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Social media is already part of the mainstream. We can no longer ignore the fact that more than half of the entire population uses social networks every day not only for interpersonal communication, but also to find the best deals, express opinions about products and services, and make their opinions known.
However, many brands still perceive social networks as a channel for one-way communication through advertising. Of course, we know where this perception comes from. For a long time, this type of advertising was dominated by traditional channels such as radio, TV, print, etc., because they were ultimately the only ones available.
Although consumers could perceive this type of advertising as too aggressive, they did not feel that there was an alternative. This approach was successful for most brands, and this legacy affects today's behavior where communicators and marketers continue to insist on classic "push" communications and advertising even though it is obvious that it is not delivering the expected benefits. They simply continue to operate in the way they are used to - even from the point of view of channeling advertising budgets and other resources.
We're not saying that outbound advertising no longer provides value. It's very well recognized that it no longer works as well on digital channels, which, on the other hand, are taking the place of traditional media. This means that brands and organizations need to change not only the distribution channel of their marketing messages, but also the way they communicate.
Old Vs. New consumers and customers
It would be wrong to claim that technology is the one that requires organizations to change their behavior. In fact, technology is the one that has changed consumer behavior, their perception of ownership and choice. Today's consumers are not passive theater audiences, but active co-creators of brand offerings and reputations. Both in a positive and, of course, negative direction. Companies, in turn, must therefore learn to communicate with active consumers/customers who have emerged in a new social and cultural environment and are active on multiple digital social networks simultaneously.
It is also interesting to note that the individual digital social networks in which individuals operate are not necessarily similar in terms of membership in them - a model is increasingly establishing itself in which the digital social networks differ significantly in terms of content and in terms of their members.
What is employee social advocacy?
In every organization there are dedicated employees, i.e. ambassadors, who express their affiliation and willingness to promote the organization in their social media networks. Not only from a personnel point of view, but also from the point of view of trust in the vision and strategy of the organization, its services and products, and the brand. However, they need appropriate tools and, of course, empowerment.
The solution is Employee Social Advocacy, through which employees can easily access content and stories and share them effectively through their digital networks. It doesn't matter if your company is B2B or B2C, in any case, the basis of successful relationships is human to human (H2H).
How does employee social advocacy work?
Employee Advocacy programs consist of three interrelated modules:
Building the organization (strategy and stakeholder alignment, KPIs, recruitment...),
Setting up the tool (a technology platform as a cloud solution)
Education/training of the employees
The technology platform is easy to integrate into the organization's existing IT environment and does not require any intervention in the IT infrastructure. On the one hand, it connects the organization's existing resources that are important for creating or accessing content (internal tools, official communication channels of the organization - website, portals, social network profiles, etc.) with employees, who in this way have easy and transparent access to all the organization's content suitable for external communication. Employees then connect to their private social network profiles, in compliance with the rules of personal data protection (GDPR). The user /employee is guaranteed full privacy as the organization does not see private profiles or the communication on them.
In this way, connected employees get an effective tool for sharing content that can be shared on multiple social networks with one click, achieving time optimization and communication effectiveness. The platform supports the ability to edit content, monitor the effectiveness of shared content, and personification. It is a simple but effective tool for managing content on digital channels, intended for further sharing by employees involved in the advocacy program.
The technology platform also allows for employee-led analytics of platform usage, measurement of response to content shared on employee social networks, and enables tracking of inbound traffic generated by the program.
Empowerment is the key to success
The technology platform is only one aspect of the program, it is a tool that will not deliver the expected results without properly trained and empowered staff.
Therefore, another aspect is required, the training that takes place before the program starts. As part of the training, employees gain urgent social networking skills, learn the ins and outs of communicating through digital channels, and gain insight into how to build and later strengthen their own brand through social networks.
This enables empowered employees to not only identify what content to share and how, but also how to make existing content even more attractive and add authenticity and value to it.
Let's start with an analogy that can easily illustrate the connection between employee-facing communication and corporate or brand communication. Let's say the brand is represented as a sphere, and the employees are like a bag of marbles. In sum, they have the same volume, as both, submerged in water, would push out the same amount of water. But the difference is in the surface area, because the total surface area of all the marbles is much greater than the surface area of the sphere. The reach that your employees have can be easily calculated by multiplying the number of employees who use social media by the number of friends (followers) on their social profiles, which averages around 800.
Here, we assume that 60% of the employees are present on social media. So if the company has 500 employees, it has a potential reach of 240,000 people, which is usually much more than the reach of the company's official profiles and the profiles of all its brands combined. In addition, in recent years, the organic reach of posts by companies on social media has dropped to almost zero.
