Does supermarket advertising lack ambition? Sonoo Singh certainly thinks so. In an article published on campaignlive.co.uk, she explores how British supermarkets are using advertising and what that says about their core marketing strategy. “All supermarkets have allowed their brand strategies to become led by messages focusing on price and competition,” she argues. “Where is the creative spark that will allow supermarkets to rekindle their connection with the great British public?”
What if the secret to that creative spark were employee advocacy?
Amelia Torode is chief strategy officer at TBWA\London, which looks after Lidl UK’s marketing. She is quoted in the article as saying that an upcoming campaign will “talk loud” about its brand values. This is what all supermarkets should do: focus on their brand values and put their people at the forefront of marketing strategy.
Power to the People: How Supermarkets Can Benefit from Employee Advocacy
Sonoo Singh is right to point out that “supermarkets need to ask themselves tougher questions about what kind of value they want to offer – for instance, resolving a social issue such as obesity through health initiatives”. Many are, of course, already involved in community-oriented activities; examples include the Sainsbury’s campaign that challenged shoppers to feed their family for just five pounds, the Tesco “Computers for schools” initiative, and Morrisons’ “Let’s grow” program encouraging schoolchildren to learn more about how food is grown.
But are supermarkets spreading the message about such initiatives in the most effective way? The answer, in most cases, is no. Sure, they write blog articles, share photos, publish videos and even run competitions – and all this often generates a high level engagement. But given the level of competition, this is no longer enough. By launching an employee advocacy program, supermarkets would generate additional reach and engagement by encouraging all employees to share brand stories with their own social media connections. Imagine how far the word could spread if these posts were shared by all company employees?
That said, content amplification is just one aspect of employee advocacy…
Put the Spotlight on Employee Storytelling
“In a market that can appear oversupplied and undifferentiated,” writes Sonoo Singh, “the survivors will be those that offer something truly distinctive”. Indeed, the advantage will go to those that succeed at humanizing their brand; by focusing on the people who make the company tick, and putting the spotlight on their stories. This is where employee advocacy really comes to the fore. It’s also why, on July 21st, we’re hosting a webinar on how employee advocacy will sink or save your social business.
Unleash the Potential of User-Generated Content
Employee advocacy doesn’t just enable companies to centralize, streamline and amplify brand social media content. It also opens the door for individuals to submit their own content. On Sociabble, for example, employees can submit written testimonials, articles found on the web, photos and ideas. This content is moderated by administrators, who decide whether it can be published on the platform and, if so, whether it is defined as internal content, or made available for all users to share. Employees win points for all sharing and content creation activity, while administrators can run campaigns and challenges to drive user engagement.
For supermarkets and other retail brands, this opens up a wealth of brand storytelling opportunities. Take Morrisons’ “Let’s grow” program as an example – Sociabble admins could invite regional managers to write retrospective testimonials, with the best ones being made available to share externally. What about Sainsbury’s involvement with the Comic Relief and Sport Relief fundraising? On Sociabble, dedicated channels could be created, where all employees could submit their own photos and insights throughout the initiative. Sociabble can also be used as an innovation and collaboration hub; when looking for their next big adventure, supermarkets could invite all employees to submit and discuss ideas on the platform.
Sonoo Singh argues that “supermarkets urgently need differentiation and a strong voice in their marketing”. As far as we’re concerned this “voice” needs to be that of their people. And this goes for all brands, not just supermarkets. Want to find out more about launching an employee advocacy program at your company? Interested in how other retail brands have done so already? Contact us, or check out these great case studies.