Why Employee Advocacy Is A Marketing Priority (2023 Update)

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As our team knows, I’m a big proponent of revisiting the reasons why we got into this business in the first place. Why is employee advocacy important? Why should marketers care?

Now more than ever it’s important to ask ourselves if the things we’re doing and the ways in which we’re doing them are well suited to the current environment.

If you’re a marketer, you know full well there’s a major upheaval going on. Traditional channels have been degrading for years and new channels (social) and tools (AI) add fuel to that fire.

But with great change come great opportunities. The key, of course, is finding a good place to jump in and having the courage to do so.

Wait too long, or worse, disregard what’s going on. and you risk losing out. As one of my mentors used to say, if you can’t see an opportunity, you’re dead.”

Advocacy as a Marketing Must

First, let’s address two question I get often:

If you’re nodding your head thinking, “Yeah, I know what it is, and I know why it’s important, stick with me. I’m going to include some data that you may not have seen.

The fact is that right now in June 2023, the majority of organizations don’t have an employee advocacy program in place.

And the majority of the organizations that do have programs in place haven’t fully scaled those programs. They haven’t activated more than 25% of their employees.

Point being, it’s still early days and, like all new marketing channels, the closer you are to the early adopter end of the curve, the better the results you can expect to drive.

This is why so many of our clients’ CMOs describe employee advocacy as their secret weapon when it comes to driving growth.

To level set, what is employee advocacy? We define it as your people sharing your most important content to their social networks. Pretty simple.

Critically, most important content can mean a lot of different things.

It can mean your corporate content, blog posts, press releases, product launch announcements, event promotions, new hire announcements, etc.

It can also mean content that your employees find or better yet create themselves: day-in-the-life stories, a photo from a client visit, a video from a trade show, etc.

Why Your Advocacy Efforts Should Begin Now

In our view, there are three reasons:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Efficiency
  3. Algorithmic prioritization.

Authenticity is obvious.

People (customers, prospects, future hires, etc. ) want to engage with the people at your organization: your employees. Enabling them to do so is how we achieve max authenticity.

Efficiency maybe isn’t so obvious, but it’s critically important right now, when all marketing teams are being asked to do more with less.

As a marketer, you want to invest only in things that create positive ROI — things that produce more value (revenue, leads, etc. ) for the business than the capital, time, etc. you put in.

This is the crux of why employee advocacy applies to all businesses: All businesses need to market, and employee advocacy is one of the highest ROI marketing bets you can make.

See, when your employees share your content to their social networks, they produce the same outcomes (impressions, clicks, engagements) as paid social (ads), but at a fraction of the cost.

What’s a fraction? Clicks, engagements, and impressions generated from your employees shares cost 1/10th of what it would cost to generate the same outcomes via paid social.

Said differently, if it takes $1.00 to generate a click via a social ad, it takes $0.10 to generate the same result via employee advocacy. That’s what’s known as the network effect.

And that’s not saying anything about quality. Do you think someone is more likely to engage with an ad or something they see posted by a real person? You get the point.

But wait, there’s more.

When you run an ad, it has a start and an end date. When you start paying, it’s shown to your target audience and when you stop paying, it’s taken away.

Conversely, employee shares live on forever. Literally for eternity. Your people are the organic content of the social world; we routinely see shares that are >90 days old continuing to generate engagement.

Finally, let’s touch on algorithmic prioritization. Perhaps the most compelling reason why you should be building a scaled advocacy program.

Fact is, social networks prioritize content posted by people over content posted by brands, publishers, and advertisers.  

Take the same piece of content, have a bunch of your people share it, and then share it via your brand page (without boosting it with ad spend).

I guarantee you the shares from your people will outperform the post on your brand page by multiples. In fact, one of our clients (Adobe) did an analysis of this and found the multiple was nearly 6x.

Six hundred percent more engagement on content shared by employees as compared to when that same content was shared via a brand page.

When You Prioritize Advocacy, You’ll See the ROI

Right now is a better time than ever to launch an employee advocacy program or scale the one you’ve already established.

I regularly talk with CMOs of major organizations and the message from them to their teams has been consistent as of late: Do more with less, scale the stuff that produces efficient results.

We know from >10yrs experience that your people want to share your company’s content to their networks. You just need to make it easy and give them direction and the tools to do so.

And we’re still in early innings. It’s AMAZING to see what happens when companies empower their people to advocate on social.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your time and attention! We’re so excited about what our clients are doing and what we have planned for the coming months.

If you want to better understand what results employee advocacy could drive for your organization, check out our employee advocacy ROI calculator.

It takes just 10 seconds. Pop your number of employees in and you’ll get a report detailing the results you could be generating in your first year.

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