Do you want to grow your business faster? Don't answer that. Of course you do. The real question is: why aren't you looking deeper into employee advocacy? The Hinge Research Institute found that high growth firms were more than twice as likely to use employee advocacy to hit their revenue targets.
This is where you probably want to say, "Slow down. What's employee advocacy?" Just asking that question puts you ahead of 30 percent of your competitors, according to the Hinge report. For marketing, it's an effective way to increase content reach and engagement but your sales teams , this is crucial for building credibility, authority and thought leadership online. We all know the statistic already but 74% of today’s B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase.
Employee Advocacy = Explosive Amplification
Employee advocacy means deploying your army of employees and other stakeholders to expand the distribution reach of your content over individual social profiles. Opening up this definition to include other stakeholders grants you access to the networks of your business partners, up and down the supply chain, and even your customers.
The Hinge report found that 64 percent of companies with a formal employee advocacy program successfully deployed it to attract and develop new business. In addition, 45 percent answered that it brought them new revenue streams. Research from Cisco shows that a 12% increase in brand advocacy generates a 2x increase in revenue growth.
It's no wonder that the number of companies that support employee content sharing has grown by nearly 200 percent over the past two years. Creative approaches to employee advocacy programs are among the top trends to watch in 2016, according to Fast Company.
The reason everyone is jumping on board is because an employee advocacy platform can immediately improve your sales effectiveness. Amplifying the reach of your content speeds up the sales process, fills your pipeline and boosts your engagement with existing customers.
These programs introduce your content to new networks through connections that they already trust. As more and more content is shared along original trajectories, your company will steadily build up greater authority and establish credibility across a much wider readership base.
The Edelmen Trust Barometer revealed that consumers identify employees as the most trusted source for messages about brand engagement, integrity, operations, and products and services. In support of those findings, IBM reported that buyers are seven times more likely to be influenced by messages from friends and family than from companies.
Converting Influence into Revenue
According to Aberdeen Group, 72.6% of salespeople using Social Selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often. In the B2B sales context, by leveraging the right content, at the right time and in the right channel, your opportunity to spark relevant sales conversations significantly increases.
What good is sharing content over employee networks in addition to the brand's official channel? Ask Starbucks. Starbucks built on employee advocacy to secure 36 million Facebook likes and 10 million Twitter followers. Even better than that, their employees converted their Tweet-a-Coffee campaign into $180,000 in direct sales in under 30 days. Promoting peer-to-peer communication is essential in taking advantage of the social/mobile revolution.
It Really Is All About Who You Know
The mobile and the social revolutions happened at the same time because each reinforced the other. As people began to spend more of their lives on the go, they needed to stay connected with their online networks. Today, eight out of ten sales managers say that their sales force would be more productive with a greater social media presence. An employee advocacy program is the next logical step in making that a reality.
The only thing standing in the way is making sure that your sales force has the Social Selling training in order to use social media the right way. Don't reinvent the wheel. The loss to your company's online reputation can take years to correct if you don't approach Social Selling correctly. Get the tools, get the training, and then set your employees and other stakeholders free to share content wherever they go. The companies that do so are already seeing faster growth and deeper market penetration.