In the digital world, there’s no doubt that marketing has shifted dramatically away from the radio, television and print advertisements of the bygone advertising golden era. In fact, with the rise of social media, marketing is becoming less and less about formal advertising and more and more about authenticity, trust, and real time engagement. This shift has happened in all arenas of business, including those handling transactions with customers (B2C) and businesses handling transactions with other businesses (B2B). In fact, B2B companies are particularly well-suited for these emerging marketing concepts. With tactics like social selling and employee advocacy B2B companies are paving the way for marketers everywhere.
Employee-driven advocacy programs empower a company’s own employees as advocates rather than depending solely on corporate and influencer marketing strategies. Implementing employee advocacy means that employees use their personal social media channels and profiles to drive brand awareness, leads, and promotions for their company. Research has shown that content has a 151 percent greater reach when employees share it on their own social networks than when the company shares it directly. We trust our peers more than companies, period. It is effective because it comes across as a genuine endorsement of a product rather than an aggressive marketing ploy by a company.
B2B companies are particularly good candidates for employee-driven advocacy programs as they typically have large remote work forces, and are combating a more educated buyer. Employees can establish themselves as thought leaders and create relationships with their connections and potential prospects. For as long as B2B businesses have been around, word-of-mouth marketing has been one of the biggest means by which companies secure new business. B2B buyers are known to look to peers for business decisions and for solutions for their problems. Thus, social media has become the new word-of-mouth channel for B2B companies. Employee advocates give their personal and direct endorsement for their company, having a valuable impact on the market.
With the emergence of a more educated and savvy buyer the B2B company of the 21st century is being forced to evolve. Sellers must be forward thinking and highly creative when attempting to fuel their pipeline, and many have already seen the impact that social selling and advocacy can have. An overwhelming 78% of salespeople already use social media tactics to sell, and in 2012 it was found that 72% of those using social media outperformed their peers.
Those numbers do not lie, if you are selling B2B and not using social selling and advocacy techniques you are behind the eight ball.