weapons to amplify your organization’s thought leadership content reach in social media.
Building a community of employee brand advocates seems to be a herculean task in an organization. Here are the 5 ways to turn your employees into trusted brand advocates:
1. Create up-to-date social media guidelines
It’s always better to create a social media guidelines that regulate how employees use social media for business purposes. Educate and train them on social media best practices in your respective industry. So, your employee brand advocates would be well-aware about future repercussions while amplifying your content and also advocating your brand using employee advocacy tools.
2. Identify your potential employee brand advocates
- As you aware, disengaged employees are always present in an organization. The onus lies with the business leaders to identify your engaged employees who exhibit the following characteristics to kick start your employee advocacy program:
- Substantial presence across Social Media channels
- Abreast with latest news and market trends within the industry
- Share company’s message in social media
- Strong interest towards company’s growth by adopting new tools and technologies
It is always advisable to run a quick survey to choose your pool of employee enthusiasts who extend their support for a successful employee advocacy program implementation. The most important thing is to select employees across different lines of business (LoBs) without restricting to only Sales and Marketing teams. This will give you a ballpark estimate of your employees’ willingness to adopt employee advocacy across the entire organization.
3. Impart training
No surprise! Your employees are your biggest brand advocates who spread a positive word of mouth recommendation online. It’s imperative you educate your employee brand advocates on your organization brand through all possible channels – Internal communication, webinars, posters, and town hall meetings, boot camp and so on.Next step, you impart relevant training to use employee advocacy tools for advocating on behalf of your brand.
4. Build a culture of collaborative sharing using gamification
The business leaders should capitalize on gamifying employee advocacy programs within an organization. Make it fun and more interactive! Empower and encourage your employee brand advocates through gamification techniques to spur momentum – Incentives, monetary and non-monetary rewards, contests and so on.
It is very important to build a culture of appreciation among your employee brand advocates who bring a human touch to your brand online. You can also recognize your top advocates through – Internal communication, emails, company newsletter, team or town hall meetings. So, the sky is the limit to keep them excited using gamification techniques.
5. Foster a culture of advocacy
Companies are looking forward to innovative employee engagement initiatives for making their employees more engaged and productive. In my opinion, employee advocacy can be considered as a key employee engagement activity within an organization. Precisely, employee engagement and employee advocacy go hand-in-hand.
The company culture plays a pivotal role in making an employee advocacy a successful program in your organization. So, develop a collaborative culture that resonates well with your potential employee brand advocates to advocate on behalf of your brand online.
Employee advocacy has become a new marketing channel to build your brand in social media. It’s also a great way to engage your employees productively. So, start leveraging your organization’s important spokesperson (Employee Brand Advocates) to boost your social brand reach in real-time.
In summation, the above stats highlight that your employees are one of the most valuable and untapped marketing assets today. Identify your social superstars, nurture and train them to hop on to your employee advocacy program – a cost effective marketing channel. Unleash the power of employee brand advocates to build your brand awareness!