Social employees offer today’s brands an incredibly effective new marketing channel, yet far too many organizations don’t know what to do with them.
Over the past decade, social media has enticed brands as a low-cost platform with unprecedented access to customers and prospects. Yet despite improvements in content delivery and metrics, most organizations are unsure how to use social media and uncertain whether they’re successful when they do.
The problem of social media marketing has been simple, but pervasive: Too much focus on the “media,” and not enough focus on the “social.”
As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in all the fun things social media allows us to do. However, if we’ve learned one thing over that past 10-plus years, it’s that we should spend more time asking ourselves what we should do and how we should do it.
So what should brands be doing to maximize their social impact? For starters, try this mantra:
- Be authentic.
- Be helpful.
- Be people-focused.
The best way to achieve these goals isn’t through some fancy new software platform, but through something your organization already has in abundance: social employees.
Customers don’t want to talk to brands. They want to talk to other people Here’s why: A few years ago, Nielsen found that “earned media” (e.g., peer recommendations, social reviews) was more trusted than any other form of advertising. Customers don’t want to talk to brands. They want to talk to other people and make purchase decisions based on useful, fact-based information.
Consumers simply respond far better to employee-generated content. In fact, Altimeter found that 21 percent report “liking” employee posts – which is far higher than the response generated by a traditional ad.
Make no mistake: The future belongs to social employees. For today’s brands, it’s adapt or die.
Ready to launch your new social employee marketing channel? Here are 5 ways start:
1. Launch A Social Employee Pilot Program Using The 5 Ds Framework
There’s a lot more to social employee advocacy than just opening a Twitter account and asking one of your interns to manage it. It’s true that the best social employees deliver experiences that highlight authenticity, spontaneity, and creativity. However, they don’t just bounce around the Internet like it’s a giant pinball machine.
Through a well-designed pilot program, social employees learn best practices for engagement, content creation and curation, and maximizing impact. You can employ the 5 Ds framework we teach for LinkedIn Learning – Discover, Design, Develop, Deploy, and Determine – to design these highly successful pilot programs.
2. Create And Curate Compelling Content And Use It To Engage Target Communities
At its core, social employee advocacy is about being helpful. In both B2B and B2C, buyers spend more time than ever researching options before making a purchase decision. Your brand may offer the best solutions on the market, but if you can’t prove that to your prospects, then it’s a moot point.
Different kinds of content work better for different industries, but at any rate, be sure to present your main selling points in a variety of ways. Blogs are great, but they’re even better when supplemented with infographics or videos. Do your research; find out where your target buyers congregate, and learn what content formats they gravitate toward.
3. Focus On Branding From The Inside Out
What’s your brand’s story? What made your organization what it is today, and how does that impact the way you do business? If you know what your brand stands for, great! But, do your employees? In social employee advocacy, authenticity goes from the inside out. The organization that shares brand stories, helpful content, and collaborates internally is far better equipped to do so externally.
Today’s organizations have countless enterprise platforms to choose from that specialize in content curation and storytelling. Choose the one that works best for you, and watch as your internal engagement creates a peerless foundation for real-world results.
4. Identify Your Social Leaders
The best social employee programs empower their employees to determine their own involvement Social employee advocacy isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. In fact, the best social employee programs empower their employees to determine their own involvement. Some employees are content producers, some are channel boosters, and some are the complete package. Everyone does their part, but your social leaders always pave the way for everyone else.
Pay attention to the employee advocates who are the most involved, generate the highest returns, and push your organization to try new things. Then, formalize their leadership. Give them a platform within your organization to drive best practices and inspire others to up their game.
5. Get Upper Management And The C-Suite Involved
Your employee advocates are just one part of the social ecosystem. In marketing terms, one of the greatest advantages of social employee advocacy is that it’s decentralized, relying on the cumulative impact of individual engagement in the digital bazaar.
This allows for a lot of independence, which is a good thing, but the best social programs still receive guidance from your organization’s higher-ups. After all, if your senior leadership isn’t driving big-picture objectives, tracking marketing goals, and increasing visibility for your social programs, then who is?
According to Altimeter, 90 percent of brands are already pursuing, or have plans to pursue, some form of employee advocacy. In other words, if your social employees aren’t out there on the front lines engaging prospects, your competition probably is.
There’s never been a better time to get started than right now.
As your brand prepares to try its hand at social employee advocacy, keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. No brand can build an empire of social engagement overnight. Take your time, do your research, and try out different approaches. Before you know it, your social media marketing efforts will be soaring to new heights!