Empowering employees to be champions of your brand is more important than ever before. 92% of people trust recommendations from their family and friends over any form of advertising. Employees who are advocates for their employers help to lead recruitment, increase brand awareness and even drive leads.
Is there a shift in the building of trust?
Advocacy isn’t a new concept, but many companies are just waking up now to the fact that it’s not something that can be ignored any longer.
Traditional advertising mediums are not going anywhere. But today, there is an element of cynicism in that people don’t automatically trust what they read or see. 73% of people worry about false information in news sources.
Therefore valuing the opinion of an employee over traditional advertising is simple – it’s about trust.
In this episode of Maverick of Marketing, Shannon Maverick talks with Steve Plowman, Customer Success Manager at Smarp – an employee communication platform that helps organizations to drive alignment, productivity and engagement, company-wide.
“When you see an employee post content on LinkedIn using their own messaging, their own voice, you read that and believe that person is genuine,” says Plowman. “They don’t have a vested interest in presenting a fake image. They believe in what they are doing so as I read that, so do I. Fundamentally, it’s about trust.”
Only 33% of buyers trust messages from a brand, while some 90% of individuals trust product or service recommendations from people they know.
Building advocates for your brand
When internal information is personalized, relevant and digestible – engagement increases. It’s incredibly important today that messaging isn’t blanketed across an organization, but developed differently for different departments and individuals.
That’s because advocates don’t just appear. It’s a journey that begins with employee engagement - aligning those employees with the company vision and goals and customizing communication across different business units. And most importantly - educating, informing and inspiring them.
In a recent study, 21% of employees are already highly engaged advocates and can act as role models for colleagues to emulate. The study further estimates that another 33% are open to becoming stronger brand advocates.
“If you as an employee understand clearly where your company is going, you’re going to feel a part of the journey to get there and you’re going to be bought in,” says Plowman. “And this is where you can create these true employee advocates, brand advocates, the people that are going to want to tell the world about the great things you and your company are doing.”
Where do we go from here?
The benefits of advocacy by employees runs deep, helping business units across an entire organization.
- Marketing – advocacy can drastically increase reach and engagement. According to LinkedIn employees typically have more than 10 times the reach on social media than corporate profiles. But that’s only part of it. Employees are people that are seen as authentic and trusted
- Sales – buyers use social media to engage with employees, but also to make purchasing decisions and educate themselves - 55% of buyers do their research by using social networks
- Recruiting – While partially a marketing function, companies with strong employee advocates are 58% more likely to attract top talent and 20% more likely to retain it.
“[There is] value in aligning your workforce with great communication because you don’t know where you will unlock potential. You can expect it will come from a certain part of the business but actually you don’t know. And one empowered and engaged employee sharing content that is relevant to your company can be such a powerful tool in driving awareness and in some cases, money,” said Plowman.
The importance of employee advocacy is only continuing to grow. Smarp recently worked with G2 to create an entirely new business category: employee communications. The category recognizes platforms that enable organizations to communicate with their entire workforce.
Software and technology are typically primary drivers in digital and organizational transformation. But, businesses with strong advocates - educated, informed and inspired employees - can help with that transformation, and not just internally. The voice of the employee is something that the market trusts and leveraging that voice is powerful.
How are you building advocates of your brand, today?