ROI, which is the focal point for any marketing department, has historically been a rough subject when it comes to social media marketing. Luckily, networks, platforms and tools have made major strides over recent years to improve the ability to calculate an accurate return. This return hinges mostly on the sale or conversion - dollars and cents. But what about the return on brand value?
Often times when discussing social strategy, the concept of an employee advocacy program comes into play in order to increase the social reach and overall perception of a brand. However, marketers sometimes fail to recognize the value their social strategy brings to their employees internally. Your employees are your greatest advocates, or at least they should be. But before employees can act on behalf of your brand, you must first perfect your social strategy so an active employee base can multiply these efforts. How can you expect your employees to advocate for your brand in the social arena if your brand can't get it together?
Consider these numbers from a recent report via Altimeter and LinkedIn on Relationship Economics.
These stats alone should be a good case for why a brand's social presence shouldn't be downplayed. It is true that not every social network is appropriate for every brand, but simply having a Facebook page or a Twitter profile doesn't require you to post something every day. Brands need to utilize their channels at their own pace, and more importantly, for the purpose each network optimized for. To start, brands need to focus on how they look and how they're being seen. Employees and prospects are consistently scrutinized for how they represent themselves on social, brands shouldn't get a pass on this. A brand who is, or striving to be, an industry leader, but doesn't have a social voice or well executed social media strategy, looks like an amateur.
If you're goal is to implement an employee advocacy or engagement program, really think about what you're asking your employees to do. You're asking them to speak about how great, professional and forward thinking your brand is to their own networks. Not only that, you're selling them on the opportunity to impact their own personal brand as thought leaders representing your company. When you're asking them to bring the company into focus, what do you want people to see when they look you up? Leads, conversions and site metrics aside, this becomes an HR matter. It becomes a focus on employee morale and, when it is high, what it can bring.
Happy and enthused employees are a priceless resource to any company. From the same Altimeter and LinkedIn study, they found that employees at socially engaged companies are:
Try putting a price on that. Oh wait, Gallup's State of the American Workplace poll did that:
Organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee in 2010-2011 experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared with their competition in 2011-2012. In contrast, those with an average of 2.6 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 2% lower EPS compared with their competition in the same time period.
Your employees are one of your brand's greatest assets. Their morale, spirit and willingness to engage the public on your behalf affects your bottom line as much as any other department. When your brand can clean up, consolidate and focus it's outward social activity, it sets the foundation for employee advocacy and engagement programs to flourish. Ask your employees to advocate for you, but when they do, make sure they're doing it out of pride and not out of pity.