From Rhetoric to Revenue: the Rebirth of Social Media as a B2B Growth Engine
“We’re using social media for brand awareness.”
There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you’re not using social media to drive real revenue to your brand, you’re leaving money on the table.
So, how do you use social media to actually earn revenue for B2B? How do you shift the preconception that all social media is good for is brand recognition?
You bring your employees and colleagues into your core messaging.
Recently, we participated in a fireside chat with Shane Redding, Strategy and Evolution Expert at B2B Marketing during Martechopia.
Represented by Colin Day, Oktopost’s Managing Director EMEA, and Andrew Davies, Marketing Director at Capco, we highlighted some of our biggest insights into getting actionable value from social media, and how to do it for yourself.
Watch the video here:
Transforming Social Media into a B2B Growth Engine through Employee Advocacy
Andrew is no stranger to social media, having made it a huge part of Capco’s marketing strategy, he says, “It’s the best marketing strategy we’ve got.”
Through employee advocacy with Oktopost, Andrew has turned social into an engine for talent acquisition and lead generation. After success dropped with paid ads for the former, he decided to benchmark against employee advocacy efforts. Conversion rate from paid ads came in at 3.14%, while employee advocacy resulted in a 51.71% conversion.
Seeing huge success with employee advocacy in talent acquisition and employer branding, he decided to try it for lead generation. From paid ads, lead generation forms resulted in between 1-2% conversion. From employee advocacy? lead generation forms received between 20-30%.
Why is employee advocacy more effective than other marketing channels?
According to Andrew:
“People don’t want to engage with brands as much as they used to. People want to talk to people. A recommendation comes stronger from a friend or a connection over a brand.”
As B2B brands, we can no longer ignore the power that employee advocacy has to supercharge social marketing efforts. The biggest obstacle we face is getting buy-in from leadership and fellow employees—and the impact from there will speak for itself.
Breaking Barriers of Employee Advocacy: Strategic Rollout, Data Management, and Navigating Privacy
While it’s no secret that employee advocacy can only bring great things for B2B brands, there are still a few obstacles that many brands might face. Some are real obstacles, others are philosophical.
Part of getting buy-in from the entire team is knowing how to answer the tough questions and assure both leadership and employees that the margin for error is low.
Quieting Fears and Uncertainty around Social Media
According to Colin Day:
“We’re all more digitally connected than ever before. We’re all on some form of social media. Maybe, depending on your industry, there are certain things you can’t legally say. Sometimes, there’s a fear from an employee, ‘I don’t know what to say, so I won’t say anything.’
But this is where an employee advocacy platform really comes into play. It’s a safe place.”
According to Andrew, Capco’s culture is “Be yourself at work.” The culture has been owned by the staff, and for them, having an employee advocacy platform like Oktopost is like a safety net.
Unlike when employees are left to their own devices regarding social media, an employee advocacy platforms affords them a safety net. Content is approved by marketing, so employees know that sharing content pre-approved by the marketing team is safe to share.
According to Andrew:
“By having this safety net, people go through this social media maturity. They start sharing posts from the advocacy board and seeing engagement. They’d come up to you with their phones saying ‘Oh look how many likes I’ve got, and impressions.’
They go on that journey – they start embracing social for what it is.”
Colin chimed in as well, explaining that an employee advocacy program wasn’t necessarily always formal, but it was usually always in place. Even if it’s marketing sending out an email asking employees to engage with a particular social post, that’s employee advocacy.
“That’s part of what the Oktopost platform provides – it’s formalizing it. It’s giving a platform to the marketer, HR professional, or sales enablement team to curate and create content. This is a space that employees can come to and take that pre-approved content and share it out to their own personal networks.”
Bringing Authenticity Back to Social Media
According to Colin, being able to modify social posts approved by marketing gives employees the space to make posts in their unique voices.
Social posts that seem like they’re written by some corporate entity always sound bizarre. We use social for human connection, and making it sound more human and authentic is the key to creating posts others want to engage with.
The biggest part of finding success with employee advocacy is remaining authentic above all things. As people don’t want to interact with corporate accounts, they don’t want to interact with personal accounts merely by resharing commercial posts. There needs to be an appropriate mix of different kinds of content for each message to pack the punch it needs to.
Colin continues, explaining that we’ve found a good mix for employee advocacy.
“If it’s all corporate-branded material, you’ll turn your advocates off. They’re not going to want to share.
It’s about a blend, and that blend is:
- 50% thought leadership,
- 25% general interest material
- 25% corporate message
You’ll see better engagement with your advocates.”
