Perhaps you are already familiar with what employee advocacy is and how it can help you grow your company’s social media presence. Employee advocacy simply explained, is letting your employees become your organization’s biggest cheerleaders. The idea behind this is that people often trust people more than they trust brands. PostBeyond and Golfdale Consulting’s 2018 survey of 2,500 employees and 400 leaders found that 70% of people trusted recommendations from friends and family, but only 15% trusted social media posts coming from brand channels. This is only one piece of statistical evidence that showcases why employee advocacy works and works well.
If you are convinced that you want employee advocacy as part of your social media marketing arsenal, now comes the next big step: determining your use case. What is a use case? Simply explained, it’s a reminder of what your end goal is. It’s your north star, your anchor, the thing that guides and informs your actions toward the ultimate purpose of your employee advocacy program. It’s the answer to the question: What do you hope to achieve with employee advocacy?
For some organizations, the answer is thought leadership: establishing your brand as the expert of the industry you are in. Edelman and LinkedIn discovered that thought leadership gives businesses access to high-level decision makers, contributing significantly to not only lead generation and sales but also establishing a good rapport with existing customers.
Thought leadership is something more complex than just the amount of followers an organization has on their social media networks. Brands who are recognized as thought leaders are seen as genuine and authentic. People see them not as an organization trying to generate income and further their own agenda, but as industry experts working for the betterment of the industry. In an era where information can be shared as easily as the simple click of a button, it’s not a wonder that customers are often wary and suspicious of the products and services they consume. People need to know who they are dealing with, and for them to see your organization as a thought leader, you need to gain their trust.
This is where employee advocacy programs come in. Having a centralized content library with curated posts that stay true to your branding allows C-suite executives in your organization to share content that will establish your company as a thought leader in the industry. It helps to build trust in your customers, both in your products or services as well as with your brand.
For others, their reason for turning to employee advocacy might be that they are in search of talent to onboard. LinkedIn Talent Solutions discovered that people find jobs mostly through referrals. Imagine this: if your company had even 100 employees participating in the program with 200 connections each and they all shared one single post, it can reach roughly 20,000 people in their network. That’s 20,000 potential applicants at almost no cost, people your employees know and can vouch for. Employee advocacy helps in hiring new employees by making sure your job opening is reaching the most relevant people in the industry.
In the same vein, employee advocacy helps improve your company’s relevance and position in the industry. The word ‘company culture’ is thrown around a lot as a buzzword, but potential applicants really pay attention to your brand when trying to decide whether or not to board your ship. Glassdoor has a list of compelling numbers pointing to the importance of good employer brand and company culture for prospective employees. One of them is that as many as 69% of active job seekers would not work for a company if it had a bad reputation. The numbers say it all: people want to identify with an organization, not just a job. Investing in employer branding attracts the best candidates, and the best candidates do the best work.
Finally, some people look to employee advocacy for social selling. Social selling is the sales team’s secret weapon. Having the right kind of content to share with their networks helps them to get the right exposure to prospective buyers and customers. This includes branded as well as unbranded content. It’s using the extremely important channel that is social media to leverage the reach and relevance of your organization. The sales team needs to be equipped with material that shows who they are and the brand they represent, and this can be achieved by having a centralized content library they can easily access. A study by CSO Insights and Seismic found that 39% of B2B professionals said social selling has reduced the amount of time put into account and contact research, and nearly 69% use social selling for lead development.
Social selling should not be confused with spamming, however. No one likes being spammed with messages every week about a product they have no use for. Social selling can help you navigate through all that noise and reach the people that are more likely to benefit from your company’s products or services. It also helps you to see the kinds of things people are looking for, and how you can then make adjustments to your products to better meet the needs of the market.
Knowing your use case is crucial for the success of an employee advocacy program. It helps to inform your actions toward the final goal that you want to achieve within a certain period of time. It tells you what kind of content to provide your employees with to share with their networks. Programs with talent acquisition as a use case should share posts with information about job openings and company culture to promote their brand. Likewise, if your use case is social selling, providing your sales team with branded content, white papers, and online forms will help them to reach more prospective customers and generate leads. Companies looking to become thought leaders in their industry should share not only branded content but also information about their industry to show their expertise and increase their share of voice. With the right management and maintenance, you can empower your employees to help increase your brand presence and ultimately benefit your business in the long run.