Leverage employee advocacy to boost brand reach

Let me start with a statistic that’s sure to catch your eye. According to a study by The Marketing Advisory Network, brand messages reach 561% further when shared by its employees versus the same message shared by the brand’s social media channels. What does this tell you? Simple. Your TG is looking for authenticity — not a carefully curated image that’s put out by your marketing team. And who better to hear from than the people who spend a majority of their time with the brand i.e. its people? Wondering how you can leverage their opinions to boost your brand’s reach? Read on.

Communicate your brand’s values and USPs.
The only way your team members will communicate the relevant brand message on social media is when they know what the brand truly stands for. And surprisingly, this often isn’t the case. A 2013 Gallup survey showed that out of the 3000 participants, only 41 percent knew what their company’s brand was all about. So, first things first, ask your people to describe the company. Compare their responses to the actual brand guidelines, identify the gaps, and you’ll know how to address them.

Make sure there’s something in it for them.
Sure, some people may post about their workplace on social media even when not incentivised. But that’s definitely not the case with everyone. You’ll need to tell your team members what they have to gain out of advocating for the brand — this could be anything from boosting their credibility as Subject Matter Experts, or an attractive trophy that can change hands as top advocates change.

Provide training on best practices.
This is important — just because your team members have social media profiles, it doesn’t mean they know what to do with them. Sure, posting content and images is simple. But you must train them on aspects such as best days and times to post, how often to post, relevant hashtags, and profile optimisation. Put in the effort, and the pay-off will definitely be worth it! Remember the stat at the beginning of the piece? 

A few companies have mastered the art of leveraging employee advocacy efficiently. For example, employees of a global coffee brand who promote the same socially are termed ‘partners’. It creates a sense of belonging and emphasises a sense of responsibility for the content they post. The beverage brand issues detailed guidelines on what team members should post (and not post), and has created employee partner accounts on various social networks, enabling employees to publish posts, including pictures, stories, and discussions about the brand.

On noticing that a particular employee’s social media activity generated more revenue than its branded social networking properties, an American software company launched its Social Shift Program a few years ago. The initiative educates employees on the company’s social media guidelines and shares practices, and to date, approximately 30 percent of its employees worldwide have undertaken the training. Amazing, isn’t it?

Here’s the bottom line — the public wants to interact with the people who know your brand the best, not your social media teams. So, it’s time to encourage your teams to speak up online, share experiences, and in turn, take your brand’s reach to the next level.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Tina Garg
Founder and CEO at Pink Lemonade, an Integrated Marketing & Communications agency in Bangalore.
Tina launched the company in 2011, and today, it is known for its award-winning work in creative & business communications, and digital services. She comes with extensive experience in the creative industry, and is passionate about empowering women entrepreneurs.

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