Why You Should Create an Army of Employee Ambassadors and Win at Brand Advocacy
With the pervasive presence of influencer marketing–and now micro-influencer marketing–companies are actively seeking to discover that next fresh frontier where they’ll find unclaimed social media movers-and-shakers who are willing to engage in sharing their brand-created messages with consumers.
What employers may want to consider is that the untapped pool of potential influencers sits within its company walls.
Some brands are finding that the social ambassador roles they’re seeking to fill are perfectly suited to their existing staff members. As businesses start dipping their toes into the employee ambassador world, there is a good deal of research to consume on why it works, how it’s best done and which employees are most likely to sign on to serve as ambassadors.
Here, we’ve curated some of the juiciest need-to-know facts and statistics about brand advocacy.
1. They’ll Do it….If They Trust You
One of the first issues that gets raised when an employee advocacy program is being proposed is “will my employees be willing to advocate on my behalf?” What the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer found was that you’re more likely to get a “yes” from employees who trust the company they work for.
Edelman found that fifty-eight percent of employees look to their employer as a trustworthy source of information. Those workers who trust their employers are about 33 percent more likely to want to engage in actions that benefit the company. And that includes advocating on the company’s behalf. If you’re hoping to build an employee advocacy program around enthusiastic support, rather than grudging participation, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve already earned your staff members’ trust.
2. Consumers Trust People, Not Brands
Golfdale Consulting produced a study entitled “Consumer Trust: Keeping it Real,” that contained a number of insights regarding employee advocacy, among them a factoid that should have every company jumping on the staff-members-as-brand-champions train. Golfdale shared that 76 percent of consumers are more likely to trust content that is shared by people than by brands. No matter how compelling a business’s content may be, it’s unlikely to achieve its widest potential reach if it is only shared by brand-operated social media accounts.
3. Employees Make Brand Messages Go 561% Further
If you need more proof that content needs context in order for it to reach the most consumers, MSL Group found a surprising statistic. The very same assets went 561% further when shared by staff members than it did when shared via a company’s official social media profiles. So, not only are readers of the content more likely to trust it when it’s been shared by an employee, the information is likely to reach a massively larger number of readers.
4. Your Employees are Better Connected Than You
LinkedIn reports that employees have about 10 times more connections than the company that they work for has followers. That means that your staff members have access to a much larger group of users in front of whom they are able to get your content. Your brand may have a stellar LinkedIn game, but even companies you might consider social savants will have a hard time beating the reach of a consumer account. That’s because LinkedIn users may easily connect with hundreds of other users on the network, but they are unlikely to follow that number of brands.
5. Staff Shares Engage Better
Employees’ broadcasting of company content accounts for 20 percent of its overall social engagement on LinkedIn. But here’s the amazing part of that statistic: only about 2 percent of employees are actually sharing social content on LinkedIn that originated from the company that they work for. That means that your business is likely tapping into only 2 percent of a mass amplification team.
6. Employee Shares Boost Job Views
Another interesting finding from LinkedIn is that companies whose employees share their brand’s social content see a lift in the views that their job postings receive. Specifically, LinkedIn reports that for every six pieces of brand content that an employee shares, their employer receives six new job listing views. For companies looking to boost their recruiting efforts through employee advocacy efforts, these numbers should reinforce those plans.
7. Most Companies Don’t Have a Plan
The Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today teamed up for a study of social media use for business purposes. They surveyed 588 professionals and found that 80 percent of participants’ employers had not yet implemented a comprehensive employee advocacy program.
8. Employees Benefit from Advocacy
Companies aren’t the only ones who stand to gain from employee advocacy programs. Hinge found that 96% of survey participants were able to identify benefits of their participation in social media brand advocacy programs.
