Employee advocacy is the new influencer marketing. Or, so says a new study from Sprout Social.
And, as cliché as it sounds, that statement is true.
Today, businesses of all sizes—from retail giants like Macy’s, to smaller service-based companies like Boostability—are empowering their employees to be brand ambassadors.
And they’re getting incredible results because of it.
Here are four ways employee advocacy is helping these companies succeed, and why you should consider empowering your staff to be brand ambassadors as well.
1. Employee Ambassadors Increase Your Organic Social Reach
The number of people your business can reach organically on social media has plummeted, prompting a slew of headlines like, “Instagram Organic Reach is About to Fall,” and, “Organic Reach on Facebook is Dead.”
But don’t put a nail in the coffin just yet.
While it’s true that organic reach has declined, (thanks to algorithm changes designed to eliminate spammy posts), it’s not true that organic reach is dead.
Especially if you leverage the power of employee advocacy.
Just how powerful is it?
Well, your employees have 10 times more connections on social than your brand alone. So, when you team up with them to share content, your reach grows exponentially.
In fact, studies show that when employees share content, it reaches 561% further than the same content shared through official brand channels. And it’s re-shared 24 times as much.
And that kind of reach has helped Boostability quadruple its social following.
“[When] we were just starting to use social media for brand awareness…we had around 2,500 followers,” says Kelly Shelton, Boostability’s VP of Marketing. “We didn't have a large budget to go out and do a lot of advertising… [But] we did want to get our content in front of more people and expand our audience.”
So, instead of advertising, Boostability implemented an employee ambassador program.
Here’s how it works:
The program is such a hit, that 40% of Boostability’s employees participate. And they’ve made a huge impact.
“Now, we're close to 100,000 social followers,” Shelton says. “All because our employees helped us promote content.”
2. Employee Ambassadors Elevate Your Trust Factor
When it comes to learning about your business, consumers trust your employees more than your c-suite and nearly twice as much as celebrity influencers.
And, why wouldn’t they?
Your employees are your customers’ friends and family. And, as a Nielsen survey says, “the most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know.”
That’s part of why Macy’s has started its new employee ambassador program, Macy’s Style Crew.
One goal for the program is to use Crew members’ local clout to drive foot traffic to its brick and mortar stores. According to Adweek, Macy’s wants customers to get to know their local Style Crew members online, then come into stores to do business with them in person.
And not only does Macy’s hope its employee ambassadors will increase in-store sales, but they’re hoping to increase online sales as well.
By selling directly through the Crew members’ Instagram pages.
Here’s a snapshot of how Macy’s employee ambassador program is working so far:
3. Employee Ambassadors Improve Your Company Culture
Improved culture is an extremely valuable part of Boostability’s advocacy program.
“Another way we measure ROI is how [the program]is helping enhance the employee experience,” says Shelton. “I think it's pretty powerful when you have an employee who's happy and enjoys what they do with you.”
And he’s right, happy employees who are highly engaged with your company are powerful.
A recent Gallup study shows that organizations with highly engaged employees have higher productivity rates, better retention, and even fewer accidents than companies whose employees are not engaged.
And of course, you can’t forget the kind of trickle-down effect happy employees have on your customers.
“The happier employees are, the happier customers are going to be,” says Shelton.
4. Employee Ambassadors Attract New Talent
Employee advocates also become your best recruiters.
Kelly Shelton has seen this happen firsthand.
“A lot of our new employees come from friends who are working here,” he says. “They see their friends’ posts and they want to be a part of [our company].”
And that’s great because employee referrals improve the entire recruiting process:
Holly Hughes-Barnes is a business blogger and brand journalist. She writes blog posts, case studies, and ebooks that build trust, bring in leads, and make more sales for B2B companies. She lives in TN with her husband, son, nearly-blind dog, and totally naked cat. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.