A few company employees were hanging around the break room at lunch hour when the Marketing Manager buttonholes them. “Hey Stella, Angela, Paulie, Susan and Mr Sugar Tower, will you guys please take some time out every week to post `likes’ on our company’s Facebook posts?” he says. “And leave some comments too while you’re at it?”
“What a cool idea!” gushes Stella and Angela, who are young marketing interns. “We’ve been reading all about Employee Advocacy as a social media tool, and this will surely back up our other marketing strategies beautifully!”
So Stella and Angela get onto it right after lunch, and so does Paulie, the Manager’s latest hire who wants to curry favors with the boss. Susan from HR and Mr Sugartower, who’s in merchandizing, on the other hand, couldn’t give a rat’s ass about pleasing the Marketing Manager. They forget all about Employee Advocacy by the time they have cleared up the debris from their mid-day meal. Stella and Angela post up a storm for a few weeks, until their enthusiasm peters out, or they go back to school, and Paulie, whose half-hearted comments, likes etc. elicited no positive response from the Marketing manager, quietly stops as well.
Another Employee Advocacy attempt in yet another company dies without ever realizing its full potential. And the company loses an incredible opportunity to convert social interactions into solid, sales leads. 8 times over!
8 times over! Did you hear that? Whoever thought Employee Advocacy as a marketing strategy could possibly haul such powerful traction.
But it does, as case studies are proving over and over again, and not least because there are over 50 millionbusiness pages currently on Facebook – each raising such a cacophony of sales pitches every day that exhausted customers want to drag these companies out from newsfeeds and smack them individually into silence.
In this social atmosphere of dull marketing overkill, employees have the advantage of novelty to say something personal, to do something different that people will probably stop to listen. Their direct involvement via an Employee Advocacy Program will humanize the company’s sales agenda and basically put real people on both sides of the digital exchange.
Unfortunately, this goldmine of an opportunity to mobilize existing human assets is not being fully utilized by most companies because of a lack of confidence in its veracity and practical knowhow. And it’s the social marketing agencies, working with various businesses, who are in a unique position to create, train and manage structured Employee Advocacy programs that will yield rich results.
Here’s just some of them:
Employees Can Increase Brand Reach Exponentially
According to Social Chorus, brand employees have 10 times as many connections on social media platforms than the brand itself. Think of this as a family tree, with the brand at the helm, and it’s offsprings (employees) shooting out their own branches, continuously adding more members, and helping the family tree to grow and flourish.
They Are Easier To Trust
Employee advocates are trusted by 90 per cent of people on social media. And building trust is the first stepping stone to any relationship a company may want to build with its customers.
Employee Shares Stay Alive For Much Longer
Promotional content from employees’ private social pages is re-shared 24 times more often than when shared on company pages by the brands themselves.
Employee Advocacy Campaigns Perform Better Than Straight-Up Marketing Ones
Companies like IBM and Starbucks have already discovered this. The human voice of employees resonates more persuasively with customers at the bottom of the sales funnel, all primed up to be converted. The @Tweetacoffee campaign by Starbucks, for example, was madly successful, generating thousands of tweets, and it was managed solely by Starbucks employees (or partners, as the company calls them).
Employees Actually Enjoy The Responsibility Of Advocacy
Employees of socially-engaged companies are 20 per cent more likely to stay and help build a company. Engaged employees inspire businesses to outperform their competition by 202 per cent, and involving staff members in a well-structured advocacy program is an excellent way to unite them under the banner of the company mission. (Incidentally, an average of 61 per cent of workers do not even know the mission statement of the company they work for.)
Happy Employees Make Happy Advocates
A social media program that depends on people participation is a valuable team-building tool as well. Imagine this: a workers who is cooped up all day in the fulfillment department, packaging and shipping orders outs, logs onto his/her social media account to see that the CEO has personally taken the trouble to `like’ or `reply’ to their comment. What does that do for morale? Sends it shooting sky high, of course!
Adding extra incentives injects a spirit of fun and healthy competition among the staff, and breaks down barriers of corporate hierarchy in the social space – where it shouldn’t exist anyway – while at the same time, promoting the brand’s marketing efforts. What could be more beautiful than that?
As writer and editor, Nabanita (Nita) has worn many hats. She started her career as a magazine journalist – and launched and edited India’s largest-selling weekend magazine (`Brunch’) before moving to the United States in 2007. She has also written travel books (for the award-winning `To Asia With Love’ series) and countless columns and articles for newspapers and magazines in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia. She has been working in digital content marketing for over 10 years now with a relentless curiosity about what drives and motivates people when they’re interacting in the online space.