Employee Advocacy is Coming for B2C Companies

22 minute read

How many of your employees are active on social?

Ogilvy recently put out an Influencer Trends report that called employee advocacy the #1 trend for 2024. Boom!

The report also said that employee advocacy is still in its early days, especially with B2C companies. It’s exact words are, “A giant wave is coming to B2C. Now is the time to make sure that you and your brand are ahead of the curve.”

We couldn’t agree more. Employee advocacy works for any company: B2B, B2B2C, B2C, or B2X. All employees are advocates.

And B2C brands have something that other types of organizations don’t: real brands! I’m talking about brands with a lot of awareness that people already have an emotional connection with.

Consumer brands are all about emotion, experience, aspiration, etc., and there’s no better way to deliver on that than via word of mouth. This has always been the case. Did you buy that latest Apple iPhone because you saw an ad or because you saw someone else with an iPhone?

Word of mouth is employee advocacy.

We’re going to get into the where, what, when, and how of B2C employee advocacy, but let’s start with some examples of how it can and does work.

 

How B2C Companies Are — or Could Be — Leveraging Employee Advocates

  1. An Amazon delivery driver shares about their routine, giving an inside look at their day. (That’s solid employer branding content!)
  2. Delta Airlines flight attendants post updates on their journeys, tips for travelers, new routes, a new plane delivery, etc.
  3. An Apple store employee shares news about the latest products, as well as tips for using them. 
  4. Carnival Cruise employees share about their roles on the ship, interactions with guests, new offerings, etc.
  5. A Nike employee posts about new shoes and gear, their personal exercise routines, how Nike as a company supports them, new sponsorships, etc.
  6. Trek bicycles employees share photos of new bikes and team sponsorships and post highlights from their rides and races, etc.
  7. Ford cars assembly employees share inside looks at their process, new car launches, innovation in electric vehicles, etc.
  8. Nintendo employees post about their favorite games, what it’s like to work at Nintendo, etc.
  9. A Unilever employee posts about open roles, innovations, new products, sponsorships, corporate responsibility initiatives, etc.
  10. Pepsi Co employees share information about sponsorships, events, new products, etc.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s this: If it’s authentic, it’ll perform well. Advocacy can be anything, and, if it’s created by an employee, all the better!

So why hasn’t employee advocacy exploded for B2C organizations yet? In other words, why aren’t more of them doing it? And what’s it going to look like when the wave hits? Read on! 👇

B2C Companies Already Have Advocates — They Just Don’t Know it

Edelman put out some fantastic research recently highlighting how much employees already share about their work on social, and the numbers will blow your mind

  • More than 60% of employees under the age of 45 post about their work on social media weekly.  
  • More than 40% of employees under the age of 45 share content they create. 

And these numbers only increase as younger generations enter the workforce.  

The point here is that every single B2C company on the planet has some number of employees who are already advocates.

Related: Find your active employee advocates right now

They’re sharing about their work, products, innovation, experiences, etc. — and most of the time they’re sharing content that they created!

This is amazing and proves that advocacy works for B2C.

So Why Don’t More B2C Companies Leverage Employee Advocacy?

Here at EveryoneSocial, we’ve been working with companies on their employee advocacy programs since 2012. The biggest programs in the world run on EveryoneSocial.

Anecdotally, I’d say somewhere around 20% of our clients over the last decade have been B2C, while 80% have been B2B. Point being, historically B2C companies have been in the minority.

Zooming out, there aren’t many areas where B2B companies lead the way, and that’s especially true when it comes to marketing.

The stuff that’s cool, innovative, etc., happens in the B2C world; think Apple vs. Microsoft.  

However, that rule isn’t true when it comes to employee advocacy.  B2B owns that crown … for now.

Why? If employee advocacy is about employees who want to talk and share about the cool stuff they’re doing, how come B2C companies haven’t been eager to adopt it?

I could riff on how B2C marketers are different from B2B marketers, but I think it comes down to something they both have in common: Most marketers want to spend; they don’t want to build.

What do I mean by that? Most marketing, especially in the B2C world, involves spending money, primarily on agencies and ads.

In the last few years, especially the last decade, a TON of money has gone into digital/social ads. We’re talking >$200B per year.

