On January 1, 2014, in my “6 Social Media Trends to Watch Evolve in 2014” post, the first trend that I talked about in detail was that of employee advocacy. As I mentioned then,
Employee advocacy will become a strategic initiative for more and more large (and some small) companies. Companies are always looking outside corporate walls for brand ambassadors in social media, but many of their most passionate advocates are also those who have deep ties to their company: Their employees. Each individual employee has influence in their own unique social network, so the more employees that can help share the company’s social media messages, the broader reach a company can yield in social media. To think of it in simple terms, if you had a sales and marketing team of 25 employees, your social media messages could be shared by either your singular corporate account or by your corporate account and potentially 25 more people. The exponential power of employee advocacy, especially on professional networking sites where it is most relevant like LinkedIn, is beginning to be realized by many and I predict will have a breakout year in 2014. Creating a successful employee advocacy program has its challenges, but the evolution of both social business as well as employee advocacy platforms (such as GaggleAMP , PeopleLinx , and Addvocate ) should progress this program forward in many companies in 2014.
As I had predicted, employee advocacy has become such a buzzword in social media marketing that there is even going to be a Employee Advocacy Summit to be held for the first time this year. As with any “new” trend, it’s important to get a deep sense as to what exactly employee advocacy is and how it can be utilized by your company. Actually, though, employee advocacy isn’t really “new” at all, as I wrote in an earlier post this year entitled “4 Convincing Reasons Why Employee Advocacy Should Begin on LinkedIn“:
Back in 2011 I wrote my 2nd book on LinkedIn called Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing . At that time, I wrote,
In order to maximize your company’s exposure on LinkedIn … every sales and marketing employee that represents your business needs to have a LinkedIn profile.
What has happened since 2011, and seemingly accelerated this year, is a combination of a few different trends which have brought employee advocacy into its well-deserved spotlight:
- The evolution of social media from a marketing function to that encompassing the entire enterprise, and thus the transition towards social business
- The growing numbers of employees themselves becoming members of the various social networks
- The growth in social selling programs and the need to “feed” content to aid in the personal branding of sales and business development executives
- The growth in content marketing and the introduction of “employed media” by the Content Marketing Institute in March of this year
- Social media agencies and others in the social media ecosystem looking for new ways to increase revenues (I even had one person tell me, “We now re-sell (employee advocacy platform name) so we can “do” employee advocacy now…)
This combination of events means that companies are now more-than-ever looking at how to either begin or optimize an employee advocacy program. Unfortunately for many marketers, employee advocacy is not a technical SEO project nor is it a matter of simply pre-scheduling a week’s worth of content on a weekly basis and managing engagement. Employee advocacy goes deep into the very internal culture of your company and requires an enterprise-wide effort to be successful, including buy-in from management. In other words, I always say that social media is part science and part art, and employee advocacy leans heavy on the “art” in that you are trying to enlist the collaboration, not of external influencers or current brand advocates, but of those sitting in the cubicles all around you who might want to keep their use of social media as private as possible. Because there is so much need for education vis a vis employee advocacy, one of the leading platform providers who also share my above beliefs, PeopleLinx, reached out to me and thought it would be a great idea if we wrote a free resource on employee advocacy together. I agreed – and I’m happy to announce that we finished our joint ebook just a few days ago and it is finally available for download. Download your free copy of Social Marketing: How to Build an Employee Advocacy Program here. This Employee Advocacy guidebook includes:
- How Employee Advocacy Expands Reach and Trust – Get up-to-speed on all of the potential benefits that Employee Advocacy can yield for your company.
- Employee Advocacy and Social Selling – Employee advocacy can play a special role in contributing to your social selling program. Find out how.
- How to Define Your Employee Advocacy Strategy
- How to Build an Employee Advocacy Program through Understanding the “Three I’s”
- How to Source Content for Employees to Share
- How to Measure the Success of Your Employee Advocacy Program
Once again, click here to download: http://get.maximizesocialbusiness.com/employeeadvocacy/ Feel free to share this link with all of your friends and peers as well – it’s a free resource that will hopefully help many! I look forward to blogging more about employee advocacy throughout the year, but until then, I look forward to your feedback on the ebook and you sharing your successes and challenges vis a vis employee advocacy in the comments below. Thank you!