Social media is a hugely effective tool for b2bs and professionals looking to connect with their target markets and decision makers. Research from LinkedIn states that 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media when purchasing. It’s not only a great way to begin two-way conversations with your customers, but you can also use it to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website.
From a marketing perspective, it’s highly recommended for companies to have a social media presence on at least one platform, which they post to regularly. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that users are less trusting of companies than they are other people. As customers, we look to content shares and reviews to reinforce our idea of what’s good and use them to influence our buying decisions.
The entire ‘influencer’ industry derives from how much we value the opinions of others, even people we’ve never met. In comparison, when information comes from brands and institutions, we recognise their bias and seek confirmation from other people to guide us. So is having a company page enough, or are there further ways you can increase your reach and connect with the right people?
For businesses looking to extend their visibility and demonstrate authority in their industry, employee advocacy could be the way to go. To help you decide whether it’s right for you, we’ve laid out exactly what it is, its benefits and how best to implement it.
What is employee advocacy?
Put simply, employee advocacy is the promotion of an organisation by its own people, most recently through social media. It recognises the value your employees can bring to your businesses by merely sharing your content, incorporating your brand in their posts, and sometimes even just by improving their own social presence.
While the concept has been around for many years, more sophisticated employee advocacy programmes that incorporate strategies and measure results are now becoming a more common marketing method, as social media’s influence on the b2b industry grows.
Many consider it to be a more cost-effective and efficient alternative to paid promotions like ads, and it’s easy to see why companies are turning to their own employees for a solution. After all, they’re already invested in your success, they know the brand better than anyone else, and they could even have greater influence and reach over the decision makers that matter to your business.
How will it benefit my company?
There are five key benefits to introducing an employee advocacy programme into your marketing strategy; increased reach, boost in engagement, improved brand credibility, greater employee influence, and cost reduction.
We’ve gone into more detail about each one below, to illustrate exactly how effective employee advocacy can be when implemented correctly.
Increase your reach and visibility.
According to research by Hinge, the most beneficial aspect of an employee advocacy programme, from a business perspective, is that it increases brand visibility. Now that 93% of organisations use social media as part of their content marketing strategy, competition is fierce, so it’s more important than ever to make sure your brand stands out from the crowd.
Each of your employees has their own unique network, so if they share your content the visibility of your brand will soar. LinkedIn’s own research has found that an employee’s network is on average 10x larger than their company’s follower base, so just by looking within your own workforce, the potential to reach hundreds more decision makers is vast.
Likewise, if several of the people in your employee’s network go on to Like or comment on your content, then it will appear on their followers’ feeds. So employee advocacy has the capability to exponentially increase your social reach.
Boost your engagement.
It’s great that your content is reaching more people, but is it reaching the right people and are they actually engaging with it? Ultimately, in order to justify spending time and resources on an employee advocacy programme, you need to feel confident that it will actually increase engagement and lead to conversion.
Research by LinkedIn suggests that engagement doubles when content is shared by employees and Hinge found that businesses participating in formal employee advocacy programmes generated new revenue. These statistics make sense when you think about the increase in reach, because amongst all the new people that are exposed to your brand, there’s sure to be decision makers who would otherwise never have heard of your organisation.
Improve your brand credibility.
On top of boosting engagement, employee advocacy can help you build credibility and authority in your professional communities. Often, your company’s leadership team with have greater influence and a more sophisticated network than your company page. If you tap into their profiles to promote your brand, their credibility will translate onto your page. Since these thought leaders’ opinions are so highly regarded, the fact that they’re advocating for your business can only reflect well on your brand.
Employee advocacy doesn’t always have to involve direct promotion. By merely encouraging your executives to enhance their profiles by posting more regularly or sharing industry insights, you could indirectly boost your credibility. If an employee becomes more of an influential voice on social, and it’s clear that they’re a key member of your organisation on their profile, then the respect they command will reflect well on you too.
Transform your employees into thought leaders.
Encouraging employees to enhance their content and become a more active voice on social media will produce great results for both them and your company. Through regular sharing of industry insights and thoughtful posts based on their field of expertise, your employees could quickly emerge as thought leaders on their platforms.
69% of employees say their involvement in social media for professional purposes helped their career, so when encouraging your people to get on board with your programme, you can prove that there’s huge advantages to them and their prospects as well. And as they become more credible, it will likewise improve the authority of your company.
Save money through organic marketing.
Back to the bottom line: an employee advocacy programme will better your business without the costs of social media advertising. Other than the time and resources you invest in it, it’s completely free. And, essentially, your employees have already done the complicated part for you.
Social media advertising is about promoting your content to the right people: professionals and decision makers that will be interested in your product or service. Well, the chances are, your employees’ networks are already full of the exact type of people you want to reach, and their followers’ networks will be too. All you have to do is create captivating content and let it spread organically using your greatest assets: your employees.
How do I successfully implement an employee advocacy programme?
If you’ve read through the benefits and see how employee advocacy could fit into your marketing strategy, we have a few key tips to ensuring its success. Just like any other campaign, you need to create a proper plan. A robust strategy will keep you focused and guide you throughout, and a method of measurement will help you decipher what’s working and what’s not.
Ask yourself: What are your goals? What do you want to get out of this programme? How do you want to position your employees within their business community? Is there specific type of content that you want them to share? As with any strategy, you need to ensure that your efforts line up with your existing business goals.
It’s also important to keep in mind that not all of your employees will have social media experience, or the right skills to enhance their profiles. If they don’t already have a strong social presence, it might be because they don’t have time or perhaps want to focus their energy elsewhere. If this is the case, tools like CoSend can help you streamline the process by allowing your marketing team to manage all your employees’ accounts on their behalf, from one platform. This will ensure that brand messaging remains consistent and their profiles are kept updated.
Our final tip is not to share everything to every profile. When you create your content, ensure that it encompasses an array of interests, to reflect the diversity of opinions and voices amongst your employees. When you encourage your employees to share the content, make sure it applies to them as a person, so they will continue to be seen as authentic, not just a cog in an organisation.
With these best practices in mind, it’s time to begin your employee advocacy programme and start reaping the benefits of organic social media marketing.