Will Employee Advocacy be 2017’s Top Social Trend?

Businesses can have their marketing messages validated when employees act as advocates for the company.  Social media, particularly LinkedIn for B2B, can be a powerful platform to accomplish employee advocacy.  But there are some considerations, first.

Social media has become a cluttered, crowded space, ever more difficult for messaging to penetrate and resonate unless it is outrageous, fake (!), or validated in advance.  Serious marketers will stay away from options one and two…but let’s explore this idea of ‘advance validation’.

Advance validation is nothing new, in fact it is the original premise of the Like/Comment/Share hierarchy of engagement. The more others engage, the more ‘valid’ the message should be. 

Marketers have famously tried to create followers and fans that in turn validate the marketing messages on social media through the hierarchy of engagement, hoping to convince prospective customers through the sheer sum of numbers at the bottom of a post. And if you can get past a Like to a Comment/Share, then you have moved past mere validation into the realm of advocacy. Granted, all that got wildly distorted in practice during 2016, but that doesn’t mean the premise is faulty.

Businesses have a ready-made group of followers/fans that can validate messaging and advocate for the company: employees. And if a business sells to other businesses, then LinkedIn, with its superior database of business professionals, is the platform on which to have employees advocate for the company.

The first attribute that presents itself is the likelihood that employees collectively have an extensive network into the company’s industry, and through a structured network-growth program, they can quickly reach into prospect and target spaces, too. The tricky part is defining participant groups distinctly enough so everyone truly does have a vested interest in participating, and in operationalizing the programmatic aspects of the employee advocacy effort.

There is some evidence the platforms themselves see employee advocacy as an avenue they expect to tap in 2017.  New service offerings at the enterprise level speak to this (e.g. LinkedIn Elevate), as well as service offerings from companies like JQLaCorte and LucidPointe in the SMB tier.

Is an employee advocacy program in your future for 2017?  If you sell B2B, and you have a dedicated group of employees that can share in the value, the answer may be yes!