But who’s going to actually do the work?
Well, you could employ or co-opt a young intern who is completely at home with social media, you could outsource the work to an agency, or you could train an existing marketing professional to manage the channels.
Now each of these has potential flaws. But what if you could harness the power of your entire workforce? What if they could all become ambassadors for your company?
Not only does this give you a way to manage your social media marketing and content creation, it massively amplifies your presence and it draws on the DNA that sets your company apart.
This past week LinkedIn has launched a brand new product - Elevate - that helps companies and employees curate high-quality content, share easily to social networks, and measure the impact.
If a serious business to business network like LinkedIn thinks it’s important, surely you should take a look at the benefits?
Here are 10 reasons to develop employee advocates:
- Your employees are already talking directly with your customers and are most likely to be connected to potential customers.
- If your staff are talking about your company, its products and services online, why not put a loose framework around that? You should have a policy to cover this area in any event and, with a bit of training and guidance, those conversations can help to spread the brand message.
- Did you know that 50 per cent of employees actually want to share news and information about their company? (Social Media and Sales Quota)
- You can increase your audience tenfold by using employees' reach. Up to 90 per cent of an employee’s social contacts will be new to your brand. (Dell)
- This is one of the major benefits of employee advocacy – it can significantly increase your effective reach, bringing your message to a whole new audience.
- Employees are likely to be on many social networks where you don’t have a presence. They may be on Reddit, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, and others that you don’t have either the time or resources to engage in. They will also be connected with people on closed networks like Facebook – people you would never normally be able to communicate with.
- Employees are trusted twice as much as senior level managers and executives (Edelman Trust Barometer). And 92 per cent of people trust individuals – whereas only 14 per cent trust brands. So employees and technical experts are trusted far more than sales people, managers, directors and brands. Prospects and customers make decisions based on their peer network and trusted sources. Employee advocates can break through and convert prospects at a much higher rate - twice that of brand sales efforts.
- You can spread the load of content creation. One of the biggest issues facing content managers is producing enough quality content. Content marketing has to be sustained and consistent to reap the full benefits. Writing articles, reporting news, assembling case studies and the like, all takes time. What if you could have an army of content producers working for your business?
- Engaged employees are more productive and more concerned about customer satisfaction. 40 per cent to 80 per cent of customer satisfaction is affected by employee attitudes. (NBRI)
- Even a small amount of employee advocacy can increase market share and revenue.
- It’s good for employee retention and staff turnover. 20 per cent are more likely to stay at the company. (Edelman Trust Barometer)
But you can’t just tell employees they are all employee advocates now and point them at the Internet – that would be a recipe for confusion, loss in productivity, loss of brand reputation and may ultimately result in major disaster and revenue loss.
You need to create a programme that includes the establishment of policies, training to cover blogging and social media professionally and to cover customer service and marketing, and a mentoring scheme. There may well be some element of culture change involved too – both among employees and senior management.
It’s also important to recognise that not everyone will be able to swim in the social sea, and no employee should be forced to engage – that simply doesn’t work and is destructive for both employee and business. On the other hand, the programme may well help to identify social champions who can help drive the programme forward and support other advocates.
Here, of course, we should declare a vested interest. At Equinet we work with companies to develop their employees into valuable advocates. We help them to establish policies, to implement systems, we train their staff and guide them through the process.
All of which produces employee advocates who can amplify your marketing reach by a factor of ten and double your conversion rate while enjoying greater job satisfaction. Employee advocates are a great way to scale your social media and content marketing performance.