With ad blockers on the rise, less brand organic reach and a proliferation of content competing for our attention, it is harder than ever for marketers to reach customers and achieve cut through. One way to gain a competitive advantage is to build your customer-facing business from the inside out, by galvanising your employees to spread your brand messages on social media.
Here are five ways to make the most of your best asset, your colleagues:
Trust is critical to building a robust and sustainable brand, but people trust people. According to ‘The Official Guide to Employee Advocacy’ by LinkedIn, “the click-through rate (CTR) on a piece of content is 2x higher when shared by an employee versus when shared by the company itself”. The guide goes on to say “According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, people are 3x more likely to trust company information shared by an employee than that shared by a CEO”. This means it is crucial for brands to engage their employees in marketing to build trust effectively. To do this, employers need to create more touch points between the brand and its employees.
According to Edelman Digital’s 2017 Digital Trends Report, by 2020, it is predicted that ad blocking will cost publishers an estimated $35 billion in revenue. Consumers are turning on ad blockers and reaching outside of mainstream advertising and marketing for their information, especially towards people they perceive as more authentic. Employees have a privileged position here as they have very strong trust networks among their family, friend and peers, and are perceived as authentic. If employees are able to share brand messages in their own words on social media, their authenticity will ensure a higher return on investment.
Digitise Marketing and HR
Digital transformation is allowing marketing specialists to work more closely and effectively with HR and Learning and Development (L&D) professionals than ever before. An employee-centred approach to innovative social media marketing not only helps increase brand awareness but also helps employers retain their best minds and win the war for talent. New technologies are now available to reinvent the recruitment process by redefining HR and the way relationships are developed within companies. By empowering employees with more ownership, marketers can drive core values through a brand’s culture and realise leadership ambitions. Marketers looking to increase awareness of products and services need to look internally first at new ways to disseminate information on social media and then track and measure engagement and results.
Recognise the impact of word of mouth
McKinsey & Co state: “Marketing inspired word of mouth now generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising and is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.” Brands now need to look beyond ‘doing social media’ and explore the ways in which it can convert customers and sales. Employees can be a great source of word of mouth given the right kind of support.
As McKinsey & Co also state “the impact of social media on buying decisions is greater than previously estimated and the pool of the most effective influencers is largely untapped’. For marketers, employees on social media offer a reach simply unattainable by the brand alone – their referrals simply carry more weight to consumers.
As Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook said: “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
Create an employee advocacy programme
Managing employee advocacy has been very much a manual process until recently, precluding the ability to scale employee programmes effectively. New technology now allows brands to adopt cloud software employee programmes where members can access brand content daily, personalise it and share to their own social networks. Brands can then track social sharing in real-time, measure performance and report results accurately back to the board and shareholders. A content hub of this kind helps facilitate new ideas and collaboration between employees, create meaningful relationships, as well as exponentially increasing brand advocacy through a shared purpose. Many marketers are sitting right next to their biggest marketing asset.
By Andrew Seel, CEO at Qubist
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