Have you ever heard of the phrase employee advocacy? If not, you definitely have seen it in action, and it may have even enticed you to purchase a product or join a service online. The concept of employee advocacy is simple. It’s simply the business model of having employees or staff within a company discuss the business or its products online or through social media, thus increasing brand awareness and bringing in new customers to the business.
Employee advocacy happens in a number of ways when you start to look at the internet and affiliate marketing or referral-based marketing comes into play. A perfect example of this would be on this blog and how a simple recommendation can instantly add thousands of social followers to new entrepreneurs, industry leaders or brands online. At the same time, this also works extremely well in social media, where employees are continually talking about the latest advancements in their company or how they might be attending an upcoming internet marketing conference. Social media is key in the world of employee advocacy, as it’s easy to quickly start following individuals and not only learn more about them and their business, but also gaining trust in them as well.
Just think about how many people or brands you’ve followed online, then met them in real life at a conference. You likely had an immediate connection offline, from your online experience.
To further stress the importance of employee advocacy and how it’s being used by many brands around the world today, we can simply look at some of the latest marketing and business stats making the rounds on the internet today. Smarp, a leading app for employee communications and engagement, focus heavily on the business of employee advocacy and had the following data points to share on their site.
- Fact: according to our data, one employee share generates about 4 clicks on Facebook on average. – Smarp
- “An average employee advocate is 2x more trusted than a company CEO” – Edelman Trust Barometer
- “12% increase in brand advocacy generates a 2x increase in revenue growth” – Reichheld
- “Referred employees are faster to hire, perform better, and stay longer in the company.” – Global Recruiting Trends 2017, LinkedIn Talent Solutions
So what does this mean for businesses and brands of all sizes? Simple… for any business that is already hiring employees and has any type of internet or social media management and communications in place, it should be a requirement to not only teach the value of employee advocacy but to also have them participate as well.
Granted, this all sounds easier than it actually is. Not everyone wants to go sharing information about their company on their personal social media accounts, or just strike up a conversation on why their business can help others out of nowhere… so what’s the better option here?
Invest in ‘Inbound Content Marketing’ of course!
At the heart of every effective branding and employee advocacy campaign, there is a great content creation and marketing plan. Why? Simply because it’s much easier for a business to focus their efforts on creating individual pieces of content that provide a lot of value, versus trying to get everyone on their team to do something different. The benefit here is that such content pieces can be completed, then handed off to their employees, HR, and social media marketing team to share with the world.
Still need a few more examples? Don’t worry… we have you covered!
If you are going to create content, you might as well make sure it’s pretty damn amazing. Focus more time and effort on creating less content, but making sure it’s the best out there. While going through this process, make sure your content is loaded up with case studies, examples, citations, and branded images that will continually represent and promote your brand. Don’t think about just the immediate impact of your content, but instead the lifetime potential ROI it may offer in terms of branding, reach, and recognition.
To spice up your content and marketing efforts even further, see if you might be able to partner up with another big name brand. This can be done to help with resources, finances, user-reach, or even in rev-share opportunities. You can see a few examples here, of some of the best co-branded content campaigns that took place during 2017.
Employee branding content
Not all content needs to be created just for consumers, it can also be done on the business side as well. This type of ‘employer branded content’ could work extremely well for any businesses that are focused on a B2B model.
Since most employees and staff within a company would likely already be using the product or service they promote, individual stories and case studies from employees can prove quite useful to other businesses who could potentially be in need of your service. Just to give you a few working examples, Zappos, Starbucks, and Sprint are doing quite well with their employee branded content efforts.
At the same time, it’s also much easier and more effective to ask employees to share content with their friends, family, and social audience when they are featured within it. Everyone loves to show off their expertise and take in a little vanity here and there.
Industry insights and thought leadership content
Something we have seen all over the place lately is ‘expert roundups’. The process and concept here are quite simple. Come up with one common question and ask a bunch of industry experts for their opinion. Once you have enough answers, you can then compile all of the data and go live with one big mega post.
The benefits here are three-fold.
- The site owner (or brand) gets a lot of great content from industry experts.
- Each expert gets free exposure and promoted as an industry leader.
- Site readers benefit from all of the content and value offered.
From a branding and employee advocacy play, these types of content articles can work wonders for audience reach and to bring in new customers — especially when the experts and leaders share the content with their audiences as well. Imagine the potential here when comparing actual advertising costs to get some of these experts to share or retweet your content, versus actually just featuring them within your content, and getting the social promotion for free.
How to Make the Most of Employee Advocacy in 2018
As you can see, the business of employee advocacy is huge — even if you’ve never heard of the phrase before. As highlighted earlier, it’s also one of the major influences behind the success of many big name brands you are likely using and buying from on a daily basis.
With the internet, social media, and mobile devices making it so easy for everyone to create content and connect with audiences around the world, start thinking about how you can use branded content creation and employee advocacy to grow your business or brand in 2018.