71% of social marketers use employees as influencers or advocates today or want to in the future, according to a new study from Sprout Social. Employee as advocates has always been a fantastic way to build brand recognition, boost word of mouth and instill trust in the business. Unfortunately, many business strategies don’t include employee influencer marketing.
Social marketers in 2018 see the value in employee advocacy as a cost-effective, scalable alternative to influencer marketing. Sadly, only 19% of marketers surveyed said they had a budget for an influencer program.
Influencer marketing – is it worth considering?
Four trends are converging to make influencer marketing an increasingly important part of any B2C or B2B marketing program:
- There is a glut of content being created, and breaking through the noise is more difficult than ever.
- The precipitous decline of organic reach on Facebook (and now Instagram) makes social media promotion of content a trickier proposition.
- Ad blockers make amplification of content through display ads (even hyper-specific remarketing) less appealing.
- Americans trust recommendations from real people significantly more than we trust advertising and promotions from brands, in any guise.
This last point is a major key, as the perceived authenticity of other humans contributes not only to the rise of influencer marketing, but also its cousin – employee advocacy programs.
Does influencer marketing resonate with consumers?
Influencer marketing is a huge focus right now, but what is it actually doing? Does it resonate with audiences in the way social marketers want it to? Let’s go to the study data to find out.
When asked what their reaction would be if a friend posted about a company, product or service on social media, 61% of consumer respondents said they’d be more likely to research that product/service, compared to 36% if a product or service were mentioned by an influencer or celebrity. This shows that the best influencers are those who are perceived as “regular people” with relatable experiences and opinions.
Leverage the influencer marketing power in employee engagement!
Employees are perceived as “people like me” by your customers. Each employee has their own unique expertise and they often bring great ideas to the content creation table. This is golden for social media. The content is richer, more well-rounded and generally met with much more engagement.
Why? Because employees know your customers. They’re on the front lines with them every single day and they speak their language.
Content is more trusted when it’s from employees
While people do like content from brands they follow and will click on social ads, content is more trusted when it comes from individual employees. Makes sense because employees have the insight of their company, are more human, and typically are more trusted than corporate leaders who have a more vested interest.
A Nielsen study showed that 84% of people trust recommendations from friends, family, colleagues over other forms of marketing.
Other eye-opening stats on employee influencer marketing
- Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels (Social Media Today)
- Brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employees vs the same messages shared via official brand social channels (MSLGroup)
- 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company (Weber Shandwick)
- 21% of consumers report “liking” employee posts–a far higher engagement rate than the average social ad (Edelman Trust Barometer)
The above are some that stood out, but there are countless others that show the value employees bring to social media/content marketing.
With that trust and more social shares comes an increase in web traffic, improved lead quality, further reach, and enhanced online reputation.
Employee influencer marketing benefits employees as well.
- It increases their own knowledge
- Keeps them focused on helping customers and prospects
- They’re perceived as thought leaders or authorities on the company’s products/services.
- They’re able to contribute more to the company’s success, even if they are in a completely different department.
Employees are considered most-trusted in communicating the treatment of employees and customers. Employees are trusted more than the CEO, a senior executive, an activist consumer, an academic and a media spokesperson (advertising).
Employee advocacy is the new influencer marketing.
Empowering employees to spread your content on their own social channels is a cost-effective and scalable alternative to influencer marketing. By enabling high-reach employees with high-quality content and messaging, you can achieve the expanded reach and consideration you are looking for.