I get lost in a bookshop – browsing, flicking and sipping (since most have coffee shops attached). But there’s one bookshop in the UK that goes beyond just “selling books” - Waterstones.
What I love about Waterstones is that every so often you come across a book with a hand-written note from a staff member explaining why they loved reading the book. A simple gesture that brings an expert and authentic influence to the customer experience.
Employees of Waterstones clearly love to read (I wouldn’t be surprised if this pre-requisite is part of their recruitment process). Selling books is a job. Loving to read is a passion.
Building trust with potential buyers is the absolute foundation of Social Selling and Employee Advocacy. According to the State Of Sales 2018 Report by LinkedIn, it’s more important than ever for sales professionals to earn and maintain trust as consumer scepticism of big brands peaks. In fact;
- 51% of decision makers rank trust as the #1 factor they desire in a salesperson
- Followed by responsiveness (42%)
- Expertise in the field (42%)
- Problem solving (37%)
- Transparency (34%)
Note that creepy, pushy, aggressive and desperate aren’t in the list? Brand authenticity is key to building a trusted customer experience.
Onalytica recently published Employee Advocacy 2.0: Leveraging Influence in partnership with Tribal Impact. A 50+ page white paper packed full of insights about employee advocacy from experts across the industry exploring the power of connecting influential employees to market influencers via authentic conversations.
Creating Expert Influence In An Authentic Way
Simple. Your employees represent the most credible voice of your brand. By enabling them to be part of your brand conversation on social media will scale the reach of your message, drive quality conversions and build a pipeline of relationships that will convert at a much higher ratio than any other lead source.
At Tribal, we often engage with companies that have either invested in an employee advocacy tool or LinkedIn Sales Navigator licenses but are still struggling to measure the impact.
1. Different Employees Will Adopt Different Roles On Social Media
I hate to break it to you, but not all your employee’s will want to be on social media at work. Accept that and move on. Understand the role each employee may want to play in your advocacy plan.
- Some won’t be interested (that’s fine by the way – leave them alone)
- Some will share content.
- Others will curate content.
- A few will want to create content.
We use our Employee Social Media Impact quiz to identify where your employees currently are and where they want (and sometimes need) to be. It helps us target training more accurately.
2. Discover Your Strongest Advocates And Potential Influencers
There are a couple of ways to do this.
Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator and create a Lead Search for employees that work for your company. Use the Spotlight bar along the top to focus the search on those that have shared in the last 30 days. You have just discovered a subset of employees that already see the value in being active on LinkedIn. You don’t have to convince them. Hurrah!
You can do something similar with Twitter. Use FollowerWonk and search bios for mentions of your brand. You can then sort this by Social Authority and Followers. You can quickly build a picture of your active employees on Twitter.
3. Fast Track Your Experts With Enablement And Support
You’ve identified your experts/potential experts. Help them optimise their LinkedIn profile so it reflects their personality and specialist area using keywords. As they create content, they will attract more attention so make sure their profile is tip-top.
Now you can support them with training and/or copy-writing to transfer knowledge out of their head and into fully optimised content for your website. Use social listening to understand trending topics and suggest themes. Use platforms like BuzzSumo to understand what kind of content you need to invest in.
4. Get Expert Generated Content Into The Hands Of Your Employees
This is where employee advocacy platforms fit perfectly. Encouraging employees to share peer content is going to be a lot easier than encouraging them to share marketing content. It’s more appealing for several reasons – it’s not promotional, it’s authentic and it’s written by a colleague.
Advocacy tools make it easy for nervous employees to share content on social media. It’s pre-approved and therefore safe. It can be done via an app and therefore easy.
More importantly, they provide you with the analytics to demonstrate the impact of employee generated content and employee sharing on your website traffic. Use the UTM tracking codes within the advocacy platforms to feed into your Google Analytics dashboard and start measuring the impact of employee generated content vs other content.
5. Give Your Employees A Platform To Voice Their Expertise
If you want to scale this approach and encourage other employees to follow, make it easy for them. No-one goes from “sharing content” to “writing 2000-word blog posts” overnight. At Tribal, we use Passle for ‘commentary blogging’. A quick way to impart our insights around current articles and news stories.
Provide a platform where employees can openly share their expertise at their own pace and in their own time. Provide training and support at various stages of the employee social media learning journey. Offer feedback, optimisation services and analytics to encourage long-term participation.
A Staged Approach To Employee Advocacy 2.0
Building influence through employee advocacy and social selling needs a holistic staged approach.
- First understand who your current social champions are. These will be the people who advocate to other employees internally.
- You then need to appreciate (and accept) not all your employees will want to use social media for work. That’s okay. Don’t force it. Certainly don’t mandate it. This is a cultural shift that will happen over time.
- Next, create social media training tailored to the needs of your employee community. Each employee will start their social media learning journey from different place and perspectives. Also understand they will learn in different ways.
- Finally, appreciate that this social business transformation doesn’t happen overnight. You’re signing up to a marathon, not a sprint and it takes endurance.
Driving Social Business transformation can be a lonely journey. You will face objection and frustration but this is part of the adventure towards transforming your organisation.
Embrace it. Believe in it. Most importantly, stick with it.