Andrew added that he uses a model called the three E’s: Educate, Enlighten, and Entertain.
According to him:
“We say to anyone that wants to post on social media: have an objective and know how to measure it. If you want to improve the metric, try to hit one of the three E’s. If you do that, you’re adding value.
People need to focus on the value and raw relationship. How many things do you get on LinkedIn every day with people trying to sell stuff. It’s not a genuine relationship at all – there’s no upfront effort, no value added to actually engage with that conversation.”
As with any content published on social media, the value-add has to be in place. While social media and content marketers accept this as doctrine from the beginning of our careers, your employees and colleagues who aren’t marketers won’t necessarily know to do this.
This is where educating your advocates comes into play – be sure you’re educating and onboarding them properly with best practices to reach the full potential of employee advocacy.
Measuring Success: How to Use Advocacy Data to its Maximum Potential
Amassing data will only get you so far – it’s then knowing what to do with that data that makes the difference.
The same is true for employee advocacy: your advocacy campaign is only as strong as the insights you glean from it.
Colin reinforces this thought, adding:
“I’m a big believer that it’s not the organization with the most data that will win the game. It’s those who are able to understand it – to interpret and know what to do with it.
With social media, a lot of people put their hand up and say, ‘We use social media for brand awareness.’ Not for putting out the employer value proposition from an HR perspective, not from a social selling perspective. If we think about brand awareness from a data perspective, it’s the number of clicks, likes, shares, and the amount of engagement.
But it’s not the who. The who is the holy grail. If I understand who is engaging with my social posts, I can then take that ‘who’ back into my MarTech stack, into the Sales tech stack, and I can connect the ecosystem. I can start to influence the customer experience and the customer journey.”
In today’s industry, it’s not about whether it’s easier because we have more tools that measure our efforts – it’s more about whether we can use those tools to their full potential. Above all, it’s about being able to extrapolate learnings from that data, and using those learnings to impact the customer.
Andrew then expanded on how this is done practically for Capco. He explains that his different systems, CRM, Oktopost, and site metrics, all integrate and communicate between each other. When advocates share posts, the engagement data is fed back into their CRM, giving them deeper insights into the individual who engages.
“We can see that X person from X bank is engaging with X post. It also tells us who’s social media feed they’ve clicked it from. You can become incredibly tactical by just having all that data and understanding who’s got the power. It’s honestly not the corporate brand anymore, it’s not the corporate accounts – it’s the advocates.”
Measuring and analyzing those insights is only the first step. The next is applying it in such a way that you can improve the customer journey and experience. This is how you make the data you gather truly worth something.
Privacy Concerns: GDPR, Privacy Legislation, and Data Management
Of course, any conversation around data will also lend itself to privacy. A central topic for many marketers regardless of their industry, privacy concerns have been at the forefront of user concerns, and in many places, legal ones as well.
Over the past year, various legislative branches and even private companies have made significant impacts on marketing data in an effort to rightfully protect user information. Third-party cookies have been rendered useless, and with the EU’s GDPR in effect since 2018, marketers have had to be radically transparent about what data they collect and how it’ll be used.
When confronted with the questions of privacy concerns, Colin stated:
“From a GDPR perspective, if you think about the social engagement side of things, let’s say I’m putting content out on my personal LinkedIn account. It’s just like a conversation. Do I need consent to sit here and talk to Andrew? Yes, because Andrew has decided to engage with me. It’s the same with social. From a GDPR perspective, it’s a conversation.”
This is largely why many people will continue scrolling past overtly marketing or sales material. Social media is about starting a real conversation with your audience – if there’s nothing that provokes that conversation, there’s no reason to engage.
This is where the value-add that Andrew mentioned factors in. When you add real value to your customers, they’re more likely to engage and share your content. Think about your last few social posts – would you engage with you?
There’s nothing wrong with using social media for brand awareness – au contraire. However, if you’re not exploring other ways in which social can impact your bottom line, you’re leaving a powerful revenue generation machine on the table.
- Employee advocacy isn’t just for employer branding, but also a phenomenal lead-generation tool that’s made more powerful with your employees.
- Employee advocacy platforms often give employees a safety net of content they can publish in sensitive industries.
- Encouraging employees’ unique voices and educating them on how to use social media to their advantage will create in turn better advocates.
- Focusing on adding value will spark real conversations that can strengthen relationships and create opportunities.
Huge thanks to Shane Redding and Martechopia for this great opportunity.
Are you ready to turn social media into a powerhouse marketing channel? See how employee advocacy can boost your sales with an Oktopost demo today!