9. Careers Improve through Ambassadorship
Getting involved with social media for professional purposes has helped the careers of about 69% of the Hinge survey participants. Among those gains that respondents reported were byproducts of their business-related social media use were widened professional networks and staying current with industry trends. For millennial respondents in particular, their social activities also helped to differentiate them from their peers, allowed them to develop new skills that are high in demand, and lead to more job opportunities.
10. You May Shorten Sales Cycles
What could be better than a wider reach and happy employees? How about getting to “sold!” a whole lot faster? Training up a band of brand ambassadors may be a way to nail that goal, as well. Twenty-seven percent of the high-growth firms included in the Hinge survey reported that one of the pluses of employee advocacy was a shortened sales cycle.
11. Training’s Not Widespread
More than two-thirds of responding employees reported that they had not received any training from their employer regarding social media use for business purposes. But that didn’t mean they would not have welcomed such training had their employer offered it. Hinge heard from 57% of participants that training on social media engagement would have made a difference for employees at their workplace.
12. The Leads are 7X Better
The Marketing Advisory Network and the Aberdeen Group surveyed 499 currently employed professionals about their company’s employee advocacy efforts. Respondents worked for a variety of different types of companies and served in a number of departments including IT, marketing, engineering and sales. Aberdeen chose participants whose gender, age (over 18) and region of residence closely resembled the overall makeup of the country. Participants reported that the leads that came in through employee social marketing efforts converted at a rate that was seven times higher than other leads.
13. Formal Programs = Revenue Jump
Respondents reported that in companies with formal employee advocacy programs a 26% increase had occurred in year-over-year revenue.
14. It’s a Good Recruiting Tool
Employee advocacy may prove to be a high-powered recruiting tool. The Aberdeen Group found that 44.5% of respondents felt more likely to apply for a job if they saw that a friend of theirs had shared information about the job on social media.
15. Most Employees Aren’t Doing It
As open to acting as brand advocates as most employees may be, they simply aren’t doing it yet. Only 27% of respondents in the Aberdeen Group survey reported that they have posted at least one positive comment or review online about their employer.
16. Newer Employees May be Hesitant
Aberdeen found that there was more resistance to participating in social media on behalf of an employer from staff members who had been with the company for less than a year. The share of newer employees who reported that they never share any company messages via their own social channels was 63%, while that was true for only 54% of those with 1 – 3 years of service with a given company, and then 24% of employees who had been working at the company for 4-6 years.
17. Traveling Employees Share More
The more that a staff member’s workday requires them to spend time with non-employees, the more likely they are to share company information about their employer on social media. That was another finding of the Aberdeen Group’s study. They looked at the location of employees workspaces–whether they were tasked with working on-site, working-from-home, working at a client location and traveling frequently or doing so less frequently. Fifty percent of work-from-home employees had shared no company information on social media over the prior month, while 48% of on-site employees reported the same. Only 32% of those who travel frequently and work at a client location reported no professional social posts in the last month.
Here’s What We’ve Learned
The numbers on employee advocacy show a few things for sure:
- Brands looking to build their social reach and engagement will find that staff ambassadors can likely do the trick,
- Employees are likely to be willing participants and see professional benefits in exchange,
- Lead quality, sales cycle length and revenue may be positively impacted,
- The best benefits come with an organized and formal employee advocacy program, and
- Employees want, and need, training and structure as part of any brand ambassadorship program.
Start with the Right Tool
At DrumUp, we’ve built a super-simple platform that allows companies to engage employees in broadcasting company content. Using easy-to-use tools employees can schedule posts to any of the major social networks; they’ll even add personalized comments and hand-picked hashtags. As new company-created content gets published, employees will receive email notifications, then they’ll use DrumUp to share out those posts.
When you’re ready to make it a little more fun for your staff members, you can add our gamification module, which makes leaderboard tracking for monthly contests or other games effortless.
And, when it comes time to start running numbers, your social team will love the richness of the DrumUp analytics module, and revel in its streamlined usability. You’ll know how each of your posts performed, and have access to a host of data that will help you to refine your social media strategy.