As an organisation, putting your employees in front of your brand is the most authentic way to conduct your marketing. Authenticity is key to successful social selling and people, rather than brands or logos, are far more likely to be trusted for their opinions.
Let’s look at the statistics:
- Productivity improves by 20-25% in organisations with connected employees (suggesting that social activity improve morale and engagement)
- Social businesses experience a higher proportion of referral-based hires; converted 55% faster, cost less to recruit, quicker to onboard and stay longer (suggesting that, not only do people tell their network that theirs is a great place to work, but that the culture of being socially connected is something that today’s employees are looking for)
- 86% of advocates say that being involved in social media has positively impacted their career (suggesting that employees who adopt and engage with an advocacy program can genuinely benefit on an individual basis)
But how do you ensure that the employee advocacy program that you implement is going to drive such wide-ranging success?
Sonia Rosua-Clyne, Global Employee & Partner Advocacy Manager at Sage, puts it succinctly in the recent Tribal Impact/Onalytica Employee Advocacy 2.0 report, when she says “Your employees are the heart and soul of your company – who better to talk about you? Coach, train, enable and incentivize your colleagues to talk about your brand to generate valuable impressions that are impossible to replicate with company posts. Why? Because people trust people. They are far more likely to believe a positive statement written by a person they know than an advert served to them by a company they’ve only just heard of.”
That leads us nicely to our next point: activation is more than just a start date.
Initially, you need to look for social heroes; early adopters who are already active on social media. These people can be used as a case study for the next wave of adopters. They can share their knowledge, even take part in training or trouble-shooting. Training and education in the point of an advocacy program is something that needs to operate simultaneously alongside your advocacy program. There is never a time when training is not needed. Even those who understand and are adept at the social side of the program may still need educating on the current message to be shared.
The ultimate successful outcome is the creation of advocacy influencers, who can really drive the profile of the brand in a natural and authentic way. These people not only need to understand the program itself but also need the confidence and knowledge to create high-value original content.
Caroline Jory, Engagement Director at Qubist, echoes this: “Real influence is the ability to affect or change behavior. It is not popularity (like much of influencer advertising). Employees have this ability to influence, so when they are harnessed in their thousands it drives huge levels of authentic awareness and engagement.”
As the program progresses and becomes more embedded into your organisation, it is important to ensure the circle is closed in terms of keeping the content feed relevant. A major part of achieving this is through social listening.
Social media and search engines are using ever-more complex algorithms to serve people only with content that they are likely to find interesting. However, brands cannot just create content that their target audience will find useful; your job is to find a way to work strategically around the algorithms and ensure you can still own the conversation at times.
A tricky balance to find but one which, according to Brian Fanzo, Founder & CEO of iSocialFanz, is well worth the effort: “The nice part about employee advocacy is that it actually shrinks the distance between the brand and the customer, but at the same time it allows the brand to reach more people and have a much more humanized voice.” And the benefits to you and your brand don’t stop there. If you have an embedded advocacy program, you can expect to experience increased reach, engagement and brand awareness, all of which will help you to influence the buyer journey.
This, in turn, enables you to increase your lead conversion and improve your brand perception, trust and confidence. Add the fact that socially active businesses attract and retain more top talent and employee advocacy makes a pretty compelling case for itself.