How influential are your influencers?
We see that brands are increasingly shifting from influencer advertising to placing marketing into the hands of employees. Which is a strategy that increases influence and brand engagement by highlighting their best influencers.
It is not just leading brands which are activating their best brand ambassadors as the next wave of influencers. We see even smaller companies growing with employees as part of the marketing strategy to influence people in their networks.
It is not accidental that employee advocacy is the next wave hitting the shore. Even Edelman underlines that employees have a high degree of trust in their individual networks and when they actively engage with integrity and authenticity about a brand, they have a high impact.
Popularity is not always enough
Employees are not celebrities, and just like you and me, they probably do not have the social reach or power of a Kardashian, yet when hundreds or thousands of employees’ voice the same message, engaging with the brand, they multiply the reach of the corporate brand. Advocating on this scale, your organic reach is not only authentic it also endure high degree of trust.
Real influence is not about popularity. It is ones ability to cause effect or change behaviour. Mostly, we tend to listen to people we know and base our decisions supported by informed choices on recommendations from friends, family and peers. This is why personal recommendations, relationships and engagement matters. Algorithms even reward you for it.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced that their algorithms prioritise personal updates from connections rather than advertisements. This makes personal engagement even more powerfull on social media because it will become harder and more expensive to gain the attention if you are a brand.
Attention is not the only benefit of employee advocacy. According to Altimeter Group, it is also the fastest growing means of building brand engagement. With employee advocacy, employees are able to un-brand corporate messages and personalise the brand. Being more involved also provides employees an understanding and influence on the brand strategy.
Alongside this development, management have to accept that the brand is not in their control anymore but is a story that constantly is being told and interpreted. This also includes acceptance that a brand is not just about attention but more about engagement.
Employee advocacy is value for money
Influencer marketing can be costly and without guaranteed effect. Whereas, employee advocacy is relatively straightforward and excellent value for money. New advocacy platforms, such as Sociuu, mean brands are now able to easily scale and measure social media efforts and achieve sustainable results. This means that the ROI of an employee advocacy programme can be monitored and reported accurately, while harvesting the brand engagement among employees.
Influencer marketing 2.0
Believe it or not most employees are already advocates. Companies are just now starting to follow their employees activities on social media. This is even though, as the MSL Group underlines, a brand message is shared 24x more frequently when distributed by employees, rather than by the brand itself.
There is no doubt that social influence as a mean to reach customers is more important than ever. That is why influence 2.0 is not about popularity, it is about the ability to bring value to the bottom line.
Activating the best advocates, your colleagues, you will see that they are not just able to drive the marketing and PR to the next level. They are converting social media influence to valuable business. Successful advocacy is about genuine, consistant and authentic content shared by trusted employees.
It is never to late to get started.