If you are a company executive or manager working to expand your customer base and improve your reputation and image, employees are among your most valuable allies.
Indeed, the ways that your employees interact with customers and prospective customers within your industry play a huge role in shaping how your company is perceived and valued.
That means you must be prepared for your employees to not only engage with your customer base on social media, but also to become respected employee advocates and thought leaders on social media.
These employee advocates become the type of industry leaders your customers will turn to for information and advice. After all, people trust recommendations and information from colleagues, friends, and family over other forms of media (like advertising, even executive stakeholders).
Thought leadership and employee advocacy involves cultivating in-house, subject-matter experts among your employees who can write columns, articles, reviews, op-eds, blogs and other forms of interactive, multimedia content.
This content must be compelling, relate to your company either directly or indirectly, and fulfill your customers’ curiosity and interests.
Here are the top reasons you should embrace and actively encourage your employees to become social media thought leaders and brand advocates.
Thought leaders are brand ambassadors:
Every thought leader whom your business cultivates becomes a highly visible, respected brand ambassador – and every company could use more brand ambassadors! Just look at how Adobe views their brand ambassador role and the results their brand sees.
Thought Leaders grow professional networks:
Your internal thought leaders build up a personal following over time on social media using their own personality, voice, life experiences and storytelling style.
The people who follow thought leaders on social media aren’t necessarily even following your business; rather, some of this audience interfaces with your company solely through a single employee and the interesting, informative content they produce.
Don’t give up this audience to your competition.
And, when your company has a few hundred to a few thousand employees advocating online, their social network reach can reach six-figures to million+ in additional reach! Many times, that reach is far greater than a company’s social media profile reach combined.
Thought leaders indirectly drive sales and profitability:
At EveryoneSocial, the team examined how a business’s bottom line is impacted by employees who advocate for their employer on their personal social media accounts and share company content.
The study found that if a company turns 1,000+ employees into social media advocates, the additional visibility generated by this employee advocacy can translate to as much as a 19% revenue increase, 48% larger deals, and improved win rates.
Organizing content and having employees share is a key boost to sales enablement, helping your company drive more organic sales results.
That’s an entirely new profit margin from the employees you already have! And remember, employees who become thought leaders can do even more for your brand – they come armed with their own personal, loyal social media followings that can help recruit top talent, improve your employer brand, and naturally improve marketing results.
Thought leadership improves internal company culture:
When thought leaders share their knowledge and perspectives with the outside world, the respect and loyal following they gain will permeate into the company culture.
Employees will feel a greater sense of pride and loyalty to the organization they represent.
They will learn to instinctively trust their thought-leader colleagues more, and that trust will gradually extend to all colleagues. Employees also will feel that the company is receptive to and supportive of sharing knowledge and information, as opposed to being secretive and paranoid.
Thought leaders also will set a corporate tone that promotes personal empowerment, where anyone can feel confident building upon a peer’s ideas to create connections and understanding they wouldn’t have reached on their own.
And of course, the employees will feel excited to come to work every day, knowing the company they’re helping to build up is admired and appreciated by a loyal audience on social media.
When companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35%, the time employees spend searching for company information. (McKinsey)
Thought leadership cultivates leadership talent:
Thought leadership is, by definition, a ramping-up of the leadership skills and knowledge base of talented employees who go the extra mile to prove their worth. And that is, by definition, professional development and growth of the most coveted kind.
Indeed, if your business wants to train the next generation of corporate leaders from within, it’s essential you promote thought leadership and perhaps even make it a benchmark of professional growth.
If thought leadership still sounds like an unattainable concept to you, then consider this advice from John Hall, CEO of Influence & Co:
“Your team is made up of individuals who, collectively, create an ecosystem of interconnected ideas, perspective, and insight,” Hall writes in an older piece for Forbes. “Leverage that ecosystem, and you’ll be running a company full of thought leaders.”
Thought leadership is a key component of building a successful business and using it to perpetually strengthen that business. While you might even cringe a bit at the terminology, the entire concept behind it is incredibly power for your brand.
If you still need more convincing, some of these employee advocacy examples will show you what other well-known brands are accomplishing with their employee advocates.