What Can Social Media Marketers and Brand Managers Stand to Gain from Employee Advocacy?
Social media marketers and brand managers alike have the same problem: how can they make their brand's story stand out in today's noisy, always-on, social world? Let's face it, not every ad campaign goes viral and -- even more -- not every social media post reaches the target audience. But this can change. What has lately been lauded by marketers as an unsolvable problem, actually has a relatively simple solution: employee advocacy.
Social media doesn't exist in a vacuum, so why are so many social media marketers expected to perform in a vacuum? Rather than limit their social media presence to just a few social media channels, many Fortune 1000 brands are empowering their employees to advocate for them -- in their own, original voice -- on social media. Brands looking to reach new audiences as well as drive brand loyalty need only look to the people creating, building and selling their products and services.
Employee advocates are some of the best social marketers out there. Employees can help generate brand awareness, new engagement, and new sales. Research from Cisco shows that employees have 10x more followers than corporate social accounts. What's more, a 12% increase in brand advocacy generates a 2x increase in revenue growth.
How are top brands doing this? By offering employees social media training and an Advocate Marketing platform that enables them to quickly and easily share brand-approved content.
More often than not, getting started means identifying internal business partners and getting leadership involved. Company leaders have the ability to model how employees should interact on social media. Support from leadership is a critical component. When leadership is involved employees are more likely to participate. However, most company executives are more than happy to get involved when they see how various departments across their organization stand to benefit from employee advocacy. From marketing, to sales, to recruiting and corporate communications - employee advocacy has the power to drive results that reach higher than ROI (though it drives that too).
For example, take one Fortune 50 retailer who recently launched an employee advocacy program to thousands of their employees at their annual company meeting. This retailer has seen their program adoption double week over week. Not to mention, their social media engagement increased 10X since the program launched.
This Fortune 50 retailer's success was due to their employees' passion and brand pride, as well as the strategic way that they rolled their program out. They first launched with a beta group of about 300 socially savvy marketers and other key stakeholders who helped optimize and improve the program before rolling out to the entire company. After that, the retailer hosted an in-person training and a webinar training to get employees up to speed on the platform and social media basics.
But they didn't stop there, their program's top initiative is to ensure on-going engagement. One way that the retailer is motivating employee engagement is making sure the program is always populated with brand content that is new and fresh. Another best practice is provide a variety of content so that employees always have something interesting and relevant to share.
Thanking and recognizing employees is another critical thing in order to keep employees engaged. The Fortune 50 retailer highlights employees in weekly program updates and provides swag such as t-shirts or gift cards to employees to recognize them for being active advocates. They also provide employees with first access to exclusive content allowing employees to break the news, even before the press, which is a great way to encourage employees to share.
Social media marketers and brand managers everywhere can see better, stronger results with an employee advocacy program. With the company-wide benefits Fortune 1000 companies are seeing -- ranging from driving brand awareness to increasing sales leads, improving recruiting goal and more -- it's all the more obvious that the time to get started is now.
This guest article was written by Dave Hawley, VP of Marketing for SocialChorus.