A B2B client approached us last week with a problem we’ve heard over and over again: “My marketing team has created a ton of great content. I know it would make a huge impact on LinkedIn, if only I could get my employees to share it.”
So many organisations are putting time and effort into creating content that will engage their customers and prospects, and it’s not just the standard marketing fluff. It’s real, helpful information based on the pain points they know their customers are struggling with. But, like the proverbial tree falling in the woods, if no one reads it, does it make a difference?
Nope, unfortunately, it doesn’t.
The problem is that as a marketer, you simply can’t reach everyone despite your best marketing efforts through owned, paid, and earned media. Increasingly, it’s essential to tap into your employees’ network, especially through channels like LinkedIn, to get a viral lift and more eyeballs on your work.
It’s harder to do than you think. It would be nice if you could just tell your employees, “Hey, share this” and the flood gates of engagement swing wide. What you’re really doing, though, is saying, “Hey, here’s another task for you to complete. Take time out of your busy day to fool around on social networks. And, no, we’re not paying you more.”
It’s not going to work. You have to completely change the way you pitch LinkedIn to your employees in order to change their mindset and turn them into employee advocates that are LinkedIn content superstars.
The great thing about social media is that everyone gets equal opportunity to gain attention. But if you really want to get noticed, you have to create enough buzz around your brand on social. To do this you need a large social media marketing team and huge investments in terms of money and time. Or do you? With employee advocacy and a strong content strategy, you can massively improve your visibility, reach and influence all on a comparably reduced budget.
Employee Advocacy is the process of the encouraging your employees or workforce to share company news and stories on their personal social media accounts. This improves your reach and engagement vastly, and can increase prospects and leads. Employee advocacy makes it easier to connect with potential customers and build a rapport. Empowering your employees to actively participate on social media requires some guidance on what to share, what to avoid, how to interact with people on social etc. By guiding your employees in the right direction you can turn them into powerful marketers for your business.
When we consult with clients about their LinkedIn distribution strategy, we advise content owners and creators to think of their workforce as end customers. You have to sell them the benefit of social selling and sharing content on LinkedIn, and clearly answer the question “What’s In It for Me?”
Employee Advocacy has a lot of benefits. To begin with, it requires a lower budget as you are reallocating existing resources. Studies have shown that employee advocacy can increase reach by 10x times, boost brand buzz and show an increase in your company’s bottom line. Since the recommendations are more personal than ads, audiences are more likely to trust it. It also increases your credibility amongst your workforce's connections and makes them more likely to try out your services/product. Employee advocacy is also a great way to keep your employees up to date on the latest happenings in your industry. They also gain valuable insights while interacting with potential customers and prospects.
In order to build an effective employee advocacy program on social media, like LinkedIn, talk to employees about your content distribution program in terms of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. If you’re not familiar, the Golden Circle is the way effective leaders communicate and it’s pretty much the exact opposite of the way everyone else does – first why, then how, and finally what.
This is where you communicate vision and passion. It’s the time to inspire your audience – in this case, the workforce that you want to buy in to your LinkedIn distribution strategy. When talking about the why with them, these tips will help:
The how portion of selling the content distribution plan to employees is where you talk about your differentiators. While it supports the “why,” it demonstrates how your plan and approach is unique in the marketplace. Incorporate this advice:
The what is where you talk about the nitty-gritty details, the nuts and bolts of the plan. It’s what they’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis, the more task-oriented stuff that takes time and energy to complete. Again, to reiterate, don’t lead off the conversation with the what unless you want to doom your employee advocacy program to failure. Instead, do this:
With employee engagement and advocacy, you have to be careful to make sure everything goes as planned. Here are a few tips that you need to keep in mind:
Tools are another thing that can help you out – content curation tools are great for employee advocacy programs as they give easy access to shareable content for social media. Also, remember to make it a team sport, as playing as a team will also give both your workforce and the organisation an opportunity to bond better.
Another tool to help you amplify your brand’s message is this ebook, How to Build A Serious Social Media Program. In it, you’ll find tips and tricks from a veteran PR and social media expert whose built successful media programs on both small and large budgets.
If done right, employee advocacy can help you reap great benefits. It all depends on the strategy you build and the trust you have in your employees. Good employee advocacy programs are built on employees’ belief in the company and what it stands for, so it is crucial to have a good work culture. The key to making it work is to make all employees feel like they’re contribution is important to your company.