Owned Influencers: Leveraging the Impact of Employee Brand Advocates

By Dana DiFurio
June 11, 2019

Social Media ROI is still extremely hard to define. Spending thousands to millions of dollars on social media macro- or micro-influencers for likes and click-throughs may not always pay off.  One way to boost your brand reputation is to turn inward. Take a look at the great people that you have working for your company. Employees are likely already sharing information about your company to family and friends online, so why not help them become strong brand advocates? They know your brand and customers better than anyone else, and their shares are seen as more authentic than corporate shares (Levinson, 2018).

According to Katie Levinson, Product Marketing at Credit Karma, here are four reasons to leverage owned influencers in your marketing strategy:

  1. Research shows that, on average, employees collectively have social networks 10X larger than a corporate brand does.
  2. Employee shares have double the click-through-rate of corporate shares on LinkedIn
  3. Salespeople who regularly share quality content are 45% more likely to exceed quota.
  4. Companies with a successful employee advocacy program are 58% more likely to attract and 20% more likely to retain top talent

Need a few more reasons? Check out this recent study from eMarketer: Benefits of Using Social Employee Advocacy Programs* According to US Business Professionals.

Four ways employee social advocacy benefits your employees:

  1. Have the ability to gain new knowledge and skills.
  2. Can become respected thought leaders in their field.
  3. Connect and meet with new people.
  4. Feel as though they contributed to the business’ success.

So where do you start? Try looking at people in the following positions – Marketing and Communications, Sales, HR, Product Development, and Research. Who is extremely passionate about the work they do? Are they active on social media? Do they attend internal events frequently? If a few people come to mind after asking yourself these questions, you may already have a couple of brand advocates you can work with.

Even if you are hesitant about employee involvement, here are a few ideas to help get them engaged and interested:

  • Encourage and remind employees to follow the company’s social channels (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.), ensuring they have every opportunity to engage.
  • Incentivize employee social participation by offering rewards such as gift cards, lunch, recognition, extra vacation days, donations in employees name, etc.
  • Provide social media etiquette and communications guidelines.
  • Spotlight employees on the company’s social channels, encouraging them to share with their followers.

Employee social advocacy can’t be forced, but it has a strong impact when they feel compelled to share why the work they do matters. Two keys to launching successful owned influencer initiatives are developing proper employee training/guidelines and developing approved content libraries for employees to use. We highly recommend leveraging employee advocates to our clients and have helped them achieve success through the following tactics:

  • Social employee spotlights drive high engagement and generate excitement among employees. We successfully launched a local-scale weekly employee spotlight on our client’s Instagram. The content performed 5X greater than the set benchmarks, leading the program to expand nationwide to the company’s 22K employees in the U.S.
  • Make employees feel comfortable with social media and all policies through lunch and learn training sessions.
  • Package event content in an easily downloadable format, and share it with employees for their use.
  • Have an employee host a Reddit AMA as an industry expert. A communications team member and/or agency can support the employee, so that they feel extremely comfortable with the experience.
  • Actively participating in a company sponsored Twitter chat as a subject matter expert. More than one employee can take part, and it is recommended that you partner with other organizations or companies to expand your reach.

 Sources:

Levinson, Katie (2018, Mar. 13). What is Employee Advocacy and How Do Marketers Win With It? Retrieved from: https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/linkedin-elevate/2017/what-is-employee-advocacy–what-is-it-for–why-does-it-matter-

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