Social media advocacy can make a huge difference in business. But how best to ensure the program is a success? That’s a question many sales professionals ask, especially when it comes to scaling up a program companywide. But there are specific keys to creating a successful Employee Advocacy or Social Selling program on a bigger scale. In this article, we’ll explain how.
Social Selling and Employee Advocacy are two techniques that put the full persuasive power of social media into the hands of employees themselves, to create potential sales leads and help them serve as ambassadors of the company. The benefits are undeniable, and many companies have already seen their sales figures improve drastically as a result. Scaling up a Social Selling program to be truly impactful, however, can come with complications. How to train the team? How to get everyone on board? How to ensure consistency in results? All of these questions can crop up, but luckily, there are answers. In this article, you will learn:
1. Why you should launch a SS or EA program
2. What’s the difference between SS and EA
3. The keys to a successful program
4. The right KPIs
5. Mistakes to avoid
6. How Sociabble can help
Why launch a Social Selling or Employee Advocacy Program?
It’s a good question, with a fairly straightforward answer: because if done correctly, it will help boost your company’s sales, while generating positive brand awareness in the process. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 75% of B2B buyers use social media networks to help make purchasing decisions. And the current realities of business dynamics are also a consideration. 90% of businesses have adopted a digital sales model because of Covid-19-related restrictions. Quite simply, this is the direction that sales are going, and companies that don’t develop digital sales plans that capitalize on social media risk being left behind and losing potential business.
What is the difference between Social Selling and Employee Advocacy?
Social Selling and Employee Advocacy are closely related, and can work hand in hand to promote sales and awareness. But they are not the same thing. Understanding the basic differences is crucial to mastering both. For example:
Social Selling is when a sales department, business developer, or account executive utilizes their online network to generate prospects, create leads, and ultimately, make sales. The KPI’s for Social Selling include:
• Creation of new points of contact
• Creation of relevant content
• Lead generation
• Lead conversion
• Acceleration of sales cycle
Employee Advocacy, on the other hand, can apply to general employees, workers in the field, operations specialists, R&D, accounting—almost anyone at the company, really. And while it relies on social networks, it’s less about trying to generate leads and sales than it is about promoting company information and perception online. The KPI’s for Employee Advocacy include:
• Generation of traffic to company website
• Conversation stimulation about company online
• Creation of individual online presence as a representative of the company
Naturally, there is some overlap. Both Social Selling and Employee Advocacy involve positioning the employee as an expert in their field, generating engagement with the network, and promoting the company online to increase traffic. The skills needed do translate from one to the other.
The Keys to a Successful Employee Advocacy Program or Social Selling Initiative
Launching or growing a large-scale SS or EA program isn’t always the easiest project to undertake—and many companies are intimidated by the prospect. They don’t know how to get everyone involved, or how to generate the online engagement that fuels the program. But there are key actions you can take to help ensure that your SS or EA program launches effectively and continues to thrive as it scales to suit a larger audience. Here are the most important:
Strong Governance that Includes Top Management
Make sure you have a designated team to manage the roll-out and continued success of the program. And be sure to get top management involved—not only will this help with buy-in for the initiative, but they will lead by example. Executives and company leaders need to be generating content, commenting on the content of others, and sharing important industry news.
A Platform with Global and Local Controls
Having a centralized Social Selling & Employee Advocacy platform can make all the difference in the world. A central hub where content can be gathered and shared, dispersed across social networks with just a few clicks. But it’s important to give some degree of control to local managers as well, with local or regional company pages. Some global content will be relevant, but not all. And they need the ability to create and share content at the local level, without clogging up the works in regions where it is not relevant at all.
Content that Creates a Sense of Authenticity
Content is king. It’s what drives your program. But it has to be both relevant and authentic in order to drive engagement. In short, it has to be both useful and feel real. This means that fresh content needs to be attractive, varied, and segmented by audience.
For Social Selling, content should include personal branding content that builds the employee’s reputation as an expert in the field, as well as industry-targeted content to connect with potential leads, all of which should be adapted to the maturity level of the prospect, to help them during their decision-making process—case studies, webinars, testimonials, anything that can help.
For Employee Advocacy, you want to focus on content that boosts the perception of the actual company. This means professional-looking, ready-to-use elements that employees are proud to share, including in their local languages. Having a media library of images and videos that are ready to share will make a huge difference when it comes to employees creating and sharing content.
Content creation by real employees is what creates authenticity. Sociabble has features that empower employees to create their own content on LinkedIn and other platforms.
Automation of Program Management
Winning programs that work on a large scale are usually those that have automatic features built in to boost engagement and offer incentives. To begin with, have clear and motivating objectives with metrics and KPIs explained—give employees tangible goals, like “gain 10 new followers a week” or “share 1 piece of content per day.” Find a platform that includes a leaderboard and statistics, so that performance can be monitored and adjusted where necessary. And lastly, make it fun for employees to be involved—this can mean an automated rewards system, built into your platform, that uses gamification and badges to reward employees for a job well done. CSR features, like our own Sociabble Trees, can get employees engaged and help the planet, both at the same time.
Define the Right KPIs for a Successful Social Selling Program
When it comes to creating a social media advocacy program at scale, knowing what KPIs to use and measure will play a big role in determining your level of success. Without solid metrics and goals, there will be no way to know if the efforts are working, and thus more difficult to get buy-in and resources from top management. But what KPIs should you be measuring?
Examples of Social Selling KPIs:
Growing network: X additional LinkedIn connections/month/seller
Business opportunities: X leads/month
Strengthening relationship with existing prospects or clients: X points of contact on social media/month
Generating traffic to website: X visits/month
Examples of Employee Advocacy KPIs:
Generating online visibility: X shares/month, X reach/post
Managing local pages effectively: X shares/month, X shares/week
Generating traffic to website: X visits/month
Impact of marketing campaign: # monitoring
New hires: X candidates for HR
With Sociabble, you can keep track of KPIs and performance data easily thanks to its full analytics package.
Mistakes to Avoid and Things to Watch out For
Despite good intentions, even despite legitimate effort, many companies seeking to scale up a successful Social Selling Program or impactful Employee Advocacy initiative run into the same hurdles. But if you know what to watch out for, and what common errors are prone to being made, you can avoid them altogether. Here are some of the most common mistakes that appear while trying to get a large-scale initiative off the ground:
Objectives are not clearly defined. Employees don’t have a concrete idea of what numbers they should be aiming for, how they will be rewarded, or what the long-term benefits are.
Sales teams don’t have the right reflexes. To know how to respond on social media, training and support are crucial. Coaching sessions from professionals can help this immensely.
Importance of good content is underestimated. Without high-quality content that’s relevant and engaging, your program simply will not work. You need people dedicated to making fresh content on a regular basis.
Lack of commitment from employees. Interactive onboarding programs with quizzes and videos will help with adoption of your platform or tool, and the addition of mechanics centered around engagement and motivation (think rewards, gamification) can keep them involved.
Lack of commitment from executives. For your program to work, management teams must set an example. And if time is an issue, delegate the content creation and posting to a comms team to keep things running smoothly.
Sociabble is a Platform that Can Help You Build a Successful Social Selling Program
If you’re looking for a platform that can serve as a central hub for the creation and sharing of content, complete with analytics and built-in gamification and rewards, Sociabble can help. We’ve already partnered with hundreds of companies in over 80 countries around the world, including industry leaders like Infosys, Generali, and Coca-Cola European Partners, to name a few. We’re always happy to chat about Social Selling and Employee Advocacy, as well share tips on social media advocacy in general, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
If you’d like to learn more, click here for a free demo.