Remember the days when you could write a blog post, share it on social media, and voilà—people instantly clicked it? Fast forward to today and it’s clear that those days are over.
If you don’t believe me, take Mark Schaefer’s word for it. Schaefer alludes to the basic fundamentals of economics, saying that we are experiencing a “content shock” in which content supply is high, while demand is low.
On one hand, marketers are producing overwhelming volumes of great content––so great that they’re planning to create 500% more of it in the next 5 years!
On the other hand, people’s mental capacities and short attention spans limit the amount of information they can consume.
Quite frankly, the notion that content creation can sustain itself is false. And consequently, marketers are pushed towards a pay-to-play model where they have to pay consumers to click or even take a glimpse of their content.
So Where Does The Content Shock Take Us?
This is the part where I drop the cynicism and tell you there’s good news.
The “content shock” does not imply the demise of content marketing; it simply ignites a new way of thinking about organic content reach and distribution. So the good news is, there is a solution; one that goes back to the old books of marketing.
It’s called “employee advocacy” but it’s really word-of-mouth marketing rebranded and repackaged to fit into the modern, digitally progressive, socially savvy era. The idea is that every employee– regardless of age, personality, or company role–can promote your content across their personal social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
You see, employee advocacy sparked a new wave of influencers; influencers that many companies are turning to as an effective marketing asset. Just look at the graph below––the upward trend of employee advocacy occurred at exactly the same time that organic reach plummeted. With the power of employee advocacy, marketers can easily sustain their organic traction without having to produce more content.
Why Does Employee Advocacy Work?
At its core, employee advocacy is rooted in trust and authenticity.
It takes us back to the basics of marketing and the “social proof theory”—social proof is a way for us to discern what is correct through reference to what other people think is correct in a given situation. So if numerous people line up outside the Apple Store to buy the latest iPhone, then observants will also want to line up.
In terms of social proof, employee advocacy grounds itself in the principle of “similarity.” You are more likely to adopt the behavior or attitude of someone who you perceive to be similar to you. And let’s face it: people are far more likely to relate to your employees than to your company.
Take for example the following scenarios:
- First Scenario: You watch a Kraft’s commercial for Macaroni & Cheese commercial on TV saying “gooey, creamy, and delicious Kraft Mac & Cheese”
- Second Scenario: Your friend tells you at work “OMG! I just had this Mac & Cheese, the one by Kraft, you’ve gotta try it!”
While the ad might give you the cravings for Mac & Cheese (it certainly did for me), your friend’s personal experience feels a lot more authentic and as a result, you’re more likely to trust it.
Just think about the last time you booked a hotel. You’d trust the review of a complete stranger over what the hotel promotes about itself. Even when we look at the statistics, only 15% of people trust brands, while 84% trust people they know.
The problem is that most social media networks today are polluted with ads, leaving little room for us to engage with real people. That’s exactly why companies are turning to employee advocacy; to tap into the human connections and social proof. Having employees deliver your message is equivalent to having a customer write a positive review—it’s contagious and highly credible.
How Employee Advocacy Grows Your Reach
Besides being the most trustworthy source your company has, employees also help to amplify your content’s reach.
For most companies, social media is like shouting at a busy highway—no one’s going to hear your message. However, adding employee advocacy as your megaphone ensures your message is transmitted loudly and clearly.
On average, your employees have 10 times more connections on social media than your corporate account has alone. That means 100 employees can easily reach some 1,000 more people than your marketing department alone.
Better yet, these 1,000+ connections represent a fresh and untouched audience territory. In fact, some companies have explicitly shown that corporate connections barely overlap with employee connection. Dell, for example, found that there was only 8% overlap between its employees’ Twitter followers and the company’s official Twitter followers.
By launching a formal advocacy program that enables employees to share content on a regular basis, you can easily tap into employees’ connections and exponentially grow your content’s reach.
Look No Further Than Your Employees
Similar to implementing a content discovery strategy, employee advocacy rips through the content shock crisis. Not only do employee advocates bring an unparalleled level of transparency and authenticity when communicating with prospective customers, they also help you unlock new audience territories to exponentially grow your reach. So next time you want to get your message out there, look no further than your employees.