Your employees are one of your largest and most effective brand advocates. Employee advocacy is the exposure employees bring to your brand through their own social activities.
The reach of your employees can easily exceed your brand’s social prominence by going beyond your company’s favored social networking sites. For example, while your company concentrates efforts on B2B-friendly platforms like Facebook and Twitter, your employees may already have a growing social presence on platforms you have not looked into, like Tumblr, and Pinterest. Taking advantage of this fact would allow you to expand your company’s reach without making changes to your existing social strategy.
According to Social Chorus, employees on average reach 10 times more people than all your corporate accounts together. Building on your employees’ social networks can turn an untapped resource into a low-cost, high-return marketing asset.
A study by the Harvard Business School Press revealed a 12 percent in brand advocacy generates an average 2x increase in revenue growth. The study also reported leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently.
From their personal social media accounts to other online assets like email and discussion boards, employees can help you engage with audiences in a broader way. Employee online assets provide a new marketing distribution channel for promoting company content and amplifying the reach of that content.
In many cases, your employees might have a much larger reach and more influence than your own CEO. “On average, an employee advocate is 2x more trusted than your CEO,” according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2014 report.
When employees are given the power to advocate for your company on their personal social networks, they have the ability to increase a company’s social media reach. This opens the door to increasing brand awareness, customer engagement and lead generation.
Creating Employee Brand Advocates
There are three main steps to creating employee brand advocates. They are outlined below:
In order for employees to become brand advocates, your company needs to have a transparent culture where employees feel trusted. Employee advocacy is not something that can be forced. Team members should want to be your advocate, and they will when they feel like they are trusted. Having trust in your employees builds confidence and motivates them to share and engage in social conversations. Giving your team members the freedom to share your content also builds trust. Often times, buyers trust word-of-mouth marketing over company advertisements.
In a recent report by Google, 74 percent of buyers identified word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. Buyers place online opinions as the third most trusted source of product information, according to a Nielsen study.
This is why it is important to have confidence in your employees and equip them with the brand messages you want delivered so they can share your content freely and consistently.
Setting goals and keeping track of performance metrics is also a key part to building employee advocacy. Know what you want to achieve and keep track of those achievements. It is important that you identify what you want your employees to advocate; you want your employees to advocate your brand, but you may also want your employees to share your company’s promotions or new product launches.
In addition, make sure team members understand the advocacy objectives. Advocacy objectives will be different for every company, as each focuses their priorities in different places. These objectives are also known as the Five W’s of employee advocacy.
Who – Who are your key stakeholders?
It is important to take into consideration every resource involved and who your social advocacy will affect. For example: future and current employees; consumers or clients; the marketing department; etc.
What – What are you asking your employees to do?
Of course you want team members to share your content, but be specific. Identify what types of content you would like shared. Offer different topics or formats for employees to use and how to use them. For example, would you like employees to simply share a piece of content, or would you prefer they actually engage in a conversation by commenting on posts and inviting their own networks to attend an upcoming event hosted by your company?
Where – Where do you want to share your information?
Determine the platform priority for your employees to share on. Be sure to take into consideration your target audience, buyer personas and the social media platforms team members are already socially active.
When – At what frequency do you want your employees to post or share?
Provide guidelines and recommendations to your employees for what to share, how to share it, where to share it and how frequently to share your content. But, be sure to still give team members autonomy in the relationship to show you trust them.
Why – Why does your company need or want employee advocacy?
There are many different reasons why a company chooses to implement employee advocacy, including the push to build brand awareness, increase the number of leads or boost employee moral. Ensure you select socially active employees that can help you drive these goals.
Remember, you can’t force your employees to share your content. Employees are going to share the things that are relevant to themselves and to their followers. The less relevant your content is to your employees, the less likely they are going to share it. This is why it’s vital that the content you want shared is diverse and includes many different interests. Having diverse content gives you the ability to increase engagement. Build your employee advocates up by giving them content that supports your brand, is share-worthy and has value (relevant) to them.
Complimenting and rewarding your employees is a great way to make them feel important, and having their success recognized can increase their level of performance at work. Showing your employees the results of their social media advocacy allows them to see how their efforts fit into the overall success of the company and how much of an impact their efforts have on the company. For example, employees will be able to see if their social media activity impacted the number of impressions or how many of their shares contributed to an increase in sales. Employees that feel they are essential to the company’s plans will continue to willingly take time outside of work to advocate on behalf of the company.
Learn how to increase your company’s social media reach by making your employees an essential part of your company’s plan to increase brand awareness and customer engagement.