Technology has transformed the way we share and consume information in our everyday lives. So it’s no surprise that we’ve developed new expectations for sharing and consuming content at work. As we head into the new year, we’re confident that conversations around employee communication and engagement will continue to be pressing topics at the executive table. The companies who are doing it well will continue to see the business benefits across the board.
Getting it right.
SAP built a strong internal culture of highly collaborative employees who were eager to share their experiences about working at a great software company. All they needed was an avenue to share those success stories.
So, when the company provided them with an employee communication and engagement platform created by Dynamic Signal, the workforce took it from there. Employees quickly shared content produced by SAP more than 200,000 times. The number of employees in that pilot program quickly doubled in size, and it’s now being expanded globally. (Woo-hoo!)
SAP showed how companies can empower their most passionate advocates – their employees – to spread the word about their work on social media. A new report from Gartner, “Mobilize Your Workforce to Enhance Social Marketing Through Employee Advocacy,” highlights this exciting example of employee advocacy done well. It explores the increasing popularity of these programs and why greater employee engagement has a multitude of benefits to your employees and your organization.
Today’s consumers expect authenticity from the business and brands with with they engage. Employee advocacy programs are a fantastic way to share organic, authentic content from the people who know your services and products best- because they’re the ones making your services and product the best!
It starts from the inside.
Good things happen when employees feel connected to their place of work. They’re more aligned with the company mission, and understand strategic goals and how they can best fulfill their own potential.
Not surprisingly, they also are more likely to speak positively about the company because they’re proud of their work and feel empowered to tell their stories.
With the help of Dynamic Signal research, as well as other industry findings, Gartner collected some of the top quantitative data that shows the growing role of employee advocacy programs. A Gartner survey found that 37 percent of marketers say they currently have one, while another 46 percent are either piloting one or have plans to do so.
The benefits of anointing employees as brand advocates draw on solid evidence. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of consumers trust product or service recommendations from people they know. Since half of the employees already are sharing opinions about their employers on social media, companies should be mobilizing them into a social media force through a formal program, Gartner added.
The report made three key recommendations for marketing leaders:
- Focus on employee adoption before introducing social sharing
- Ensure employees can properly engage their social networks with a training and compliance plan
- Curate a diverse, organized stream of content for employees that will be relevant to their peer and customer networks
There were other great takeaways from the wide-ranging report.
1. Make Employee Advocacy an Organizational Priority.
Although often controlled by marketers, employee advocacy transcends all organizational boundaries. Motivating and engaging employees is the domain of every department, and that means all executives must play a role. Social marketing may be the ultimate goal. But an employee advocacy program can play a role in overcoming an array of businesses challenges by better connecting employees to the company.
2. Peer Recommendations Are Still Winning.
It’s just common sense. People trust their friends and family over strangers. And they trust people more than brands. Employees play a unique role in their ability to advocate for a company as an individual person and not a huge brand intruding on someone’s social media space. Getting employees to become advocates, and then properly training them on approved company messaging, can be critical to expanding your company’s reach and reputation.
3. Content Consumption Can Be a Great Indicator of Employee Engagement.
If you’re just launching a program and are looking for ways to engage employees, start small. Use “content consumption” metrics to see what’s resonating with employees before allowing them to share externally on their own social media networks. This way you can learn what’s relevant to them. It also exposes employees to the type of content that they later will be able to share with the world.
4. Employees Still Don’t Understand What Their Companies Do.
It’s sad, but true. Only 42 percent of employees said they “know enough to explain to others what my employer does,” according to a study by Weber Shandwick. They’re also not getting much help in the education process. Just 25 percent said their employer does a good job of keeping them informed. Clearly, companies must find a way to deliver information in an engaging way that employees understand. It’s one thing create knowledgeable content that explains the company mission, vision, and goals. But it does no good if employees don’t see it. Remember, you can’t have impact without reach!
If you’re interested in learning more about how strong employee communication and engagement impacts employee advocacy, you can read more about the Gartner report here.