Your company has a lot of assets that help it in the marketplace - everything from the popularity of your brand to carefully-crafted ad campaigns keep your products in the minds of your potential clients. There's still one secret resource available to you - one that could amplify your market presence, boost sales, and increase positive perceptions of your brand and products. Best of all, you're already paying for it. Before you go scouring your janitorial closet looking for this unexpected miracle, look behind the desks in your office first: it's your employees.
Wait, Aren't They Already Working for Me?
Your staff works hard to make your business the best, so you may think that they're already providing you with all the value they can. Strictly speaking, however, one of the most powerful things they can do is to speak in their own voice, rather than that of the company. Social media advocacy is the practice of encouraging your employees to talk about, photograph, comment, and share certain information about your business on their own social media channels. Beyond a simple employment listing on LinkedIn, the off-the-cuff and genuine opinions of your employees on their own social media accounts holds incredible possibilities for sharing and engagement.
How Can I Leverage Their Voices?
The key to making social media advocacy work for you is to step back and see what your employees create on their own. Start them off with a solid social media policy - what they can and can't take photos of, what's off-limits for discussion, what language should be avoided, etc - and let their ideas grow from there. You might be surprised to see what they consider interesting about their work environment, or why they like working for your company. Don't make these opinions mandatory at any point - that becomes the line between an enthusiastic organic social media advocate and an employee that's concerned about their job if they say no.
Think of employee advocacy on social media as a side dish to the main entree of your B2B marketing content. You can save and share their opinions through your official social media accounts, and with their permission, use their photos and interactions as a thread woven into your overall marketing campaign. Employees' contributions lend authenticity to your message and intent, but they can't run the show on their own - your company will need the support and visibility of a traditional campaign as well.
I'm Intrigued, But Nervous.
There's a lot of freedom for your employees when they're using their own social media accounts. Some companies worry that letting out the reins a little in terms of social media permissions can lead to scandals. It's not an unfounded concern these days, when wayward tweets and accidental postings routinely make headlines a headache for companies. If you'd rather ease into these creative waters, consider handing over your company social media accounts to a specific employee or department for the week. These "takeovers" can help shake things up and add a new perspective to your messages while still keeping the content within editing reach of your management team.
You might also build a branded hashtag into your social media policy - the technique of choice for grouping together themed posts - in order to keep track of when and where employee/company content is posted, shared, and discussed. This will help you decide which of your employees might be an influencer in the making, and like site metrics, will show you where a repeat "account takeover" might be a good idea for the future.
With more than 3 billion people logging into social media accounts every day, ignoring the power your employees have to network would be an expensive mistake. Your B2B marketing may be focused on traveling a professional path, but personal connections and employee advocacy might be the tool to carve out roads along the way.