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A New Marketing Distribution Channel: The Employee

Date published: January 20, 2015
Last updated: January 20, 2015

Companies have begun to discover an untapped content marketing distribution channel they never knew existed: their very own employees. By making it easy for employees to share and distribute company content via their personal social channels, brands are uncovering more organic reach, authentic impressions, and ultimately driving business results that impact their bottom line.

Marketing teams strive to get the right message to the right audience. It doesn't matter how great your product or service is if the people who'd be interested in it don't know about it. That's where your marketing team comes in. They churn out killer content that explains what your company is about, what you provide and – most importantly – how it benefits consumers.

However, even with great content and strong execution of typical marketing activities, it's still difficult to get the desired reach for your content. Employee advocacy is the marketing channel that teams need to amplify the reach of that content and double the effectiveness of their marketing programs.

An employee advocacy program makes it easy for employees to consume and share the content you’ve worked so hard to create. Additionally, it relieves the burden on employees of “doing it wrong” through explaining what’s appropriate and what’s not. Further, you will be able to track who’s involved and reward them accordingly.

Many companies simply send out internal emails that say, “Hey, check out this new article that Joe wrote… forward along the link if you wouldn’t mind,” but there is no way of knowing if that was ever actually done. With an employee advocacy program, content is shared more often with authentic enthusiasm and tracked from start to finish.

Managing Your Employee Advocacy Program

When introducing a new function or technology to your team, it’s a good idea to have someone oversee its implementation. Unfortunately, not every company can hire an employee advocacy manager whose sole responsibility is to manage and monitor an advocacy program. That’s okay, as these types of programs can easily be set up to coexist with prior digital marketing campaigns.

Dynamic Signal, for example, offers software that is an all-in-one platform – an “OS for advocacy.” With an employee advocate system, content is sourced from the web, your owned library or from employee advocates themselves. Mobile and other apps let advocates access and broadcast this content to their networks with little effort. Brands can also track what content is shared and reward top performing advocates.

A typical program can be implemented in as little as a few days and set up with the appropriate amount of automation and scheduling to ensure it doesn’t become overbearing. It takes a little prep work – such as grouping employees, connecting corporate social channels and setting up the proper filters – to ensure that only relevant content is added to the queue. But when complete, the program manager only needs to occasionally review and publish content; the rest of the program essentially runs itself.

IBM – who has the largest employee advocacy program in existence – saw a 5x increase in traffic on their website in 2014. This means that previously existing employees generated a paid media equivalent of $2MM. This new marketing channel not only boosts the effectiveness of your total efforts but drives real, measurable results.

Aligning Advocacy With Your Existing Content & Marketing Programs

The most effective way to introduce an employee advocacy program is to align it with a specifically planned marketing initiative. Let employees know, for example, that advocating will help boost registration for an upcoming event (conference, webinar, product promotion, etc.), then offer them the tools to advocate easily. People respond to deadlines and they are motivated by measurable results. This also lets brands set specific objectives (e.g., event registrations, content shares, leads generated in a campaign, etc.) against which to measure the success of an employee advocacy program.

Of course, not every marketing initiative is appropriate to every employee advocate. For this reason, specific content streams can be created using an employee advocate system to ensure the right employees are receiving the right content to share. Whether it’s geographical (an event in Hong Kong) or by department of interest (marketing, engineering, creative, etc.), these streams do well to limit frivolous posting and reach the people who want to be reached.

The bottom line is that employees who like their job want to talk about their job because they take pride in what they do. As a marketer, finding brand advocates within your team can be as simple as implementing a program and finding employees that want to be industry experts in their field. Being an advocate is an organic way for your employees to generate credibility (through amassing followers in their field) and in turn get noticed by the higher-ups.

If you're struggling to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or get your content seen, employee advocacy is the boost you may need to amplify your marketing efforts.

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