What if I told you that one of the biggest marketing opportunities for your brand starts with your staff? It’s true. Your employees are the heart of your company and can be your biggest advocates to help drive your brand’s message to your target demographic.
Advocates. Evangelists. Ambassadors. These are all just a few monikers given to the people who believe in what your brand stands for. So what does this exactly entail? Employee advocacy is a term given to a marketing strategy that encourages employees of a brand to display a company’s mission through social media channels, emails, blogs, vlogs, and online forums.
So why should businesses of all sizes jump on the advocacy bandwagon?
Given the current marketing trends, we know that consumers identify with a brand that can humanize itself in their advertising. On top of that, people consistently out-engage and outperform brands on social media.
Social media has changed the way people communicate and how consumers consume media. While you may be focusing your efforts on the more traditional forms of owned media efforts, looking to the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels of your employees will help you personalize your message and expand your reach to unique audiences. The influence your employees have on all these channels can take your brand’s exposure to new heights without you having to dip into your marketing budget.
Power of the people
Simply put—people are more naturally engaging than brands. In fact, over 75% of people say they trust content shared by a person more than content shared by an actual brand. With half the world’s population using some form of social media, to say there is a huge opportunity in applying employee advocacy in your marketing strategy is an understatement.
Additionally, over 98% of employees surveyed in this study say they are already using their personal accounts to engage with friends, family, and audiences around the globe. On top of that, another study indicated that a recommendation from a family member or friend makes someone 83% more likely to engage with a brand or purchase a product.
What’s in it for you and your brand?
Build brand awareness
Given those numbers above, it’s safe to say that employee advocacy is one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness. Sure, your organic and paid social media advertisements may help you draw in new customers, but brand advocates can make a more meaningful impact by getting their friends, family and followers on board. Think of it this way—if you’re looking for a new spin or yoga studio to go to, wouldn’t you ask a like-minded friend or family member what the best studio is? Of course you would. Knowing that another human being stands behind a brand makes the studio more appealing since it has won the affection of someone you trust.
Enhance executive presence
As I mentioned before, social media is evolving at a very rapid rate. As an executive of your company, your day-to-day tasks probably don’t leave you much time to stay abreast of current trends or post to your personal social channels on a daily basis. This is where your employee advocates can lend you a hand without you having to lift a finger. Have them introduce you to their audience by making a post about real-world proof of your brand’s mission and core values. By introducing the executive team to their list of followers, you have ample opportunity to establish thought leadership in your industry.
Positively impacts lead generation
Consumers love brands that have happy employees. The more employees you recruit to be brand ambassadors, the more eyes you’ll get on your brand. As your brand awareness increases, so does your credibility. You know what that means? You’ll have more high-quality web leads and inbound demo requests to scope your brand out. In fact, brand messages reached 561% more people when the message was shared by employees versus it being shared via official brand social channels.
Improves social recruiting
When looking for new recruits to join your brand, it’s in your best interest to find people who align with your company’s mission. By having your current team and leadership active on social media and posting content that praises your brand, you will attract like-minded job seekers. Once these candidates are officially part of the team, they’ll be happy to advocate for your brand on their own personal pages.
Maximize your own KPIs
You won’t find a better or more willing partner to enhance your KPIs than your team of employee advocates. Your social and digital key metrics establish the health of your brand’s marketing campaigns. By empowering your employees and their followers to share your message, your brand’s impressions, engagements, referral traffic and conversions will sky rocket. According to a report by Social Media Today, content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels.
Create your brand advocacy program
While it may be appealing to simply tell your staff to start sharing your brand’s mission on their personal social media channels, this route can cause some issues. First, people need some type of direction on what types of posts you’d like them to share. Second, you can’t, or at least shouldn’t, force every employee to share your brand’s content on social.
This is where a brand advocacy program comes into play. If you’re worrying that you can’t afford to create your own, just know that an employee advocacy program usually costs just 10% of what paid advertising costs.
Trust and allow for creativity
While it’s helpful to have guidelines in place for brand-sponsored posts, you should always allow your employees some wiggle room for authenticity in their posts. When a brand gets too involved in the tone and structure of a post, it can be blatantly obvious that this post didn’t truly come from them.
Think about it. Most of their followers are people who have either personally known them for years or have followed their account for a while. They’re posts have their own personal style, voice, and tone; bogging their Instagram down with sales-focused copy can deter their followers from engaging with the post and put a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to your brand. Need a simple solution for this? Have your brand advocates work with your marketing consultant or team to help them come up with a message that makes both parties happy.
Help them grow (and report on it)
In order to grow your audience on social channels, you need to be pushing out relevant and relatable content on a consistent basis. Encourage your advocates to post on a weekly or monthly basis to help their follower lists—and your brand’s—grow more and more each day. Track your new followers and host weekly meetings to go over this progress with your advocates. You can also use this time to see which types of posts are working and which ones aren’t performing as well. Which posts have turned into leads? Which new followers are engaging the most with your brand?
Remember to give kudos to your team for going the extra mile to help support your dream of growing your brand—maybe treat them to a lunch or a happy hour for their hard work. Any type of appreciation you show them will encourage them to keep advocating for your brand.