Marketing is about reaching your customers and buyers, and the prevailing mentality (thank you Google and Facebook) is that you do that by running ads.

Related: How employee influencers improve your paid ad strategy

This has a number of side effects, one of which is that marketers have a lower tolerance for investing in things that are less demand-oriented.

This is especially true with B2C, where they’re trying to drive high-volume, low-price transactions compared with B2B, which is the reverse (lower-volume, higher-price transactions).

Having worked with many B2B marketing teams over the last year, I can tell you that all marketers, in some way shape or form, have a hard time investing for the long-term.

Truthfully, investing for the long-term is something we all struggle with.

But this is especially true with B2C companies. Investing in an advocacy program requires vision, and vision is something that extends further than this month’s sales targets.

So, here’s the net: There’s no fundamental reason why more B2C companies can’t leverage their employees as advocates right now.

With that in mind, let’s talk about how some visionary, innovative B2C companies DO leverage advocacy today — and how it’s paying off for them.

Where Employee Advocacy Works Well for B2C Companies Right Now

I’ll start with a simple truth: Employee advocacy works up and down a funnel and across the business.

It works for comms, executives, HR, marketing, sales, frontline workers, back office employees, you name it. But, and especially when it comes to B2C, there are some key areas where it works really well, producing fantastic results that you can directly tie to a top business objective.

#1 – Recruiting and employer branding

Every single company, B2B, B2C, B2X needs to hire people. Any company’s performance is a function of the quality and ability of its people.

Further, and more than ever before, pretty much every company is in competition with each other, especially when it comes to technical talent.  

Consumer packaged goods companies compete with tech companies, which compete with consulting companies, which compete with e-commerce companies. 

So, how do you reach top talent in this hyper-competitive environment? Where does the talent you want to hire spend their time? How do you pique their interest and drive them to take action?

Related: 9 ways to grow and improve your talent pool

Let me illustrate with a quick story.

A few months ago, I was in France meeting with the CMO of one of the world’s largest CPG companies.

During our conversation, she said, “What do you think of when you think of our company? We think of ourselves as a tech company.”

This isn’t a software company — it sells things like shampoo and cosmetics. But, she’s 100% right: If you’re going to thrive in the years to come, you have to be a tech company.

So, how does this CPG company effectively compete for engineers, designers, data scientists, etc., with the REAL tech companies (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.)?

By prioritizing social. The people this company — and every company —  wants to reach are primarily on Linkedin and X.

We have other resources that go into how to leverage employee advocacy for employer branding and recruiting, but suffice it to say that this works exceptionally well.

Employees enjoy sharing about their work, recruiters are super social people, and candidates love engaging with employer brand content. 

That’s why employee advocacy for recruiting and employer branding just works.

Consider this single stat: When one of our users shares a job post from EveryoneSocial to Linkedin or X it generates an average of 32 clicks!

Here’s another stat: I was with a BIG tech company that just activated 150 recruiters and employer brand managers on EveryoneSocial.

Over one month, its shares drove >7,000 visits to its careers website that resulted in >650 application submissions.

Those >7,000 visits and >650 application submissions cost roughly $250.  There isn’t a demand-gen team on the planet that could drive those results for that budget via paid ads.

Related: The company that hired the most people in history

Like I said, leveraging employee advocacy for recruiting and employer branding just works and it works fantastically and it doesn’t matter if you’re B2B, B2C, or B2X.

So, if you’re looking for a reason to step into employee advocacy at your B2X company, this is where we advise starting.  

#2 – Brand awareness

As I write this post, I’m on the road preparing for a presentation to a global B2C company that spends >$600M per year on ads.

As the saying goes, “I know half my marketing budget is working, I just don’t know which half!” That’s a LOT of money and I know for certain it’s not all resulting in measurable results.

When you activate your people as advocates, they share content to their social networks, which generates the SAME outcomes as ads: impressions, clicks, and engagements.

With ads, you’re spending your company’s precious treasure, hoping that you’re reaching the right people. But with advocacy, your employees are already connected with the people you want to reach AND the content they share is authentic.

It’s not an ad, which is why it’s so much more effective. In fact, 92% of consumers trust online content from colleagues, family, and friends above all forms of brand message.

