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Employee Advocacy: Marketing Engine of the Future?

You need to purchase new software on behalf of your company – how do you decide which product/company to choose? You probably go and check out some vendor websites and ask the opinion of people you know and trust, but would you ask a vendor’s employees what they think about their company?

Fact is that employees’ social posts generate 8X more engagement than posts from their employer. Wow! This has the potential to radically alter the marketing landscape by changing the way we discover and buy goods and services.

What is employee advocacy?

As traditional marketing practises like advertising lose effect in this noisy, ‘always-on’ world, new methods – like employee advocacy – are stepping in to take to take their place (for more on this topic see my blog, “Inbound Marketing: What Comes After the Tipping Point?”).

 Employee advocacy is empowering a company’s employees to support the goals of the brand using company content cascaded via employee-owned social channels. Said another way: it’s word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age. Through employee advocacy we can increase share of voice by encouraging employees across the company to be more active on social media.

Why is it good for marketing?

Giving employees a voice on social media accomplishes two key goals for marketers:

1. Brand awareness/reach

According to Dynamic Signal, with employee advocacy, “You can increase brand awareness by 14x. Your employees are already on social all the time. The average social employee has 10x more followers than your corporate network and 90% of their social audience is new to the brand.”

This is significant because increased brand awareness drives customer loyalty, which drives revenue.

In fact, having 135 employee advocates is more powerful than having 1,000,000 Facebook fans. Why? As the graphic below demonstrates, employees’ social networks amplify reach in a big way.

EE Graphic

2. Trust

Now more than ever, people want to buy from people, not faceless companies. In fact, according to WeRSM, only 15% of people trust recommendations from brands, while a whopping 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know.

This stat is backed by compelling research from the 2014 Edleman’s Trust Barometer. As the chart below indicates, not only do customers trust their peers and regular company employees, their trust in these sources is on a dramatic rise.

Edelman Trust Barometer

Why is it good for business?

Employee advocacy programs have the power to deliver results beyond marketing value and can have a huge impact on the business.

Social selling: According to a recent Social Media and Sales Quota Survey, more than 40% of salespeople say they have closed between two and five deals as a result of social media.

Customer insight: In the Globe and Mail, Peter Aceto, the CEO of Tangerine Bank, says, “I would rather engage in a Twitter conversation with a single customer than see our company attempt to attract the attention of millions in a coveted Superbowl commercial.”

His sentiments are echoed in a Harvard Business article,  “The 7 attributes of CEOs who get social media,” which explains that savvy CEOs “don’t want to hear input from customers filtered through 13 layers of management. They want their input raw and without any manipulation.”

Attracting  talent: Enabling your employees to post about job openings and talk about why they like their job is an incredible competitive advantage. A Fast Company article, “How to Make Your ‘Employer Brand’ Shine and Attract The Best Tech Talent,” mentions this success story from Apple: “Apple, coming in at number three on the employer brand index, features photos and quotes from current employees on its job website. In other words, the company has effectively turned its employees into brand advocates.”

Marketing Engine of the Future?

Employee advocacy is a new source of trust for today’s consumer. It has the power to fuel brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and drive new revenue. So is it a Marketing Engine of the future? As “word of mouth” marketing for the digital age, I think the answer is YES!  Do you agree?


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Inbound Marketing: What Comes After the Tipping Point?

“Inbound marketing is more effective than outbound marketing.”  

Sound like a quote from a recent marketing article? It’s actually a key takeaway from my doctoral thesis, published back in 2008 and entitled, “How Companies Use Customer Insight to Drive Customer Acquisition, Development, and Retention.”

No, I’m not Nostradamus, nor do I have a crystal ball. But, for a long time, I have been watching the signs that B2B buyers’ needs and patterns are changing.

Today, buyers – not sellers – are firmly in the driver’s seat. In fact, according to a recent DemandGen Buyer Behaviour report, almost half of buyers create a short-list of potential vendors and a third conduct initial research on solution options before the first communication with a sales rep. (For more on the evolution of buyer behaviour, see my blog post: Smarketing: A Sales and Marketing Love Story)

How are buyers conducting this research? Through search engines, vendor websites, and social media sites.

Hence the tipping point for inbound marketing. But what comes next? Here’s how I see the marketing landscape changing over the next 12 – 18 months:

1. Social media will gain traction in new ways

Social media is playing an increased role in marketing and buyers are now connecting to sellers via social channels rather than just browsing. DemandGen reports that 72% of respondents said they used social media to research the solution purchase.

