“If you can dream it, you can do it.” — Walt Disney
It’s 2018 and the conversation around employee advocacy and social selling are still dominating the conversation in organizations. Why? Because we know it’s important, but the struggle to show the value and impact is still an obstacle. You need a digital culture, buy-in from leadership, a training program for your employees, employees to feel valued to where they want to promote company content without being asked, show success and consistency, just to name a few.
But before I dive into these topics more, I want to share the event that made me want to write this post…
Now, you may be thinking, “Okay, so what?” Well, I manage a social selling program and my fellow (red pants award-winning) coworker worried me, to say the least! But in the end, we both agreed that employee advocacy and social selling are related, but are not the same:
Employee Advocacy… Advocates don’t just talk, they act.
In a nutshell, employee advocacy (in the social world) is about creating a digital culture internally where employees talk about their organization in a positive way without incentive. They share because they believe in the brand, what it stands for and are proud to work there. So, why is it important? It’s important because it strengthens trust in your brands’ reputation. It helps humanize and create a genuine representation of the brand. It helps your audience connect to something more than just an offering; they are connecting with human experiences. Remember, one person’s experience can become another person’s inspiration.
We all talk about the importance of the customer experience and loyalty, but you can’t create that reality with your customers if your employees don’t feel loyal to the brand. You have to start internally for your efforts to reach externally. Start by finding the employees that already talk about your brand naturally without incentive and turn them into your advocate leaders.
Social Selling… Build relationships first, sell last.
The term social selling can get a negative connotation because you immediately think that someone is trying to sell you something on social. That’s the wrong mindset. As Erik Qualman pointed out in his interview with Jeff Shore, social selling is social building, as in building relationships on social. Not to sell you something, but to add value to your social media experience, whether with a personal antidote or a blog post that helps further the knowledge of the person you’re engaging with.
As social media evolves and technology advances, getting someone to answer a phone call or an email becomes harder and harder. A statistic that stood out to me the most in Erik’s interview is that 53% of Millennials would rather lose their sense of smell than their smartphones. It’s a wake-up call for anyone in sales (if they haven’t realized it already). This generation of customers isn’t going to be reached by traditional methods – As a Millennial, I agree that social media will catch my attention first because I always have my phone. I don’t answer numbers I don’t know, but I do look at emails.
You need to be where your customers and future customers are, and if that’s social, then you need to be there. And the great thing is that a huge chunk of the world’s population is on social for many reasons: sharing success, pain, knowledge or to ask for help/advice. It’s the best place to be to understand the needs and wants of a customer without having to ask them and get to know them personally if you pay attention.
For example, I use a lot of gifs (specifically Disney) and emojis. I share a lot of articles about leadership, social listening, marketing, social selling, and Spredfast. In those few notes, you already know the kind of content that stands out to me, what kinds of posts I’d respond to, and you know anything Disney would get my attention. There’s more, but that’s a step in the right direction of getting to know your customer or future buyer.
This is an amazing time to be in social and I love that my job allows me to get deep into the weeds of it. Both social selling and employee advocacy are important, so please share any other notes or advice that you have on either topic in the comments – Even if it’s a book or article you think would be beneficial to check out to grow my knowledge!
“Be Flawsome – People don’t love us because we’re perfect, they love us because we care.” — Erik Qualman