One of the most powerful marketing strategies that has stood the test of time is word-of-mouth. The reason why it’s such an effective channel is that it focuses on a very simple idea: people trust people.
Platforms like Yelp or Google Reviews are highly used because they leverage real opinions written by real people. As consumers, we crave real opinions by real people because there’s a certain level of authenticity that sponsored or branded messages can’t achieve. There’s less “marketing speak” coming from the voice of someone who’s just like you.
You’ll most likely trust the restaurant recommendation from a friend who ate there last week as opposed to a print advertisement you just saw. The 4.5 stars on Yelp is more powerful than a sponsored advertisement, which you and I both know was paid for.
This is what makes the rise of influencer marketing such an interesting trend to watch right now. Brands are tapping into their most trusted and influential people – their employees – to be the voice of their brand, without any incentives.
The data speaks for itself on why the employee voice is so influential; 70% of adults online reported trusting recommendations from friends and family, but only 15% trusted companies’ social media posts.
Why Influencer Marketing Works
Traditionally, influencer marketing leverages a celebrity or athlete who has a massive following and global fanbase. Unlike an athlete like Christian Ronaldo who has over 161 Instagram Followers, real people have their own niche followings that can inspire and influence.
That’s the appeal of leveraging real people to be influencers. The same authenticity that can be found on Yelp can also be tapped into.
As Forbes accurately put it, “the goal of influencer marketing is advocacy. Influencer marketing should be honest and authentic.” Your influencers should want to speak about your company, product or service because they are generally interested and bought-in, not because they are being paid.
The Convergence of Influencer Marketing and Employee Advocacy
The most influential people for your organization aren’t necessarily celebrities, especially for B2B brands. They also don’t have to be top executives who have clout in an organization. Often, the most influential people are your employees. Each individual has their own untapped social media following.
Here are several stats that speak to the value of employee advocacy:
- Company branded messages reach 561% further when shared by employees versus branded channels. (The Year of Social Advocacy)
- 70% of adults online reported trusting recommendations from friends and family, but only 15% trusted companies’ social media posts. (Nielsen)
- Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. (Social Media Today)
Employee advocacy is especially effective when your employees are in customer-facing roles such as Sales and Business Development, Marketing or Account Management. They are constantly on the front-line of your organization and have a direct line of sight to your target audience.
Equipping your employees with business insights, resources, and content provides them the opportunity to build their own thought leadership on social media.
Empower Employees to Be Your Best Influencers
Provide your employees with a real voice on social media and empower them to be a part of your employee advocacy strategy. Influence is about getting real people to share your message with a much more relevant audience. There isn’t a better group of potential influencers than your own employees.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the topic of influencer marketing and employee advocacy, watch this webinar.
We had renowned social media expert and speaker, Neal Schaffer, join us to discuss the link between employee advocacy and influencer marketing. He gave us an inside look at how companies can leverage influencers to increase the reach of their message.