Savvy business leaders think long and hard about the best approach to launching and maintaining an effective social media program. Sound like you? You already realize it takes work to make it work, but it better be the right work that drives results. Too many business leaders struggle with investing in their social media presence because they wonder whether their investment will actually pay off.
To get exponential results with your social media program, you must think beyond the sales and marketing team efforts.
One way to maximize your return on investment in your social media program is to explore the benefits of an integrated employee advocacy program.
Why should you consider a social media employee advocacy program?
A social media employee advocacy program is a system you custom-build to help you get your employees involved in the company’s sales and marketing efforts. It’s a synergistic effort to get everyone aligned on business objectives.
Well-structured employee advocacy programs are successful when they have a grander purpose and a reason beyond “just getting everyone active on social media.” They give employees a chance to go beyond the immediate responsibilities of their current roles, to contribute both directly and indirectly to lead nurturing and prospecting programs.
I would argue that an employee advocacy program should be a major component of every social media program.
What a social media employee advocacy program is not…
It’s not telling your employees to get active on social media. No employee wants one more irrelevant “to do” from management on their list.
It’s not leaving employees’ social engagement up to chance. Ever seen a disgruntled employee go off on social media because they think nobody will notice? It’s not pretty.
It’s not giving them a social media presentation and hoping for the best. How many self-serving, boring presentations have you sat through knowing you would never implement?
It’s not giving them free rein to say whatever they want about the company on social media. Employees spouting confidential information or oversharing on social media doesn’t make your company look good to prospects.
It’s not micromanaging their social channels. Social media profiles belong to individuals, not companies.
It’s not posting to all their social channels to make it appear that everyone is synergized. This looks phony when everyone shares the same message. Yes, people can tell.
Apps and experts tout the benefits of automating social media, but beware before you go schedu-crazy. Truth is, you cannot put your social media efforts on autopilot. There’s a reason it’s called “social” media. Would you consider replacing yourself with an automaton in your meetings with potential customers? Of course not. Don’t make that mistake on social media by scheduling updates to all your channels and ignoring interactions.
What a social media employee advocacy program is…
It is giving employees a peek into the sales and marketing efforts of the company.
It is sharing your sales and marketing objectives with employees and continuing your brand culture of transparency.
It is giving employees an opportunity to become thought leaders and grow their own sphere of influence.It is structuring a program that benefits both the employees and the company.
It is about codifying the rules for employees who will use social media on behalf of the brand to ensure the program continues to be successful for all involved.
It is accepting continuous feedback from employees about what’s working and what’s not, and keeping employees up to date on any changes in the use of social media.
It is observing the metrics to figure out which actions, messages and channels positively affect the objectives. Without measurement, it’s like the old adage “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
How does employee advocacy affect your social media program?
Attempting to implement a social media plan within the silos of sales and marketing, your team will expend much more energy than if you invested the up-front time in an employee advocacy program. By collaborating with all the employees at your company, you can exponentially increase your social media impact and expand your reach. Getting started is the hardest part. Maintaining a program requires fewer company resources.
Companies who embrace employee advocacy experience the following:
Increased traffic to their websites. Getting the right traffic to your website gives you the opportunity to convert more leads into qualified prospects.
More engagement on social channels. Social channels with high engagement levels attract potential buyers and give your company online credibility.
An easier time building relationships with prospects. Prospects are more likely to engage with people at companies that are active on social media because social channels allow you to make the information they need easy to find online. This also shortens the sales cycle for sales people because there is less back-and-forth at the beginning.
Better synchronicity on social channels. Being strategic about your activity on social channels makes your company appear organized, in-the-know and aligned. Paying close attention to the details on social channels indicates a high-level of organization.
Improved brand awareness. If your company has a website, you must invest in building online brand awareness. Standing out on social media in your niche and increasing your share of voice helps you to become the go-to experts.
Increased visibility with the audience that matters. Visibility does not count if those you are trying to attract cannot find you where they are already looking. Actively engaging in online conversations around topics that matter to them raise your visibility.
Stronger brand values. Companies spend a lot of time defining their brand values. Helping your employees to share these brand values on social media also helps you to appear trustworthy and to also attract the right talent.
Better company culture. Employees are happy when they feel like they are making a difference beyond their normal scope of responsibility.
What are the benefits for employees participating in an employee advocacy program?
Employees are able to choose whether or not they would like to participate in the program, which gives them the option to opt-in. It’s never a good idea to pressure employees to participate in a program, especially if they do not see the value. In fact, it’s detrimental to try forcing them because the repercussions for the company could be disastrous. A clear presentation laying out the benefits to them and a step-by-step action plan are essential to helping employees get started.
We’ve noticed that employees who choose to participate in the program become more active on social media and more confident in their ability to shape the conversations happening in their industry and areas of expertise. By giving them the resources, the know-how and the confidence they need to participate, you are empowering everyone at your company to become part of the conversation and to share their unique perspectives about the great work everyone is doing at your company.
Give your employees a voice, a message and a mission. This will demonstrate to your customers that you embrace a customer-centric business model.
The world of doing good business has evolved beyond the gentleman’s handshake. Before you get to that handshake, prospective buyers expect companies they do business with to have built a strong online presence across social media. An employee advocacy program is one of the most straightforward ways to magnify those efforts.