What is employee advocacy and why should you care?
Employee advocacy is a hot topic in the marketing community at the moment, but a lot of people seem to misunderstand what employee advocacy is and why it’s important. That’s why we’ve written this article.
Done well, employee advocacy can help you to maximize your reach and engagement by empowering employees to share content. But what exactly is employee advocacy, and why should you care? Let’s dive in and take a look.
What is Employee Advocacy?
Employee advocacy is all about empowering your employees to share smart, quality content through their social networks. It’s still a relatively new concept, but sophisticated organizations understand that if they make it easy for employees to share content, it can have a huge impact.
That’s because, on average, employee networks have 10x more connections than a company has followers. And according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, people are three times more likely to trust company information that’s shared by an employee than when it’s shared by the CEO. Click-through rates increase when content is shared by individuals, too.
When done well, employee advocacy helps everyone. Companies can boost brand awareness, generate leads and attract top talent, while employees can build their professional reputations, grow their networks, and become more engaged with your company.
The statistics show that while only 3% of employees share content about their company, those shares are responsible for a 30% increase in the total engagement that a company sees.
We can see this phenomenon in action at Visa, where they launched an employee advocacy program in partnership with LinkedIn Elevate to highlight some of the new and interesting things that were being done in local markets around the globe. The campaign led to Visa’s employees sharing six times more than before and leading to four times as many company page followers.
Employee Advocacy for Sales and Marketing
Employee advocacy can also significantly impact sales teams, with B2B buyers increasingly turning to social media channels on their path to purchase.
One survey found that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions, and that number rises to 84% of C-level executives.
The rise of the empowered buyer means that more and more companies are turning to social selling, allowing reps to position themselves to be front of mind once a prospect is ready to buy. And an important part of this shift is encouraging sales teams to share content on social networks.
This isn’t just some wishy-washy thought leadership: it actually works. Salespeople who regularly share company social media updates are 45% more likely to exceed their quotas and leads from social sharing convert more often than other leads.
According to one report from the Hinge Research Institute, “A formal employee advocacy program helps shorten the sales cycle. Nearly 64% of advocates in a formal program credited employee advocacy with attracting and developing new business, and nearly 45% attribute new revenue streams to employee advocacy”.
Employee Advocacy for Recruitment
Another key advantage of employee advocacy is that your employees are your most authentic advocates, and their networks are filled with prospective talent. When your employees share content about where they work and what they do, it’s far more engaging than when it comes from your company alone. Employee advocacy leads to a fundamental change in how companies attract and engage talent.
Companies with socially engaged employees are 58% more likely to attract top talent and 20% more likely to retain them.
You should note that even when your employees share content that’s not directly related to your company, your brand still benefits. When your employees are seen as thought leaders, your company is seen as a leader by association.
Employee advocacy also boosts employee engagement, with people at socially engaged companies 27% more likely to feel optimistic about their company’s future and 15% more likely to feel connected to co-workers beyond their core teams.
Goals and Measurement
By now, you should be convinced that employee advocacy can add a tremendous amount of value to your business, but don’t just take our word for it. Set some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goals for advocacy and launch an employee advocacy program of your own. You might just be surprised by the results.
At the most basic level, you’ll want to track engagement rates on shared content, but you should also measure the outcomes that it leads to. For example, does the program lead to a surge in job applications or a spike in downloads of your latest piece of hero content?
Goals and measurement are important because without them, you’ll have no way of knowing whether your employee advocacy efforts are paying off. If possible, you should also take a benchmark before you launch your program so that you can more clearly see the difference that it’s making.
Remember that if you’re unsure, you can always start small or bring in some outside help from consultants or agencies if it’s going to help you to get the job done. The biggest mistake that you can make is to do nothing because you can bet that whether you’re running an employee advocacy program or not, your competitors are.
Employee advocacy is one of the most powerful tools in the modern marketer’s toolkit, and it can help with everything from hiring and employee retention to sales and marketing. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to launch and monitor a program, and it can generate results that keep on giving.
So if you haven’t launched an employee advocacy program at your company already, perhaps it’s time to get started. And if you need a helping hand, feel free to schedule a demo with our team. Our SocialWeaver platform has a service dedicated to making it as easy as possible for you to provide branded content for your employees to share to their LinkedIn profiles. Good luck!