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How should employees be part of my marketing mix? Can I extend the reach of my brand’s messages through employees in social media? Can I drive increased engagement of employees at work? Does the shift of social media from organic messaging to paid advertising concern you? Will there be a time when my employees will carry my messages further than our brand's social pages? If so, this research report is for you.
As marketers and digital strategists, we think a lot about consumer engagement. We capture and analyze mounds of data for insights that help us design consumer experiences that result in driving preference for our brand. We’ve used our brand pages on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks in a calculated manner to move the needle with those consumers using skillfully designed campaigns, contests and holistic content strategy. But what happens when we think of employees as consumers? What happens when you “democratize” your brand and ask your employees to be the messenger? There are those that shiver at the thought—the same doubters uncomfortable with loss of control that slowed the adoption of social media in the early days—and on the other side, those that see the same win-win-win we discovered: employee advocacy done right benefits the consumer, the employee and the brand. The growth of these programs represents a significant shift in mind-set from thinking of social as a department level tool (alone) to one that engages the entire workforce in achieving marketing objectives.
The story goes, “employees are our greatest asset, they are the most trusted by peers, so how can we leverage them in the social media era to advocate for our brand—especially since at the same time, platforms like Facebook are compelling us to increase advertising to maintain the reach of our messages?” Is the foundation there to realize this benefit? Not quite. According to Gallop, only 31.5% of US employees were engaged in 2014, and that number is lower among younger employees most likely to be active in social media (Millennials are the least engaged group, at 28.9%). In fact our research found that 77% of those employees who do advocate are a manager or above, so clearly brands have not yet figured out how to tap their broader base of individual contributors.
Those that start employee advocacy programs learn that simply sharing content about the brand with employees will make the individual contributor feel more connected and engaged. Our research found that after sharing, employees’ #1 feeling was “I feel more connected and enthusiastic about the company I work for”. So we’ve solved both a consumer/market-facing problem (message reach) as well as an internal one (increasing employee engagement). There’s a virtuous cycle at work, and whether your catalyst for employee advocacy is the consumer or the employee—if done right—all win.
Through global quantitative surveys, as well as interviews with leading brands like AT&T, IBM, Adobe, General Mills, Kelly Services, Deloitte, Aetna, VMWare and Cisco, we pursue answers to the following questions and offer a checklist to get started:
Click below to download the full report from our website.
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