How do you tap into the power of an engaged workforce on social media? To find out, I’ve had a chat with Ed Terpening of Altimeter Group who has done extensive research in the employee advocacy space.
What results do brands expect when they invest in employee advocacy?
There are three that we looked at. Basically the most popular was engaging customers. So 45% of brands said, “We’re doing this because we want our employees to engage with customers through further reach, through answering questions perhaps, by getting more brand page followers, by getting product ideas and feedback,” so that sort of thing. So that was the first.
The other was engaging their own employees. If you look at the research on how engaged or disengaged employees are today, the numbers are pretty dismal. So there’s a very small percentage of employees that report that they’re truly engaged in their work. And so what we found is that many brands using employee advocacy is actually a way to just inform their employees about what’s going on within the company.
And then the third was a direct financial return. So this would include social selling for example, looking for an ROI in terms of campaigns and product offers that might go through employees, that sort of thing.
Would you say social selling is part of employee advocacy?
Yes, it is. It’s kind of a subset of it. And Charlene Li, our principal analyst, is looking at social selling as well because, especially on the B2B side, if you think about social, it’s all about relationship building. And that direct connection that a salesperson can make to a possible client or a prospect is really important, and it’s shifting away from golf games to LinkedIn and other social and online platforms. So it is a subset of that. It’s a little different obviously but it is part of the mix.
How do employee posts compare to social advertising?
What we found was that the click through rates for example on social posts are extremely high. So for example, consumers reported that they like a post 21% of the time. They’ve shared a post about 13% of the time. They’ve commented on a post 10% and they’ve shared it. Or actually LinkedIn I should say, linked from the post, the social, the employee post to the website of the brand, and that came out at 8%.
So if you look at an 8% click-through rate, you would never get that in an ad. Even in a social ad, the highest rates we see, or the rates range between 1.4% and 3% at least on Facebook. So to get an 8% click-through rate is just pretty astounding. So I think a lot of folks are looking at these numbers.
Now the question I’m concerned about as well long term is that if employee advocacy becomes very, very widespread, consumers might start to tune out these posts just as they do ads over time. So we’ll see, we’re early in the process, but so far the results that consumers have told us, that they like, share, that they click into the brand’s website are very, very encouraging.
More on this topic at Employee Advocacy: The Ultimate Handbook.