employee advocacy

With Nielsen reporting that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family, there is no denying that word of mouth can be one of the most trusted and effective marketing methods for swaying buying decisions. Many businesses have tried to take advantage of this new found knowledge by deploying employee advocacy. This is the act of sharing brand content through employees’ social networks for all their connections to see.

In March 2016, LinkedIn uncovered some rather astonishing results regarding the effect of employee advocacy for brand engagement and how this differs when an employee shares versus when a company does. We have since compared their results with our own to help evaluate this a bit further.

LinkedIn’s results

For every post that is shared, they discovered that employees receive on average a 2x higher click through rate than when the same piece of content is shared through the company. So viewers are clicking twice as often, compared to the identical piece of content being shared by the company. Their statistics back up Nielsen’s results about trusting recommendations from people we know.

Their research further uncovered that the larger the company, the more they benefited from employee advocacy. Companies with more than 10,000 employees saw click-through rates 2.4% higher than the company shares, and companies with less than 10,000 saw click-through rates over 1.8% higher. This figure is not surprising as it makes sense for the click through rate to increase the more employees post it, due to it having access to a wider audience.

Our analysis

There is no doubting that employees should always be fully utilised and share brand content to their network. I do, however, believe that you need to be realistic about the type of results you will receive if you only ever post brand content.

Our results show that employees will only receive a 2x higher click through rate once the employer has built a thought leader status. So our figures, in fact, show that, on average, employees will not receive higher engagement than your company. Well not unless they are willing to make some serious changes to their current social activity. Here’s why:

  1. Thought leadership – You cannot expect all employees to become highly recognised in their industry overnight, just by sharing one of your posts. It just doesn’t happen like that. Especially when all employees are sharing exactly the same content, some even choosing to not change the post title. To truly stand out you need to be willing to work for it.
  2. Invest in your personal brand – Timothy Hughes (@Timothy_Hughes on Twitter), a thought leader in the world of social selling, has written a fantastic post about making time for social media. You have to be dedicated and engaged with social media. Using a social automation platform is just not enough, you need to reply and engage with the community if you expect to get noticed and build your status. Don’t be fooled into thinking you will receive instant gratification, it takes time to build a thought leader status.
  3. Range of content – Let’s think of this logically. If you only shared brand content, what would make you stand out from the company itself and other employees, all sharing that same content? You need to bring more to the table to receive a click through rate 2x higher than the company itself. You need to humanise your social presence by engaging in the community and sharing others content. Show all of them that you have a personality and you are not just a robot.

Let’s not forget, though, it’s not all doom and gloom, you do still, on average, have 5x more exposure than if you were to just share content through your companies social media account. So don’t stop employee advocacy in your business, let it long continue. Just be realistic about the results you will receive because after all results come from those who work hard.