Using the Power of Employees for Social Media Advocacy

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“A social media advocacy program is much more effective than relying on traditional advertising methods. In the digital age, peer-to-peer recommendations are the most powerful advertising tools available,” – HootSuite.com

Businesses, commerce, and the purveyors of commercial activity have allied with various forms of available technology down the ages. Sea-going vessels remain a primary manifestation of this partnership between commerce and technology. In modern times, brands and businesses have joined forces with electronic technologies in a bid to expand their business remit. The use of social media advocacy has gained momentum as more businesses seek new marketing channels beyond conventional marketing paradigms. In this context, we must note that brands and businesses must explore the use of their employees in a bid to boost social media advocacy campaigns.

Employee-driven social media advocacy can boost a brand’s visibility on social media networks. This statement gains credence from the fact that most employees are active members of multiple social media networks. This promises outstanding reach for marketing campaigns built around the said premise. For instance, an FMCG brand can commission the creation of a set of product images in attractive visual formats. These images can then be distributed among the firm’s employees with a view to further dispersal through the personal networks of these employees. The mechanics of the said campaign operate on the premise that each employee can cite these visual marketing images in their home pages and personal handles on social media thereby raising awareness among their friends and social media contacts. We note that this technique hinges on social media advocacy and can boost visibility for the FMCG brand by creating much wider outreach outcomes than, say, a traditional marketing campaign.

An extension of the above campaign is observed when the friends and contacts ‘like’ and ‘share’ the aforesaid images on their social media handles. This creates a viral effect and enables the brand to propagate its brand image through social media channels. Subsequently, a critical mass is achieved that may saturate certain sections of said channels, thereby positively influencing customers and consumers. We note that this aspect of social media advocacy enables a brand or a business to achieve cost-efficient outcomes of marketing campaigns and significantly widening the customer base.

Intent and empowered action can be the twin planks that propel a successful social media advocacy programme centred round employees. Every employer must realise that the current generation of youth is termed as ‘digital natives’ that conduct a significant amount of actions in the digital domain. These actions include shopping, browsing, conversations, socialising, sharing information, etc. Therefore, brands and businesses should work to empower their employees with a view to driving social media advocacy campaigns. For instance, a retail business operation can enable its employees to spend a certain quantum of their work time on social media activities. These activities should be driven with an intent to promote a brand or a business in social media. Employers should prize employee initiatives in such matters and deploy the power of social media advocacy in the service of brand promotion. That said, employers should make it a point to issue a checklist that outlines desirable online actions.

Interested brands and businesses can encourage employees to curate content on social media channels. Content in the form of online blogs, product reviews, employee views, online forums, and online quizzes. These actions are significant because they increase brand awareness and consideration among online audiences. The social media advocacy campaign can be expanded to include high-value online communities that will likely transact with the brand in the future. Further, employees can be encouraged to re-purpose existing content with a view to boost the intrinsic value of such content in the context of customer engagement. For instance, a deodorant brand can elect to create an outstanding presence on social media through innovative advertising campaigns. Employees of the brand can boost social media advocacy when they position vintage brand marketing materials on their social media presences. This action can pique customer curiosity and boost interest in the brand. Subsequently, current advertising and marketing promotional materials can be parked on the said handles in a bid to highlight the contrast between these sets of artefacts. We note that this approach will help said brand to re-engage  customers and drive additional marketing ‘buzz’ in the realm of social media.

Reward and recognition of social media advocacy efforts can create a virtuous cycle that underlines employees’ online actions. This is important because it indicates corporate intent to acknowledge the outcomes of employee motivation and performance. For instance, a marketer of software products can reward outstanding employee-driven social media advocacy efforts. The regular and incremental effort invested by employees in such advocacy campaigns can create significant outcomes for the said business. The ensuing reward and recognition programmes can encourage more employees to participate in such campaigns thereby expanding the scope of future brand actions. That said, we must note that these businesses must objectively evaluate the range of achievements before they put in place the rewards programme.

Collaboration between employees and marketing departments can amplify the outcomes of planned social media advocacy programmes. Brands and businesses should make an effort to connect employee-driven advocacy with planned marketing initiatives in an effort to reduce haphazard actions. For instance, an automobile manufacturer can choose to calibrate its traditional marketing campaigns so that these synchronise with employee-driven social media advocacy campaigns. The duties and responsibilities may be clearly demarcated so that both work groups are aware of corporate expectations and work to fulfil the allotted goals. This approach can reduce the hazards of work confusion and optimise the outcomes of co-ordinated actions.

A formal employee-driven social media advocacy programme has the potential to develop a significantly higher number of leads for a business enterprise. We note that employees have friends and associates that are dispersed across regions and geographies. These entities are a repository of valuable leads for business organizations. Therefore, a formal advocacy programme can enrol a majority of the employees in an organization and thereby boost the outreach quotient for a brand or a business. That said, we note that many employees may have contact with random individuals through online channels. These persons or entities may connect to the business as an outcome of the employee-driven advocacy programme. The quantum of business yielded by such contacts can be potentially immense, thereby creating a distinct business advantage for the commercial entity. In light of the above, we note that brands and businesses must encourage the active creation and propagation of such advocacy efforts.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the premises that underlie the rationale for undertaking an active employee-driven social media advocacy programme. We note that commercial organizations should acknowledge the fact that such programmes help to attract and develop new business. An employee can be an outstanding brand advocate and this is a priceless advantage to wield in modern competitive markets. Every employee has the potential to emerge as a brand ambassador and carry the ensign of a business into virgin markets and uncharted waters. Certain risks do accompany such a programme but these are more than outweighed when we consider the significant scope of benefits that ensue.

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