Learn to share – our simple guide to employee advocacy – 24/7 reliance on technology with instant answers and instant buying power has empowered your customers and, buyer empowerment therefore, has created a new age of competitive advantage. Your staff can help you tap into this.
Last month, we looked at the benefits of employee advocacy – getting your own staff to help plug your brand, share its philosophy and spread its good news among their own social media contacts. Due to popular request, we have expanded further on the subject below.
Unsurprisingly, research has shown that both consumers and B2B buyers trust people they know the most. In a 2015 Forrester’s survey, the top source of information for software buyers was advice from peers – it came above vendor websites, sales people and tech information websites. And in a North American Consumer Technographics Online Benchmark Survey, consumers said they trusted recommendations from friends and family far more than professional online reviews, consumer-written reviews and posts by companies and the brands.
So, you can see how encouraging your own employees to advocate your products and services can be far more effective than your own social media. Its also important to recognise that, for the most part, employees want to feel part of something bigger than themselves and this scheme will bring together different parts of the organisation.
Not only are your staff likely to have more influence with their contacts but they can make your reach much wider. Imagine, for instance, a large company with social media channels that reach around 4 million followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
With employee advocacy, you can increase this reach by around 40 times. If the same company has 200,000 employees and each of them as 400 contacts, suddenly the company’s reach is expanded to around 80 million contacts.
The employees’ contacts are much more likely to engage with them than with your company posts, and you are probably going to reach people who are new to your brand. Not only that but their messages are more likely to be shared.
So that’s great news for your company’s message – but there’s more…
Employees who take part in advocacy schemes are far more likely to feel engaged in the company’s ethos and programmes. They feel as if they are more invested in the company – and guess what, that makes them more satisfied in their day-to-day job and more likely to stay with the company.
So, of course you want to do this! So how do you start?
First of all you need to know you have secure buy-in from the stakeholders in your business, ie, executives, departments and employees.
For the executives, highlight why the scheme will positively impact the business, the brand and the culture. If a top priority in your organisation is building the brand, concentrate on increase of total brand awareness as a result of employee amplification.
Where employee engagement is a top priority, focus on visibility, connectiveness, and overall employee satisfaction.
Make sure that communication is clear for everyone, that they understand what’s in it for them, and how you are going to drive this forward.
Employees may have different ideas about social media, and their out-of-work lives will affect the time they can spend on something ‘extra’. Make sure that there is a broad spectrum of opportunity that allows for this.
Choose your goals
Next, establish what your goals are – perhaps you want to boost your social reach and audience, or maybe you are hoping to generate sales leads from this – or maybe you want to just help to boost employee engagement. Most companies will want to do at least two of these.
We suggest you start the programme with a small test group of advocates for a pilot run. You’ll want to start with employees who are social media savvy so that they can help you discover any problems and come up with their own ideas on the best way to proceed. Remember that HR will need to produce a social media policy to ensure the guidelines are clear.
While your test group may be keen because they are big fans of social media, you will have to come up with ways of motivating them long term, particularly as you bring more employees on board.
- Selling the scheme as improving their career is one way – particularly if they can be seen as an industry expert to those outside your organisation.
- Showing gratitude for their efforts is also going to help them stay on board – and there’s no harm in a little healthy competition. Rewards for those that top the leader board are a simple way to encourage people to take part.
- Plenty of support will also keep people on board. Be prepared to be available to troubleshoot and ensure that clear guidelines are in place from the start, to ensure employees feel comfortable with what is being asked of them. Offer them a suggested mix of content – for instance 20% about products and launches, 30% about your company’s culture and 50% about the market itself. You might also prepare a content calendar.
- Ensure that their success stories are shared within the organisation – and think about finding ways to bring together the employees who are passionate about the scheme, and allow them to swap content with each other.
Finally, you need to be able to report back to stakeholders on the success of your scheme, so ensure that you are tracking the right metrics – logging clicks, shares, and likes, as well as sales leads and other successes. Then make sure the results are shared with all the right people – including your employee advocates!
If you have any questions on this matter or would like to talk about your marketing requirements, please call Alison Page on tel: 07963 002065 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can of course browse our website to see what our existing clients have to say about our work.