For the past 6 years I have helped implementing employee advocacy in companies ranging from a hundred to thousands of employees, and therefore have firsthand experience on how they have gained significant competitive advantages. The early adopters, have two major things in common; they have acknowledged that employee engagement is key to stand out on social media, and that high employee engagement, will provide competitive advantages.
Several things have led them to this conclusion, but the three most prevalent have been;
For employees Social Media is about networking, knowledge sharing, connectedness and being a part of a community. These are elements that are all based on certain volumes of people getting together, driven by profession, interests and career – or simply human curiosity. Backing this obvious opportunity by engaging ones employees and their ever evolving networks will increase the company’s reach significantly. From a data point of view, by far largest professional social media network is LinkedIn, which has consistently reported that employees holds 10x the reach in comparison to the company’s corporate reach. Activating this opportunity should be obvious to any company.
Needless to say, activating the large potential reach, will increase traffic – but moreover, the quality of traffic generated by engaged employees will be much higher. Our yearly employee advocacy report, has consistently showed that CTR`s on content shared via employee advocacy are 4-6 times higher compared to corporate organic and paid social media advertising.
Social media is built upon user engagement and for companies, it`s actually the biggest freebie to utilize – especially for employee advocacy. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter et al – all have the tools needed to engage, participate, build networks and business relations – and they have huge audiences. Employees are already present on social media, so utilizing this as a driver for engagement is a no brainer.
Distilling the competitive advantages of Employee Advocacy
If you are a company with 500 employees with no structured employee advocacy program, you are left with very limited opportunities to engage your employees, thereby missing out on increase in reach, traffic – and maybe most importantly, employee engagement. Moreover, you`ll be left with either corporate channels only and/or paid.
Corporate presences on social media are not built to engage employees, even though it is where your content resides. Distributing your content to your customers, prospects, talents and target groups, calls for a distribution channel to “where they are” on social media: The feeds. The majority of users on social media are consistently checking in on the feeds – only a fraction pay visit to company pages. There are only two ways of getting into these feeds; Paying – or paving your way in.
So, your overall target/objective with employee advocacy should be to increase your company’s presence in the feeds on social media – more than focusing on getting more visitors/followers to your corporate presences.
Focusing on the above, will either increase the value of your existing employee advocacy program – or enable you to gain momentum with your competitors that have adopted employee advocacy earlier. The list of competitive advantages that our clients have experienced is substantial – but here is a top 10 break down;
- Increase in reach, traffic, SOV and conversions, both in terms of new business and in attracting talent and candidates.
- Improved employee retention accommodated by sustaining a high employee engagement and leveraging the opportunity for employees to positively engage themselves.
- Boost of interest in overall internal/external company communication, as besides employees digesting information, it is also made actionable.
- Major lifts in thought leadership efforts, as employee generated content by internal experts are in high demand from colleagues.
- Better and more profitable implementation of social selling programs.
- Positive uptake in regulated industries (pharma, financial, government etc.) as employee advocacy programs can easily be tied in to strict social media policies and guidelines, simply due to the structured centralized curation of content.
- “Learning by doing” environment amongst employees provides a high degree of “social media savviness”, and a quick learning curve.
- Securing the human touch in the “digital buyer journey”, by sustaining a high presence on social media via employees and their professional networks.
- Continuous, valuable learnings and insights on how content types and formats resonate with high priority target groups.
- Overall change from static presences on social media – to a much more dynamic approach.
Getting up to par with early adopters in your industry
Start by burying your concerns. The most prevalent concerns that I have heard in the past 6 years (and still hear) are;
- But – do employees really want to share or engage themselves ? We are in 2021 – social media is here to stay, and it`s driven by engagement, interactions and network building. Employees do understand.
- Our content isn’t fit to be shared by employees…Quite an oxymoron. If your content is fit for your customers, prospects and future colleagues, it obviously should be ok for employees 😉 Employee advocacy does not call for new content types/formats – it’s about leveraging the content you already have.
- Management won`t approve. I see that management are consistently amongst the top, in the lists of most engaged employees amongst our customers, and why shouldn’t they be there? They are – hopefully – amongst the most dedicated to the brand.
Final words and a look into the crystal ball
Firstly, establishing – or releasing – employee advocacy in your company is not an overnight effort, but just as much a preparation to what your presences on social media will be in the near future, and how you address it. With GDPR, tightened privacy regulations and thereby limited opportunities to map data on target groups. You need to think differently, to assure your fair share of attention on social media.
Alongside that, new competitive parameters are already present. Whether it`s competing for business or talent attraction, important elements like sustainability, gender equality, CSR, trustworthiness and authenticity are mandatory to address – now – and in the future. Most of these elements cannot be infused in your company DNA without securing employee ownership and enabling them to convey a collaborative voice on these vital subjects.
So – hopefully, I have encouraged you to not just think about implementing or establishing an employee advocacy program – but simply to release the opportunity at hand 😉