Social Media Employee Amplification is one of the three main categories of social media advocacy marketing. The other two categories are influencer marketing and customer endorsement. Influencer marketing relates to promotion by traditional brand ambassadors like celebrities or affluent personalities. More recently, social media accounts with a large follower base have been added as influential entities. Customer endorsement refers to positive public commentary by clients and is considered word-of-mouth marketing.
This article focuses on the third and most intriguing form of advocacy, namely employee amplification. We will explain what this concept means, what the benefits to using it are, and highlight key considerations for implementation.
What is Social Media Employee Amplification?
In short, this approach centres on harnessing the power of your staff as brand ambassadors for your organisation. The process itself involves tapping into the value offered by employees through social media activities. This is done by encouraging staff members to publish or share brand messaging on their personal social media pages. The concept of employee amplification certainly adds a whole new dimension to the term “human resources”…..
“76% of survey participants said they were more likely to trust content shared by their network (people they know) versus content shared by brands.” (Adweek)
Who should use employee amplification?
Theoretically, any brand could use this technique, regardless of organisation size or business industry. But success of employee amplification hinges on how your staff feel about the brand. Are they passionate about it? Are they proud to be associated with it? Do they believe in the service or product offering? The more loyal an employee is, the more authentic their endorsement will be. No staff member should be forced to publicly support their employer via their personal platforms if they are not keen to do so. Unhappy or unwilling individuals are likely to cause more harm than good.
“79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after implementing a formal employee advocacy program. 65% reported increased brand recognition.” (Hinge Marketing)
Benefits of Employee Amplification
Reach & Exposure: Earlier is year, Facebook made a change to its algorithm that had a major impact for business pages on the platform (click here to read more). The change meant that users see more posts from their friends rather than business pages, drastically reducing organic reach by brands. Employee amplification means that you can counter-act this change as content shared by staff will not have the same restrictions as posts shared by your business page.
Using business networking platform LinkedIn as part of an Employee Amplification strategy is also a great way to gain exposure via employees’ professional networks. The platform has a viral quality to their algorithms in that every post that a user likes, comments or shares is directed to their contacts timeline. Content shared by users has a generally much wider reaching when compared to a business’s own page.
Organic reach: As mentioned above, posts shared by employees will have organic (free) reach. Such exposure would result in better social media figures that are unlikely to be achieved via any other unpaid method. It is therefore a financially beneficial technique.
Credibility & Engagement: Content shared by a staff member is largely seen by people that know the person thus adding a level of credibility to the message. Posts by network contacts will also have a higher engagement percentage (views, likes, shares, comments) than those sent directly from the brand’s account.
Business & Marketing: Other tangible benefits include increased sales, improved brand awareness and affinity, and a higher level of consumer trust in the brand. Not only do these elements positively impact bottom line objectives, but also support other company activities like recruitment due to favourable positioning.
“Company branded messages reach 561% further when shared by employees versus branded.” (www.postbeyond.com)
Ways to promote staff support & activity success
Position relevant/key employees as thought leaders and trusted advisors. This not only impacts the brand positively, but also helps elevate employees’ personal brands. For certain companies, this could also lead to more business. For example, a high-level or high-involvement sale often relies heavily on the relationship between sales consultant and potential client. As most people research new acquaintances online, the more impressive; credible and trusted the brand’s employees look, the higher the possibility of closing the deal.
Include value-rich content for users: Centre messaging should on interesting or useful content such as articles or tips. If you need to send out direct marketing posts, incorporate some sort of value for the recipient, such as a great offer or valuable resource.
Craft posts in a way that makes staff want to share it with their audience. Again, valuable and interesting content is key. This includes posts shared directly from the brand’s page, as well as employee-generated content. Visually appealing, good quality content is imperative to encourage staff advocacy.
Make the process as simple as possible. This means providing them with suitable high-quality, correctly sized images. Written content for posts can be provided as well should certain employees prefer a less time-consuming option.
“33% of employees agreed that relevant content would encourage them to share.” (postbeyond.com)
Employee Amplification Strategy & Risk Mitigation Tips
Start by getting staff trained on social media fundamentals. Training will provide them with a basic knowledge of social media etiquette (such as do’s and don’ts), as well as best practices per platform. This upskills and empowers staff. It also ensures a level of quality when it comes to social media activities. These skills will benefit them in both in their personal and professional capacities.
Have a social media policy in place to mitigate potential risk. This is an imperative requirement that needs to be in place before employee amplification activities start. It provides staff with rules to abide by and sets out company recourse if they fail to do so (including possible legal action). It is best to consult a legal expert knowledgeable on the social media legal landscape for advice.
Implement an internal social media procedure. Structure a plan that includes an approval process so that all content is screened prior to publishing. Each participating employee’s personal accounts should also be screened before they share any company posts. This will prevent the brand from unintentionally associating themselves with undesirable viewpoints that the employee may have on their page (such as prejudicial or controversial content).
Offer employee incentives. While you may be fortunate enough to have staff that are happy to share brand messaging out of sheer loyalty, use incentives as effective motivators. Whether you measure trackable data (e.g. clicks to website) or engagement statistics (such as comments, shares and likes), the choice is yours. You can also have specific rewards for a certain outcome, such as lead generation or recruitment referrals. You are likely to find quite quickly that the value gained from leveraging off staff resources far outweigh the incentive expense.
“31% of high-growth firms have a formalized employee advocacy program.” (Hinge Marketing)
Social Media Employee Amplification is an under-utilized method that could open up vast opportunities for your organisation. However, it is a technique that requires planning, research and infrastructure before implementation. Statistics clearly reflect that the effort and resources required are a viable investment with attractive returns. In this context, being a statistic is a good thing – so get started now!