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Enlist Your Employees to Spread Your Message (Especially During a Pandemic)

You have a social media army at your fingertips: your employees.

They are ready to spread your message across all their social spheres, provided your message is worthy.

They are bastions of trust to their friends—a trust that can be extended to your brand.

This great news comes at the best time during this worst time, when digital engagement is more necessary than ever for a company’s survival.

Employee advocacy yields bonus rewards

Turning your employees into brand ambassadors is called employee advocacy. Interest in employee advocacy is rising—over 191% since 2013—because it works and isn’t that difficult to put into practice. Plus, like some of the best marketing techniques, there are additional benefits: trust, reach, and engagement.

1. Trust

Employee advocacy starts with trust. First, you must earn the trust of your employees. They need to trust your company from the top down—your leadership, your mission, and your messaging. When they do, they’ll be proud to share your content. Encourage them to, but don’t mandate it. Once they share, the magic truly begins.

By sharing your content to all their friends, family, and followers, your employees add another layer of trust to your brand. Most people don’t fully trust information coming directly from companies, but 76% do trust social media content from people they know. Your brand wins trust by association.

Your employees are the human side of your brand, figuratively and literally. They exemplify the ethics you’ve worked so hard to instill in your company culture. And your customers are watching. In fact, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, 76% of them deem ethics more important than actual competence. Trust really is that important.

2. Reach

The other benefit of employee advocacy is reach. This one is kind of common sense, but there’s data is behind its efficacy. Your social media posts reach 561% further when shared by your employees (compared to non-shared posts, of course). That, to state the obvious, is a lot.

Picture your own social media presence as a closed umbrella. Hold it above your head on a rainy day, and it will keep some drops off your head. Those drops represent your company’s followers on social media. But, if you have your employees share your content, they spread your reach like an open umbrella—touching many more drops of water (i.e., social media followers).

That’s even a slightly flawed (and, admittedly clunky) metaphor for how this works, though. On average, employees on social media are connected to 10x more people than your brand. But that’s not all. When your employees share your posts, they are re-shared 24x more than when they come directly from your brand. Yes, all the friends of your employees are more likely to share the message your employee shared. Back to the metaphor, that would be umbrellas on the umbrella into a metaphorical umbrella social media inception!

3. Engagement

Employee advocacy is, by its very nature, a type of employee engagement. You are creating brand content and your employees are willingly interacting with it by sharing it.

But you can take your employee engagement to the next level by flipping the employee advocacy script. Instead of just requesting they share brand content, encourage them to create their own content.

And then, highlight their content on your company’s social media pages. Your customers will see this, respect it, and respond. Your now-engaged employees will also respond, as companies with greater employee engagement perform better by 202%.

Praise your employee advocates for becoming, in essence, active influencers.

Employee advocates are even more important during trying times

With so many “unprecedented times” messages out there, it goes without saying that marketing is in a unique place right now. Customer engagement methods have adapted, and customers are responding.

Because in-person anything goes against all current health recommendations, many marketing strategies have transformed into completely virtual offerings. And not only have marketing efforts shifted to digital-only experiences, but they’ve also grown. Indeed, The CMO Survey’s special edition reports that marketing spend on customer experience has increased almost 10% from February 2020 to June 2020 (the date of the report).

From the same report, we learn that customers are more open to digital offerings (84.8%), placing more value on those digital offerings (83.8%), and acknowledging brand attempts to “do good” (79.1%). This means that though there’s an unfortunate average 17.8% loss of sales, and we’re spending 10% more on marketing, our customers are “getting it” more than ever before.

And employee advocates add so much credibility and humanity to your increased digital marketing. By filtering your messages through their own social networks, your employees add a legitimacy and depth to your brand that you could never achieve with normal methods. They are not only advocates, but also amplifiers.

Trust, reach, and engage. First your employees and then your customers. All that’s left to do after that is: lather, rinse, repeat—and keep your marketing momentum rolling.

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