Since 2008 the economic crisis, brand loyalty and trust are at an all-time low, and traditional sales techniques are less effective. Almost all your customers are online researching, engaging, and connecting on social.
COVID has meant a boom in technology adoption with remote working; we are yearning for real human connection. At a time when our thoughts are with our families and friends, we can empathise better with our colleagues and customers experiencing similar.
Get Social to Reach Your Customers – Here’s How?
You may have seen in March 2020, while we were all coming to terms with enforced lockdown, EE, the mobile network offered free data to National Health Service key workers. Now I am not a key worker, but this does not only win over keyworkers, but I would also look favourably on this brand because of what they are doing for key workers. What about you?
Customers are watching what you do; customers will remember how you treat them and how you treat your people, employees and colleagues and other stakeholders. This is how they measure your brand values; it is a demonstration of your company walking their talk.
During March, I started sewing scrubs for the NHS keyworkers at the weekends, Scrubs Hub this community based voluntary movement. I posted in LinkedIn, and the engagement I got was off the roof. LINKEDIN the business network!
What has changed is professional, and business communication has become personal. Trust is a human value; engagement happens between people, not companies, but the individuals in within businesses. Customers trust what they know; they need to know what you stand for and your values. According to Edelman research, more people trust a regular employee (53%) than a CEO (47%). Even more people (65%) trust a company technical expert.
Why Leverage Your People to Become Your Greatest Asset and Resource?
You may have a competent marketing department; however, the collective power of people/colleagues is higher than the efforts of the marketers.
Ten people X 1000 followers x 2 posts per week = 20,000 potential viewers of your content per week! X 50 weeks = 1,000,000
If at least one colleague commented, shared, and liked this post or one person from their personal network and so on… The result is like the R rate of COVID19, it is exponential distribution 2 million, becomes 4 million, becomes 16 million potential viewers.
Why People Empowered Social is Best
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer has focused on what they call the Employer-Employee partnership to look at levels of trust at work. Technical experts and ‘regular employees’ consistently at the top on trust; however, the biggest rise came from “A person like yourself.”
People, including your customers, perceive experts as objective and employees as trustworthy, and they trust their peers or people like themselves. Leveraging your employees and experts, to convey your brand values and message is utilising your best resource to engage in mutually beneficial social media conversations.
- 84% of consumers’ value recommendations from friends and family above all forms of advertising.
- 59% of survey respondents stated that they recommended a company to a friend or colleague in the last 12 months.
- 77% of consumers are likely to purchase after hearing about it from someone they trust.
- Nearly 86% of employees involved in a formal advocacy program say it had a positive effect on their careers.
- LinkedIn found that employees of a company tend to have ten times more followers than the company itself.
- LinkedIn discovered while only about 2% of employees reshare their company’s social posts, they are responsible for 20% of the overall engagement.
People, including customers, trust their personal connections, and your employees and colleagues are already connected online to hundreds or thousands of people.
Employee advocacy works because peer-to-peer marketing influences 20-50% of purchasing decisions. It taps into established relationships to win credibility and grow engagement. Content shared by employees and colleagues receives 8X more engagement than content shared by and on brand channels.
I recommend having a higher purpose beyond selling your products; this is most important in the current environment. Think back to the EE example, having a higher purpose around what the company does for customers, based on the collective values of the people within the business, makes it sharable.
Check that the company culture and employee trust are in a healthy state and if not, fix this first. Employees who trust their employer are twice as likely to engage in employee advocacy.
Scale Your Sales 9 Steps to Initiating your People Social Engagement Programme
- Start slow and learn what works for your company culture and customers.
- Identify those colleagues that are already creating content on their personal social channels and those that have a notable following, influence, or expertise, are ideal for a pilot group of advocacy colleagues.
- Remember, this is a two-way process; it is as much about listening to the pilot participants ideas about the best way to engage colleagues and customer through the social programme.
- Give support to leverage what they are already doing and help them to do it better.
- Co-create content and test what is working, sharing the analytics within the group.
- Remember, this must be mutually beneficial; how can the company help to amplify the individual’s profile and reach?
- Phase two is to deliver company-wide training on the success of the pilot group and help the whole company to see the benefits and support the initiative.
- Offer company-wide training in social media and social selling focused on helping employees and colleagues know the value of building their online profiles and giving them the tools to create and share engaging content and the company brand values.
- Once you have created a robust learning social engagement practice, consider further investment in and rolling out an employee advocacy software tool. Along with training your trainers drawn from your pilot advocacy group, to help to maintain support across departments and company-wide phase two roll-out.
The mistakes that companies make, they invest in expensive software and expect all the whole company to get involved with little support or training. Colleagues think what is in it for me, and usually, only a small group maintain their involvement and the employee advocacy programme fails to deliver long-term. Before you invest – test a pilot programme using the tools you already have within your marketing armoury.
The aim is to create stories from employee content by sharing what they do that portrays the business values and culture and to encouraging employee and colleagues to share what the company does that is great.
You want your colleagues to be proud not only of what they do but to share the impact their work has on the customer.
You want your colleagues to take over your channels to create and share engaging content that is relevant to customers.
You want your colleagues to be the face of the business using video, stories and as such, actively engaging with your customers.
The Edelman Trust Barometer employee engagement survey substantiates the value of employee advocacy and social selling not only for sales professionals but as your most cost-effective marketing resources.