[Episode Sixteen of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧👇
Does Employee Advocacy Work for B2C?
Organizations all over the world in every sector are driving strategic competitive advantage by scaling the impact of their employees’ voices… and now YOU can too! As we delve beyond the why and get straight to the how so that you can put employee-driven growth at the heart of your organization.
Hosted by employee advocacy practitioner and CEO of DSMN8, Bradley Keenan.
Welcome to this episode of the Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. My name is Bradley Keenan and I am the Founder and CEO of the Employee Advocacy Platform – DSMN8. Today, I want to talk about the considerations that program leaders need to make, if you’re thinking about launching an advocacy program or you already have one, when it comes to which social networks are relevant to your program.
The Social Network Spectrum
So something that we get asked quite frequently if we’re working with a consumer brand is the, well, questions will come up around personal social networks. So what I mean by personal social networks is that we think about social networking as almost a spectrum. On one side of the spectrum, we have highly professional social networks, so the obvious candidate would be LinkedIn, but then also people have specific Twitter and Instagram accounts for business. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Twitter, Snapchat, personal Instagram accounts, and somewhere in the middle you have Facebook because some people will have professional Facebook pages. Some people will really use their Facebook as a way to communicate with their family.
So it can kind of go in two different directions, and what can happen, and this is happening more now because ad spend is being reduced, and people are looking at ways to achieve the same amount of exposure with less cost. So in the B2B world, quite straightforward, your salespeople, your professional community inside your organization have professional connections on LinkedIn. So that’s an obvious one.
But when you start to think about more consumer-focused products. So where I’m talking about consumer products being something that sold to the general public, there’s an attraction to think about utilizing your employee base as a way to connect with potential customers or consumers of your products.
B2B vs B2C Advocacy Programs
But there are considerations that you need to make when you think about this.
Because with B2B, there is a clear value to be the person becoming an advocate. Either they have an invested interested in sales targets, or they want to increase their own personal exposure within an organization and there’s a personal branding component to that. So onboarding people into a B2B Employer Advocacy program, the idea is straightforward, if there’s a clear value proposition for the employee.
When you start to think about consumer products and asking employees to share consumer-related messages to their personal social networks, it does become a little bit trickier.
So we always recommend that people treat gamification, and we’ve covered this in a separate podcast, but we think about gamification as something that you need to treat with care, because you don’t want to create just a transaction between you and the employee – that they are becoming an advertising network for you and you’re paying them, whether that’s in money, which is unlikely, but, you know, Amazon vouchers and what have you.
But with consumer products you almost need to take that as the clear strategy that you’re going to take. If you take yourself out of the equation just for a moment and imagine that you were the person being asked to join an Advocacy Program and let’s say you sold a fashion brand, and you’re going to start sharing those messages with your friends and family. You want to make sure that content is good, you’re going to want to share super stuffy content, but also you’re going to want to make sure that you are being rewarded in some way.
So when you think about the consumer option, I would always encourage people to think about using gamification.
Should Advocacy Be Limited To Just Employees?
Then when you have this process in place, that you’re essentially rewarding people for helping you share your message with potential consumers, you don’t have to limit that to employees.
You can think about an Employee Advocacy program, of course, but the way that you can think about this is be more of just an Advocacy Program. So typical advocates could be yes, they could be your employees, they could be potential existing retailers of your product if you have a retail channel. But if you have a following, your brand has a following, then potentially your customers could become your best advocates, because the core technology that goes into an Employee Advocacy program really is the same as a Consumer Advocacy program.
So we’re looking to give content to people for them to share with their audience. So if you think about this idea of having gamification and a rewards mechanism in place, then why not consider opening that up to people who have purchased products from you, or even people who are maybe in a purchase path at the moment and they’re in research phase? Because if you’re, I call it nerding out on something, but if you’re nerding out on a product that you’re potentially looking at buying, then maybe if you could get a 5% discount for sharing content about that brand, maybe you would do that and that kind of brings me onto my next point.
Because there’s a difference between an Employee Advocacy program when it’s in a B2B world and an Employee Advocacy or that say just an advocacy program for the consumer space.
Keep Things Fresh! New Ideas are Essential for Longevity
There was a good example where Dunkin’ Donuts did a really good Employee Advocacy program with their employees to share on TikTok and it got loads of attention. It was in the press and lots of people were active in that campaign. I don’t think it is as active now as it was when it started. So really what that became was more of a campaign than a program that had longevity.
People did it because it was exciting and maybe there were rewards mechanisms in place, but it kind of slowed down and I think has still seen some activity, but not the level of activity that it was at the time.
So as you think about a consumer advocacy program, you need to add constant reward mechanisms in. But also you need to keep stimulating that program with new ideas, and maybe that’s like with TikTok challenges and things like that to try and get people to reengage with the content.
Ask Yourself THIS Question First!
So as a final point, you can still run an Employee Advocacy program with a B2C brand, but think about it more as a B2B2C program. So if you sell a product through the retail channel, maybe your Employee Advocacy program is more geared towards educating the channel on your product, as opposed to connecting with end users. And the way that you do that is you know, using the standard way that people would run an Employee Advocacy program in that you’re going to focus on professional social networks.
And I guess the final thing to leave you to think about when you are considering this is ask yourself the question: would you share this content to your friends and family?
Because if the answer is no then you won’t convince others to do it.
So there’s going to be considerations in that question. Is the content good? Does it entertain people? Because you probably couldn’t get away with sharing the type of content that get shared in the B2B world with your friends and family. Because people would just be like, what are you sharing with me? Whether that’s a white paper role or what have you. So yes, answer yourself ask yourself that question.
Would I share this content with my Instagram account, with my TikTok, with my Snapchat? If the answer is no, then you do need to go back to the drawing board and rethink it.
So I hope that gave you plenty to think about. As always, please do connect with me on LinkedIn. I’ve had a number of people reach out to me and it’s really helped encourage me to continue to produce more of these podcasts. But also it’s given me lots of ideas to think about to discuss in future podcasts. So do connect with me on LinkedIn. If you can please review this podcast, that does help a lot and I look forward to doing the same time next week.