A good friend of mine was director of social marketing for a large enterprise in the financial services industry. When he started working, he realized that they were subscribed to a social media monitoring tool recommended to them by their PR agency. Although at the time every company was investing in a monitoring tool like Radian6 and setting up listening posts, one of the first things he did was pull the plug on that program because he saw very little business ROI from the exercise. Instead, he focused on more pressing issues like compliance – which mitigated risk more than social media monitoring – and social selling.
Employee advocacy programs are not as ubiquitous as the use of listening tools by large enterprises, but based on conversations I have with clients and brands at conferences as well as the explosion of employee advocacy tools vendors, clearly there has been a brisk increase in employee advocacy programs in the United States. While it might be the latest “fad” in social media marketing, it requires an even greater investment than previous ones if you take into account the enterprise-wide education and training that goes into making an employee advocacy program successful.
In order to get more internal resources and expand their program, every director of an employee advocacy program will have to provide KPIs that satisfy internal requirements and justify their spend. What will those KPIs be? We all know that when our employees share our branded content, we can reach a new audience that has little overlap with our current one. Certainly those employees sharing the content are trusted resources in their network, and that means it might create increased engagement. It also has tremendous benefits from an employee engagement perspective.
While some companies measure social media ROI from some of these “softer” KPIs, more and more companies, especially in B2B industries, are eyeing social spend as it creeps up to become 20% of the marketing budget and asking where the business value is. Paid Social and Content Marketing has provided companies an easy way to see ROI as the expenses can be justified like any other traditional expense that contributes to the marketing funnel. Employee advocacy doesn’t necessarily equate to ROI.
Or does it?
I have found that those companies with a successful employee advocacy program have begun by focusing on social selling at the program’s onset. The reason is simple: Social selling requires salespeople – who don’t have a lot of extra time on their hands to dabble with social media – to share a lot of content in order to gain mindshare and traction with both present clients and future prospects. Marketing is always looking for ways to have their content shared by their salespeople (or partners and distributors), so an employee advocacy-fueled social selling program is an ideal match made in corporate heaven.
The paradigm shift from a general employee advocacy program, where general content is shared by general employees generating general new followers and general engagement, to a social selling-driven employee advocacy program is huge. With social selling, content can be tweaked to serve the needs of each of your sales reps and can be analyzed to see not only which type of customer engages with what type of content, but also how different content contributes to different stages of the funnel. This is critical feedback for your content marketing.
But that’s only the beginning.
By creating targeted content for your salespeople to share, you’re also attracting targeted users to follow the accounts of your reps because they have a vested interest in what you have to say.
And, yes, there IS more.
When you choose to adopt an employee advocacy tool that was built for social selling at the onset, you have the additional ability to not only integrate with a CRM like Salesforce, but to also track all of the activity generated by your employee advocacy program and how it contributed to all of the business in the pipeline of each of your salespeople.
Even if you’re not a B2B company, using the same social selling concept your employees can become part of a program where an ROI is attached to their participation not just by number of shares or engagements, but how it contributed to whatever promotion or campaign you were doing. In other words, with the right software, your employee advocacy program can truly provide the infrastructure where every employee can become a contributor to the bottom-line.
This is why, as the title of this post indicates, you can clearly see that if you’re looking for ROI in your employee advocacy program, begin with social selling in mind and the ROI will follow.
I’m honored to host a free webinar with Richard Brasser, Chief Executive Officer of the leading employee advocacy platform rFactr, together with Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer from Forbes Media, to discuss this and more mistakes that enterprises are making in their employee advocacy program. Please join us on October 6th for this educational webinar – if you can’t make it, a recording will be available for those who registered.
(you can also register for the webinar by clicking here, too)
Has your company fueled your employee advocacy program with a social selling initiative? What other KPIs have you used to justify your employee advocacy spend?