Much like influencer marketing, employee advocacy enables businesses to utilize the power of people and their influential capacity, as opposed to relying on ads, which are increasingly being ignored as users refine their social streams. Previous research has shown that content shared by employees sees 8x more engagement, on average, than content shared through branded channels, while 61% of consumers say that they’re more likely to research a product or service after seeing a friend’s social media post about it, compared to 36% if the same were mentioned by an influencer or celebrity.
In that sense, employee advocacy may be even more effective than influencer marketing. Is your business tapping into that opportunity?
To get a better understanding of the current employee advocacy landscape, and provide a comparative measure of how brands are utilizing the option, we recently partnered with GaggleAMP to conduct a survey among the Social Media Today community. Over 400 marketers responded, giving us an indicative pool to highlight the current trends and future opportunities of the process – you can download the full report here, but this week, we're going to break down the specific elements and findings to give you an overview of the responses we received.
Part 1: The Current State of Employee Advocacy
For the first part of our report, we wanted to get a handle on exactly how brands are utilizing employee advocacy, and how many businesses are tapping into the option. Given the aforementioned stats, you’d think it would be a key focus, but the responses did not indicate that exactly.
As you can see here, only 31% of respondents actually have an employee advocacy program in place, with another 29% planning to implement one in future. That means close to 40% of businesses don’t have an EA program in effect, nor any plans to implement one, which is a huge amount of missed opportunity.
Of course, implementing an EA program takes resources and effort, two things most businesses don’t have in abundance at any given time - but again, as highlighted by various research reports, the pay-off can be significant. If you can get it right.
But getting it right does seem like a bit of a sticking point at present, particularly given the relative immaturity of employee advocacy as a process. Indeed, in the second element of our survey, we asked respondents how long they’ve been developing their EA process.
More than 60% of respondents indicated that they’re still implementing a full strategy, with 17% just starting out.
Given this, it also makes sense that a lot of businesses aren’t willing to go all-out in their investment in the process, as there are few solid examples of effective strategy. Those that can get it right, as indicated by the research, can see major benefit, but with limited adoption, the case for significant investment may not be enough, at this stage, to get most business across the line.
That means that, at this stage, it may take more brands implementing their own approach in order to solidify ROI considerations and comparisons.
As noted, this is the first element of our 2019 Employee Advocacy report, which you can download here. We'll be covering additional aspects of our findings throughout this week.
The 2019 Social Media Today Employee Advocacy Survey was conducted between July and August 2019, incorporating responses from 402 total participants. Of those respondents, 54% indicated that they work for a B2B organization, while 29% indicated that they work for a B2C brand.