This total is unchanged since 2013. What HAS changed is that there is a 57% increase in buyers connecting directly with potential solution providers via social networking channels. So they’re no longer just browsing social channels to do research, they’re using social channels to connect directly with sellers.

2. Marketers will adjust their budgets accordingly 

In reaction to buyer behaviour, marketers will continue to adjust their spend on inbound marketing. Sirius Decisions predicted back in 2013 that there would be a slight increase from 51% to 53% spent on inbound marketing by 2015. But what’s really interesting is the portion spent on social media: a big bump up from 36% to 44%.

3. Traditional sales and marketing roles will be turned on their heads   

We used to say, “Marketing opens the door and sales charges through it to close the deal.” Today, social media is driving role reversals within sales and marketing functions.

Increasingly, marketers are learning more about customers through their digital footprint and social media usage. We’re using real-time, behavioural data and analytics to complete a 360 view of the customer. And we’re leveraging this deep customer insight to close deals – because we’re able to make the right offer through the right channel at the right time.

Conversely, salespeople are now using social selling techniques to open doors with clients and prospects. They’re using social channels to connect, start conversations, and share knowledge and content. These nurturing techniques are paying off. According to a recent Social Media and Sales Quota Survey, more than 40% of salespeople say they have closed between two and five deals as a result of social media.

4. Revenue Marketing will become Profit Marketing  

Using Revenue Marketing principles, sales and marketing have begun to ensure that marketing strategies align with sales and business objectives to generate a measurable return to the bottom line.

But that’s just step one. As marketing shifts from a cost centre to a revenue centre, there is a deeper realization of the fact that not all customers are created equal. Inbound marketing tends to generate more new customer logos than outbound marketing. Based on lifetime customer value, new customers could be more desirable to a company which could translate into more importance placed on inbound techniques.

5. Employee advocacy will fuel marketing  

Although traditional advertising techniques (like TV advertising) are on the decline, social media makes it possible for employees to be a company’s best brand champions. Employee advocacy programs empower a company’s employees to support the goals of the brand using content and employee-owned social channels. This approach can have a huge impact on marketing and sales. According to Dynamic Signal, a digital marketing company, “Your employees are already on social all the time. And since people trust their social connections more than marketing messages, you can increase brand awareness by 14x and sales leads by 25%.” (Stay tuned for more on this topic in an upcoming blog post).

When will these 5 trends reach their tipping points? Last time my crystal ball looked 7 years ahead so let’s set it at 5 years this time – 2020! Watch this space….

Are you seeing sales and marketing changes in your markets and geographies? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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#CiscoChat: The 2015 Cisco Midyear Security Report

The Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report provides an overview of key threats observed in the first half of 2015, along with insights on current and future trends and advice for organizations that utilize security solutions and services. Coinciding with a theme, The Innovation Dogfight between Attackers and Security Vendors, this year’s report is a clear realization that just as quickly as network security personnel and CXOs innovate their security measures, adversaries and their malware seem to be several steps ahead.

Join our next #CiscoChat on Thursday, August 13, at 10:00 a.m. PST: @CiscoSecurity hosts Talos technical leader, Craig Williams, to discuss the report’s findings and implications for organizations and attack defenders.

TW_CiscoChat Security_MidYear Report Read More »

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Which Business Wireless Product is Right For You?

There’s a simple new Wireless Products Selector on that we hope will make it quicker to choose the right wireless product for you. It’s right at the top of our Wireless products page:


This leads to a very simple, intuitive tool that guides you to choosing the right wireless access point or wireless LAN controller:


Feel free to take it for a spin!



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New #SocialRoundup: How New Live-Streaming Video Applications are Changing Views on Content

It’s estimated that nearly three-fourths of the world’s mobile data traffic will be in the form of video content by 2019, with an expected 13-fold increase between 2014 and 2019. And more than half of the mobile devices connected to the network will be “smart” ones. As mobility continues to expand, Cisco, like many brands, is exploring the most innovative ways to integrate real-time video with our social media to engage with customers, influencers and employees.

YouTube and Google+ Hangout On Air have been steady options. But newer tools like Periscope and Meerkat allow users to share and watch live video broadcasts around the world using a mobile device. And these tools are changing the way we use live-streaming video apps.

Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, is an app we at Cisco have already begun using to share our content. At our recent Cisco Live! IT education and training conference in San Diego, Read More »

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