Today, employee advocacy is critical to companies’ success, as they seek to leverage employees’ voices and networks to build employer brand, drive engagement, and authentically promote products and services.
So it’s not surprising that 31% of high-growth companies have an employee influencer program in place — more than twice the average of low- to medium-growth organizations.
A key factor in the success of such programs beyond content distribution at scale is the network effect.
In this post, we’ll look at the role of the network effect in social media and explore how companies can maximize its impact by leveraging the right tools, processes, and incentives to encourage employees to share content with their networks.
What is the Network Effect?
The network effect is a phenomenon whereby the value of a network-based product or service — in this case, social media platforms and an employee advocacy platform — increases as more people use it or participate in it.
A classic example of the network effect is the internet.
When the internet first launched, there were few users interacting online and uploading content, so it was mainly valuable to its primary users: scientists and the military.
However, when the internet became commercially available in homes in the nineties, more people began using it and producing content and offering online services.
The more people who used the internet — to create content, improve websites, launch online business, and more — made it more valuable to each individual user, leading to further adoption.
In other words, it created a continuous cycle of growth that established the world wide web we know today. 🌐
What are some other examples of the network effect?
There are numerous examples of the network effect on the internet, and many of today’s most successful companies were heavily influenced by it.
Take Twitter, for example, as more users began using the micro-blogging service and sharing thoughts, links, and media, the more value Twitter had to the public at large.
Other companies that credit the network effect to their success include Google, LinkedIn, TikTok, eBay, Amazon, Stubhub, Uber, Lyft, and Instacart.
In fact, studies show that the network effect is responsible for approximately 70% of the value creation in tech! 🤯
How Does the Network Effect Work?
The network effect works through a positive feedback loop that reinforces the value of a product or service as more people use it.
Let’s take a closer look at the network effect by breaking it down into four steps:
- Initial adoption: A product or service — let’s say it’s EveryoneSocial — is introduced and gains initial traction with a small group of users.
- Increased value: As more of a company’s employees begin using EveryoneSocial, its value increases for each individual user. How so? Because the platform becomes more useful for everyone as more people have access to it and create and share content for employees to access.
- Network growth: Then, as EveryoneSocial’s value grows (“Hey, I want access to company news and the opportunity to increase my network too!”), more people are incentivized to adopt it.
- Critical mass: Eventually, the network effect becomes self-sustaining, and the value of the product or service (in this case, EveryoneSocial) continues to grow even in the absence of external factors. This is known as reaching a critical mass. Once critical mass is attained, the good or service attracts countless new users because of the wealth of benefits it provides.
Now let’s take a closer look at how the network effect plays a crucial role in amplifying the reach and impact of employees sharing content. 👇
How Does an Employee Advocacy Platform Illustrate the Network Effect?
A pure play employee advocacy solution like EveryoneSocial is a great example of the network effect in action because the more employees that participate in the platform, the more valuable it becomes for all participants and their social networks.
For example, if an employee advocacy platform is used to share company news and updates, the more employees that participate, the more widely the information is disseminated and the more impactful it becomes.
This increased impact leads to greater employee engagement, which, in turn, leads to even more employees participating in the platform, creating a self-reinforcing cycle.
Additionally, the more employees that participate in the platform, the more diverse the perspectives and experiences that can be shared, making the platform more valuable and effective to everyone involved.
You won’t be surprised to learn then that, thanks to the magic of the network effect, our customers with the largest programs always see the greatest ROI.
In fact, when this Fortune 100 company rolled out EveryoneSocial to its U.S. sales team, the results were so phenomenal that it invited its salespeople worldwide to participate.
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How to Leverage the Network Effect to Make Your Advocacy Program a Success
By leveraging the network effect, an employee advocacy program creates a positive feedback loop that drives growth, engagement, and impact, leading to greater success for the company as a whole.
Just consider the scalability of employee networks. An average employee has 1,500 social connections, so enabling 100 people to share nets you an additional reach of 150,000.
But wait — there’s more!
- We can also see the network effect’s role in expanding an individual’s reach because when an employee makes a post, their secondary contacts will see that content after the employee’s primary connections engage with it. This exposes the content — and the brand itself — to people not even connected to your employees, such as in the example below.
- Plus, employees add 300+ new contacts to their network each year when they share and engage via the EveryoneSocial platform. So after a year, the average employee has 1,800 connections. And now you have 180,00 people via 100 employees. Increasing reach of first and secondary connection impact.
Hello, viral social loop potential!
Ready to kickstart that network effect? Here are five strategies to tap into the power of your people and empower the network effect.
1. Identify your power users and encourage them to be early adopters.
Half of employees already post about your company online — making LinkedIn posts about open positions, tweeting about company perks, writing Glassdoor reviews, and more.
Use interviews, surveys, or social listening to identify your active advocates and provide them with recognition and/or exclusive benefits to incentivize them to participate in your advocacy program.
Once they’re posting consistently — and being held up as an example — more employees will join in.
That’s the network effect in action!
2. Communicate the benefits of participation.
Ensure your people are familiar with the plethora of benefits that participation in your employee advocacy program can offer.
These include increased visibility, professional development opportunities, an expanded network, and the chance to establish and grow their personal brands.
3. Offer training.
You can’t (at least you shouldn’t) mandate participation in your employee advocacy program, but what you can do is make it as easy as possible to be part of it.
This involves educating your people about not only the benefits of participating, but also providing social media training, explaining your organization’s social media policy, and demonstrating how to use your advocacy platform.
(BTW, EveryoneSocial makes this a breeze. Our top-notch customer success team will show you the ropes, and our Managed Services offering can even do all the heavy lifting for you!)
And education should be ongoing. We recommend making social media and advocacy training part of your onboarding process, as well as providing ongoing support and resources that can include training, mentorship, and access to helpful tools.
4. Provide plenty of quality content.
If you want people to post from EveryoneSocial, you need to offer them the kind of content they actually want to share with their networks.
This could be company news and announcements or blog posts, but it can also include industry articles, the latest meme from the marketing department, employee-generated content (EGC), and more.
And it doesn’t have to just be links — experiment with various types of content, including videos, images, and more. (We also highly recommend inspiring great EGC with social media prompts.)
After all, when the content is actually interesting and engaging, people will share it. And when they do, it increases both the company’s visibility and the reach of its messaging.
5. Incentivize participation — and make it fun!
Provide incentives for participation, such as rewards, recognition, or exclusive benefits. This can help to motivate employees and increase engagement.
EveryoneSocial’s leaderboards and gamification features are designed to accomplish exactly this, and our customers have had great success using them to incentivize sharing.
For example, when ed-tech company Instructure harnessed the power of gamification, it experienced phenomenal results, growing content shares by 3,800% in just two months. 😮
Tap Into the Power of the Network Effect with EveryoneSocial
Ready to see how your employees can empower the network effect on social media by becoming your most powerful influencers?
Let EveryoneSocial help them strengthen company culture, build employer brand, and amplify the company’s reach through advocacy.