Employee advocacy – no longer optional in 2016

Yvonne Tey runs through three reasons why companies should utilise their employees to engage with the marketplace.

Yvonne Tey 180 2With the constant and ever-changing social media landscape, digital transformation among companies today requires more than just having marketers use social media to connect with their customers. It also involves a broader shift in how organisations relate and include employees in their social initiatives. Furthermore, social media engagement contributes to a company’s competitive advantage, with the most engaged companies being ahead of the curve, especially in talent acquisition and retention strategies.

So, what exactly is employee advocacy? To put it in simple terms, employee advocacy refers to the exposure an employee generates for the brand using his or her own social channels. With employee advocacy, your employees are invited to participate in your organisation’s communication efforts. Whether you need help from your workforce to promote a new product launch or are looking to engage more effectively with your employees for your corporate responsibility initiatives, having an employee advocacy program helps to boost your employee engagement, whilst increasing your social reach. Content shared by employees is also known to receive eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.

Today, let us take a look at three key reasons on why your company should start embracing employee advocacy (if you have not done so).

Employees are great brand storytellers

Stories are undeniably attention grabbing. They inform, entertain, and have been proven to engage people in a more effective manner than facts alone. By empowering your employees to tell stories about and for your brand, you are giving them the opportunity to humanize your brand and add personality into your content as they spread the word within their social networks. According to a recent study, it was also found that organizations that engage their employees are 57% more likely to increase sales leads.

For instance, the Coca-Cola Journey website in Australia takes on a highly visual and shareable role in order to drive better engagement through storytelling. It is a platform for employees, customers, and influencers to contribute and tell stories related to the business, innovation, sustainability, and other related topics. It also gives stakeholders an opportunity to find out what goes behind-the-scenes of the global company.

People trust individuals more than brands

Let’s be honest: word-of-mouth marketing still trumps over any other brand marketing tactics. Imagine the scale of social reach you could achieve in a large organization, especially when you have workforces all around the world. Your employees are your best word-of-mouth resource and this is especially true for Millennials who are digitally connected with their leaders, community and peers.

According to a global study, 72% of the general public trust social media content shared by friends and family, compared to that shared by online personalities and social media influencers. Putting the trust factor aside, it is also more likely for people to consume content shared by a personal contact, as it is less likely to get unsubscribed. In other words, organisations that do not engage in employee advocacy, miss opportunities to connect with their workforce. With an effective employee advocacy platform, you are essentially allowing your employees to carry your marketing messages to their personal connections.

Employees are your biggest marketing assets

Your employees form a large and diverse consumer base. Think about how cost-effective and efficient it is to tap in on an existing pool of audience, who are social media active and are already paid? All you need is to craft and frame your marketing messages for them so that it is easier for them to carry it further to their personal networks. Every employee has a different level of reach and influence over their social networks. By framing your messages for your employees, you will be able to harness this immense pool of marketing potential and boost your social reach in an organic way. The good news is this does not cost as much as running a fully-fledged social media campaign and there is no harm in allocating some financial resources to exploit greater benefits in the long run. With that being said, if you are already engaging employees through social media, or if you are about to implement this practice, make sure that you have a social media policy in place, as well as a system to monitor and enforce those policies. For instance, Hootsuite Amplify helps companies to extend their social reach through an easy and safe platform, which empowers employees to share approved social content with their friends and followers effortlessly.

As social media adoption continues to rise and people become even more connected, empowering and inspiring your employees isn’t optional anymore. Therefore, make sure you’re communicating with your employees and key stakeholders effectively by using the right channels and platforms.

Yvonne Tey is marketing director at Hootsuite Asia-Pacific