Here’s another little story.

We had a major telecom company come to us, a big B2C telecom company, and its comms team was spending >$3M per year on ads to promote its content.

The company approached us because its people had done the math and concluded that activating their employees as advocates could produce the same outcomes (impressions) for a fraction of what they spend on ads.

With an advocacy program on EveryoneSocial, they were able to do just that. They generated MORE impressions, at a higher quality (they were organic posts from real employees, not ads), for less than 10% of what they were previously spending on ads.

Think about that: more and better results for 1/10th of what it would have cost them via paid ads!

If you’ve made it this far, thank you! Hopefully this is making sense? If the answer is yes, let’s talk about how to actually put advocacy into action at your company.  

How to Launch a B2C Employee Advocacy Program

First some good news: The vast majority of your employees are already active on social media!  They’re sharing about their work, your company weekly, maybe daily.

There are really only two things you need to do to get going:

  1. Activate as many of these people as possible (get them under your employee advocacy tent
  2. Use the data to validate that you’re reaching your target audiences

Regarding the first point, we’re here to help. EveryoneSocial is the only solution that can continuously help you identify employees who are already active on social media.

This takes all the guesswork out of growing your program. We can tell you right now how many people you have active on social and who’s the most active, so you can choose whom to invite.

Activating your advocates with EveryoneSocial is so simple. It takes just seconds.

Related: See the incredible impact of employee influencers

Regarding the second point, as soon as you start activating users in EveryoneSocial, you’ll get data. And not just any data. Data you’ve never seen before. Data that connects the content you and your advocates post to social directly to your customers, target accounts, hiring candidates, etc.

EveryoneSocial is the only employee advocacy solution that validates your content is reaching your target audiences.  

Now, you might be asking yourself, “Wait I thought advocacy was about sharing, and all they’re talking about is activating our people and benefiting from the data?”

That’s right! With EveryoneSocial, once your people are activated, you start getting valuable data. And the more they share, the more you’ll get.

What If All Your Content on Went Viral? With Advocacy, It’s Possible!

EveryoneSocial provides a myriad of tools that make this super simple, quick, and easy. Here are some examples of where to start:

  • Amplify brand content. You post to your brand pages and accounts, don’t you? And you’re boost those with ads? Why not take that exact same content and push it to your employees for them to reshare, like, and engage with? After all, employee-shared content gets eight times more engagement than content shared through brand channels. This is employee advocacy.
  • Amplify executive posts. Maybe you have executives who are active on social or you’re trying to come up with ways to make that happen? Take the stuff your execs (or their comms resource) posts and push it to your people for them to reshare, comment, like, etc. This is employee advocacy as well.
  • Amplify internal/external influencer posts. Chances are you already have people (employees or those you pay) who create and share content on social. Take their content and push it to your people for them to re-amplify. Again, this is employee advocacy.

Here’s the point: Amplification of your EXISTING content is employee advocacy, and it’s a great place to start because you already have the content!

A lot of teams think that advocacy is simply getting your people to share original content. Yes, that is a part of it — sometimes a big part — but amplification can be even bigger, especially for B2C.

What happens when we like, engage with, or reshare something that was already posted to social? It gets prioritized by the algorithm to reach an even broader audience!

Related: How the LinkedIn algorithm works — and how to make it work for you

Imagine if everything you posted to social went viral? That’s what we’re talking about here. Take that brand post, that exec post, that employee post, heck, even that ad, and make it viral!

What’s in Store for the Future?

There’s no question that employee advocacy is going to become a massive trend across all B2C companies. We 100% agree with Ogilvy on that front. (Get the Ogilvy report.)

We also agree that now’s the time to step into the pool.  When it comes to marketing, the early bird gets the worm, and the earlier you are on a trend, the better the results.

As I’ve outlined above, there are some tried and true paths for you to build a successful program at your B2C company, right now, quickly, and efficiently.

You could save a bundle on ads and generate better results at a fraction of the cost of what you currently spend.

And there’s no point in waiting around. With a little bit of budget, some time, and some vision, you can have a mind-blowingly successful advocacy program.

Request a demo if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you and your team establish an industry-leading advocacy program. We’re excited to help!

 


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