For any kind of business, the best kind of marketing is word-of-mouth. You want your company to be the subject of conversations. You want people to talk about what you’re doing, what you’re selling and how you’re selling it. The more people hear about you, the more people will buy from you.
Best of all, you have an army of people who have a deep understanding of your business. They like your business… and they each have an untapped audience that would like to know more about your company.
According to research by LinkedIn, a typical company’s employees have a network ten times larger than the firm’s social media follower base. LinkedIn found that when businesses ask their employees to share job openings on social media, companies see 30 percent more job applications, and the applicants who arrive through a friend’s recommendation have a 37 percent lower initial attrition rate.
Tapping into that network doesn’t just bring better recruits. It can also bring more sales and greater brand recognition. It’s a way to communicate your company’s identity and message to a whole new audience through passionate storytellers who know your company best.
To make use of that army of advocates, you’ll need to take three steps:
Urging your employees to talk about work on social media will mean taking a risk. You won’t be able to check every post before it goes out or monitor every conversation that takes place. Micromanaging posts will reduce participation and lower authenticity. You’ll need to trust your workforce to communicate the messages you want to broadcast while still allowing them to be their authentic selves.
Before encouraging your staff to advocate on your company’s behalf, draw up guidelines. List your company values. Provide examples of stories that they could share. Make clear that there are some topics—such as customer data or complaints—they shouldn’t discuss. There may even be compliance or legal issues that restrict what people can say. Your employees should be aware of them.
Give your team plenty of latitude so that they can have fun, display personality and talk about the things they want to discuss. But do take the time to build a framework so that the conversations they’re having are positive, inviting, and always show the company in a good light.
Your company will benefit when your employees are advocating your business to their social media audiences. The employees also benefit by entertaining their followers with fun stories and interesting content. But their rewards should be bigger than that.
That doesn’t have to mean compensating employees directly for social content and engagement. Paying employees to be advocates risks authenticity. The best social media content always comes from individuals saying what’s on their minds rather than from professional PR people saying what they’re being paid to repeat.
But you can certainly incentivize them through programs like awarding a prize to the employee who lands the highest number of shares or who posts the most content each month. You can also point out that discussing their work on their social media streams can be a path into professional social media work, a channel that you can promote with coaching that benefits both your business and your employees. And you can remind your team that engaging on social media, sharing content, and talking about the issues they encounter in their work builds their own credibility. When they’re thinking professional thoughts aloud online, they look like experts.
Finally, you should be measuring the results. You should monitor the number of posts your team makes, and the number of shares and likes they receive. Above all, check the impact the content has on your business. You should find that as conversations spread, you see a growth in the number of newsletter subscriptions, more hits on your website, and more orders. Surveys should show a greater degree of brand recognition so that when you launch or offer a new product, you pick up more interest and more sales.
Those measures shouldn’t be the only reason you urge your employees to become advocates. A general, positive impression of your business is hard to measure even though it’s still worth having. But it is rewarding to seeing how that advocacy is affecting your bottom line.
Your employee networks are a huge, untapped resource. They’re a path towards greater brand recognition and exponential growth. Tapping that resource will take a little training and a lot of trust. But it can bring huge rewards for you, your company, your employees—and your new customers.
As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products, and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.
Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.
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