Social media advocacy is one of the smartest marketing strategies for a companies to adopt. With content shared by employees garnering 8 times more engagement than content shared through official corporate outlets, companies that use social advocacy simply have the edge over their competitors in building brand awareness and trust.
But, as in all things marketing, social advocacy effectiveness must be tested. By looking at a few KPIs, you can take stock of how well your advocacy program is performing—and ultimately, how much your company stands to gain in terms of ROI.
Here are some of the most important metrics for gauging the social advocacy effectiveness.
Engagement of Employee Advocates
The success of an employee advocacy program depends on the employees. It’s essential to determine who the most engaged and socially-active employees are, as they’re likely to be the most effective brand ambassadors.
From the outset, you might segment employees based on job title and department, which will help differentiate content to provide for social sharing. But you can go a little further and segment them on expected performance:
- Run a time-limited pilot advocacy program. A pilot program allows the most enthusiastic brand advocates to emerge, letting you see important predictive trends. For example, you might find that employees of one particular department or those who share a particular job title make for the most eager advocates.
- Learn employee social media habits. Employees who already love social media will find it less of a challenge to be social advocates. Just like a sports team confers different roles to players, you should identify the most socially-savvy “team members” in your company as those most likely to hit the ground running. For example, “digital natives,” A.K.A. millennials, are far more likely than other cohorts to be comfortable interacting on social networks.
- Survey your employees. Engaged employees are responsible for 80% of customer satisfaction, so insights on employee engagement are very important. Ask employees specific questions related to brand messaging, such as:
- How much they understand and share the company’s values
- What they like about the company
- Why they would or wouldn’t recommend the brand to their peers
By considering which employees are likely to be strong advocates from the start, you can segment the workforce into “less advocacy-ready” and “more advocacy-ready” groups. Then, once the advocacy program is in full swing, you can further segment groups by activity levels. Such segments will be very useful for tracking other metrics later.
Once your employees start to make new inroads by sharing brand messages with peers, your brand reach will slowly increase, and with it your company’s market presence. If an employee Tweets a link to your corporate blog to someone who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it, that’s advocacy in action. Consider how many additional eyes will now see your content!
Optimize brand reach by giving employees unique, stand-out content to share within their networks. Then, measure brand reach via advocacy by several means:
- Survey current customers on how they became aware of your brand
- Use Google Alerts to see how much your company and products are being talked about on blogs and news outlets (this is especially insightful if some employees are personally connected to industry bloggers and thought leaders)
- Use a social media listening platform to get real-time insights on social brand mentions
Once employees are sharing intriguing and helpful content, your brand name has an increasing chance to become an industry standard of quality and service.
Social media engagement can be the cornerstone of successful advocacy. If prospective buyers are leaving comments, asking questions and demonstrating buying intent in social interactions with employees, you’ll know that your advocacy program is primed to help your company’s bottom line.
To track this metric, consider the number of comments and new conversations prompted by employees’ social media content. In addition, track the most engaging kinds of posts. You might find that short videos or SlideShare presentations get more comments from likely leads than the average status update. Then, provide your employees more of the same to share.
You might also want to integrate your marketing automation platform with your social media marketing platform for a more complete picture of advocacy effectiveness vs. other marketing strategies. Over time, you can track how well employee-engaged leads convert as opposed to those engaged by typical company marketing outlets.
As your brand garners engagement from employee activity, it’s worthwhile to understand how leads feel about your brand. With 52% of consumers trusting a company’s employees as sources of brand information, it shouldn’t be hard to drive up positive sentiment via advocacy, as long as it’s done right.
First, make sure your employees are trained on making strong personal connections with their audience. Teach employees the right tone to use online, and make sure there’s plenty of relevant content in your social advocacy board for them to share with interested prospects. When leads see that company personnel of all levels are enthusiastic to help them, it’s simply easier for them to like and trust your brand.
Then, you’ll have to measure sentiment in some way. After your advocacy program has been running for some time, you might consider surveying current customers, looking at your Net Promoter Score (NPS), and optimizing it by refining the sales funnel and customer service. You can also conduct sentiment analysis to understand what words qualified leads and converted customers use across touchpoints with your brand and particularly within employee-led interactions.
Finally, conversions are the ultimate determinant of your advocacy’s sales-driving power. The number of conversions via advocacy, measured against conversions achieved through non-advocacy means, gives you the “big picture” of the program’s effectiveness and makes it much easier to prove ROI.
By having specific conversion points in mind, you can track which employee marketing actions are best helping to achieve them. For example, an employee’s Tweet linking to your latest whitepaper might produce a spike in downloads or an employee’s LinkedIn message about an upcoming webinar might lead to more registrations.
If you find your advocacy reliably drives metrics such as engagement and sentiment, but isn’t producing enough conversions, there are a few courses of action to take:
- Revisit your lead-nurturing content strategy. Ask a few questions about how well employee-shared content matches with its intended targets. Is your content truly targeted to the kinds of leads employees encounter on social?
- Make sure employee advocate segments are well-matched with content. Look at the segments you defined in the beginning and determine whether the content is truly congruent with employees’ company roles. For example, it’s probably not ideal for someone in HR to share technical details about your company’s products.
- Define best-performing segments periodically. See which groups produce the most conversions. You might find, for example, that employees with certain personal “styles” of interaction, or certain levels of social activity, turn in more conversions than others.
Digging a little deeper into conversions from advocacy can give you great clarity on the program’s overall success and how to prune it for even better performance. Defining specific types of conversions can also help you prove advocacy ROI more powerfully.
While social advocacy holds great promise for just about any B2B company, such programs need to be closely monitored for success. By keeping a close eye on some key metrics for gauging effectiveness and working to optimize them, employee advocates can become one of the biggest sources of sustained company growth.