And it's definitely not just about reach. Equally or more important is the "humanization" of the brand. Friends, relatives and acquaintances of employees read and perceive content and messages shared by employees themselves very differently than messages posted by the company through official channels.
From a marketing perspective, employee advocacy has emerged in recent years as the most effective tool for creating leads, driving sales and increasing brand awareness. It is therefore not surprising that virtually all leading global multinational companies have established employee advocacy programs in recent years, gradually expanding them from pilot projects to company-wide programs.
Since we have an extensive database from various industries and regions, we can now speak of empirical confirmation of the effectiveness of employee advocacy. In particular, when compared to official corporate communication and marketing channels, it is confirmed that content shared by employee "ambassadors" is infinitely more effective: They register 8 times higher engagement of the target audience. Similarly, paid ads are significantly less effective than content shared by employee "ambassadors." Official brand content is 24 times more likely to be shared if it is shared by employees and not just through official communication channels.
The reasons for this efficiency are hidden in the simple fact that a full 84 percent of respondents to the question "Who do you trust most when learning about a product, service or company?" answered "Friends in their network and employees themselves." So the opinions of your own employees are very influential.
All this should also be seen in the context of the gradual increase of advertising prices in social networks, for example, the cost of advertising on Facebook has multiplied in recent years. LinkedIn, as the most recognized professional social network, is much more expensive - the cost of advertising is about $ 5 per click.
By comparison, sharing content and stories through employee advocacy is, of course, an earned value measured only by an investment in the program. And since that investment is incomparably lower than the Earned Media Value (EMV), it's fair to say that the program has exceptional financial appeal - the ROI is between a multiplier of 3 for the pilot (50 employees) and 20 for the larger number of employees in the program (500+ employees).
In most cases, when introducing employee advocacy programs, the greatest ROI can be achieved precisely in the marketing communication of the company or market brand. Based on reference projects, we see that Employee Advocacy increases the reach of your content, influencing brand visibility and purchase intent. At the same time, we see growth in traffic to websites (or other platforms), reduced advertising costs and increased revenue through higher quality sales leads.
Some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) we can track here are:
Earned Media Value (EMV), conversions,
Website Bounce Rate,
purchase intention and degree of NPS trends
When employees share content on social media, they can influence their network of friends and acquaintances, regardless of what department or field they work in. With an employee advocacy program, sales reps are no longer alone, as everyone in the company can contribute to the sale. There are numerous examples. For example, content shared by a fellow engineer on their profiles is just as important in helping the salesperson get a quality lead that later converts into a realized sale.
Leads from the employee advocacy program are of better quality, as experience shows they are 7 times more likely to convert than other leads. This opens up many opportunities to reward other employees outside of the sales department based on the sales impact of their activity in the program, as the platform can identify content and employees whose actions on social media resulted in sales.
HR - from employer branding, employee engagement, retention to recruiting
Corporate HR often acts as a liaison between company and employee interests, to the benefit of both parties.
In this regard, the employee advocacy program serves as a connectivity tool that links different departments, helps create shared values and builds an internal culture. Thus, when the company trusts employees to become brand ambassadors, it empowers the employee and increases their attachment to the company.
In this part, the most important and commonly used method is measuring employee engagement, which can be further elaborated only for employees who are part of the advocacy program.
Your employees are your best messengers because they have a branched network of social media links that trusts them.
Your employees can communicate your culture, values and activities in the most authentic way. Employee Social Advocacy is their natural extension that serves as an amplifier of your Employer Branding program.
Your employees are connected through social media with people who have similar interests and profiles, people who could be your best job candidates in the future. And the latter is even more important in a time when companies are competing not only for customers, but also for staff.
In the search and selection processes, we can directly measure performance through employee advocacy programs, as we can use traceability to identify the most influential employees and those who have helped by sharing content and advertising to make these processes faster and more efficient. In fact, employees can effectively replace the intermediaries that usually exist, such as recruitment agencies, in one part of the recruitment process to search and select suitable candidates for the vacancy.
In doing so, employees will be more efficient - statistics show that up to 45% of job seekers are more likely to apply for vacancies if an advert is shared by someone in their network of contacts.
Employee social advocacy doesn't necessarily mean that only your employees participate in the program. Engaging brand ambassadors, influencers, fans, partners, and other stakeholders in the program brings you one step closer to Social Business.
Employee Social Advocacy can serve many purposes at once and provide the following benefits:
Increase your reach (customer visibility)
Build trust and create authentic experiences
Save costs (direct comparison with digital advertising campaigns)
Improve employee engagement (open culture, empowerment)
Build an employer brand with a direct impact on recruitment and staffing processes
Generate sales, studies indicate that 12% increase in brand advocacy generates 2x increase in revenue growth.
Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently than other leads
We can help you achieve these benefits. For more, click here.