By Alexandra Zamfir

July 19th, 2016

With the drop in organic reach that more and more brands are experiencing, and the costly efforts of relying on paid advertising, many companies have turned their attention to other ways of getting their name out there. One of the most effective ones is employee advocacy.

Employee advocacy is not a new concept – the variation is the channel and manner of how it is encouraged and applied. Now, a good part of this word-of-mouth marketing manifestation has shifted to social and it’s available for everyone to see. This represents a huge opportunity for smart brands that can, on one side, amplify their message to the right networks, and, on the other, help employees become digital thinkers and identify with the brand on a higher level. For this, there are some good LinkedIn tips you should consider. 

Get your brand message out there

By this point, it is widely accepted in the community that people trust recommendations from people, and that word-of-mouth marketing helps humanize the brand and bring more credibility. To support this statement, LinkedIn conducted research on the power of employees’ voices on social and the results confirmed what was believed: when employees share content, it’s more engaging than when a company does. LinkedIn noted that when employees share a piece of content, viewers click twice as often as when a company shares. To add to that, an Altimeter report found that 21% of consumers liked an employee post—a far higher engagement rate than the average social ad generates. Taking into consideration how LinkedIn works, “likes” don’t only amount to engagement. Once a post is liked, it will appear on that viewer’s timeline, for his own audience to see, like, and share. Eventually, one post shared by employees can help brands tap into their networks and create a ripple effect that amplifies over and over again.

Let’s take Company X, that has about 100 employees and 10,000 followers on LinkedIn. Out of these, 20 are socially engaged and share the company’s latest post with their networks. If we assume that on average, each employee has 300 unique connections, the post now has the potential to be seen, shared, and liked by 6,000 people solely from your employees’ efforts. If each of them gets one person to like or share the post, and those people have again 300 unique connections, the company has now amplified its post to over 12,000 people. This is all on top of what the company’s own efforts can achieve.

This doesn’t only apply to the marketing department; employee advocacy has an effect on all parts of the organization. Forbes found that sales reps using social media as part of their sales techniques outsell 78% of their peers, whereas Jobvite’s research showed that employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate – only 7% of applicants are via employees but this accounts for 40% of all new hires.

Falcon in the era of employee advocacy

At Falcon, we have experienced the value a socially-supportive workforce first-hand. We have always encouraged employee advocacy, however, it wasn’t until we started building the foundations of an employee advocacy and social selling program that we saw outstanding results – and we are sharing them with you, together with our LinkedIn tips.

Ever since the kick-off of our pilot program in February, we have noticed an increased rate of new followers on LinkedIn, achieving 3-4 times the number of followers each day than we used to get before. This means that our message now has the potential to been seen by more people and, by continuing to support and encourage our employees, we’re increasing that potential every day.

LinkedIn tips for how to boost your brand reach with an employee advocacy program.

Our program, a constantly-developing initiative, keeps employee motivation at its core and is divided into three stages:

#1 – Get them while they’re young. For this, we now invite all new employees to advocacy and social media training, where we communicate the importance of supporting the brand on social. We also make sure that if employees want to develop their social media skill set even more,  they have the option to talk to our experts on how to improve their social media profiles for their particular job roles and use social as a source of information and development.

#2 – Get them while they’re willing. In this segment, we have established a core group of employees that we have identified as socially-savvy and can help support our initiative even further, as well as motivate the rest of the employees. Gamification has helped us a lot here, and we continuously organize competitions to keep them interested and push the limits of what they can do on social. We make sure that these employees have easy access to the Falcon platform and industry updates, and what is more, involve them in our initiatives. For example, what better way to put a face to our new brand than featuring some of our colleagues?

#3 – Get the rest. Not everybody in the company will be first to jump on social to support the brand. That doesn’t mean they are not loyal employees or don’t believe in the mission. They simply might not be comfortable with sharing updates on social media, they might fear repercussion, or maybe they don’t understand the effect of their activities on social. For this, we have created and distributed an easy-to-understand and fun social media policy, explaining the do’s and don’ts. We focused on communicating our support to our employees and that we are here to help them get started on any social media activities they might need assistance with.

Being a social media company, we find it vital to our activities and future development that our employees have a good grasp on social media and are active social thinkers. In addition, it is important that they work on building their profiles and their understanding of the environment, and that they feel that supporting the company on social is a natural part of their day.

Calling all employees

While on other social networks the brand message can get diluted by the purpose of the network, LinkedIn is the professional space where one’s activities have great potential to reach the right eyes. Just consider who you are connecting with – in this writer’s case, it’s mainly people within the same area of interest. By simply sharing, I’ve just facilitated Falcon’s update reaching almost 1,000 people, most of whom are in the same target market as the company.

All signs point to employees being an invaluable resource for a brand. They increase the credibility of the message, humanize the brand, and can connect to other individuals in a more meaningful way. The results of a solid employee advocacy plan might just get your brand name to new heights, help all parts of the organization to develop and grow, and truly turn your company social.

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