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.
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.
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?