Employees vs. Influencers: Are They Really That Different?

By Matter

Leveraging social influencers is a common strategy to help boost brand awareness. Using their social platforms, influencers help spread the word about a particular product or brand campaign via photos, videos and personal anecdotes. As a result, brands reach a new audience in hopes to garner more brand fans. Though influencer programs are commonly associated with consumer clients, business to business (B2B) companies shouldn’t rule out the strategy. In fact, B2B companies would be surprised to learn that they need to look no further than their own employees to help catapult their brand in their respective industry.


Employees as Brand Advocates

Our B2B clients have employees who are widely known as thought leaders and innovators in the spaces they operate in. Through the many conferences and tradeshows they attend and speak at, executives are able to organically build their professional network and make connections with similar leaders. By meeting in a professional setting, the majority of the connections executives make via their personal social channels are probably similar to the connections the company is striving to reach on their corporate channels.

However, with their busy schedules, it’s likely (and justifiably so) that the last thing on executives’ minds is their LinkedIn profile. Sure, they accept connection requests every so often, but are they sharing company news or industry trends? Businesses must view their employees’ social presence (or lack thereof) as an opportunity to grow brand awareness, and an excellent starting platform is LinkedIn.


Leveraging LinkedIn to Increase Brand Awareness

As of April 2017, LinkedIn now claims 500 million registered users, with two new members joining the site every second. While the platform used to be thought of as primarily a job recruitment network, it’s now more widely used amongst company leaders and executives to drive conversation with others in their respective industry around trends they’re seeing, new industry data or to share opinion pieces, just to name a few uses. As a company, it’s important to demonstrate to your employees how they can join the conversations and also start their own. By developing personal content and engaging with like-minded professionals on LinkedIn, your employees can amplify their profiles and help boost overall brand awareness.

Before beginning content discussions, it’s important to make sure that executive profiles are streamlined and appeal to the correct audience. Particularly, the headline and summary need to be rich with keywords specific to their profession as they’re the first two sections LinkedIn members read. For the headline, instead of the executive’s current title, they should highlight key areas of interest and expertise to quickly catch the eye of potential new connections. Because LinkedIn works like a search engine, including SEO keywords in the headline also makes it easier for executives to be found in relevant searches. Then, their summary should provide a high-level overview of their unique specialties to help paint the picture of their successful career path. The summary can also highlight personal interests, especially if those interests happen to connect with their career of choice. For example, a Chief Marketing Officer might be inclined to share that they’re passionate about storytelling and digging into market research.

Not every executive performs the same job or has the same interests in the industry, so setting personalized content objectives is important. This not only helps the executive reach connections on a more personal level, but with each executive generating different content, the company is also able to show off its wide range of skills. Content can range from sharing articles about the company to future-thinking industry articles, such as autonomous vehicle predictions or where artificial intelligence will be in twenty years, depending on their line of work. Additionally, executives have the option to create articles themselves around any topic that is of interest to them, rather than only sharing external links. These articles are similar to blog posts and appear on LinkedIn Pulse where others have the option to begin following that person to view future stories. Alongside posting on their own pages, it’s important for executives to make new connections – whether that’s with other people in the industry or with relevant LinkedIn groups. Of course, posting regular content and executing new relationships is time consuming, so there are platforms that can help guide your employees to post the most appropriate content for your brand.


Employee Advocacy Platforms

To ensure all employees can become brand advocates, there are tools that make it easier for employees to share content on an ongoing basis.For example, Bambu is an employee advocacy platform that businesses can instate for their employees to make it easier for them to amplify their brand’s reach across social networks. Bambu allows any employee with access to the platform to draft suggested posts for sharing across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to then be shared by their colleagues. While Bambu gives employees the option to draft content, with other content readily available, it cuts out creation time and encourages employees to post more frequently. Other platforms, such as Sociabble and Trapit, offer similar services to help make brand advocacy a company-wide initiative.


A Comprehensive Social Media Approach = Business Success

Overall, initiating employees as brand advocates ends up benefiting the business as well as the employee. By providing social counsel, businesses have the opportunity to reach a wider audience through employees’ channels and employees may also grow their professional network and skillset. Keeping up with industry trends and maintaining a social presence is just as important for businesses as it is for their employees, and a cohesive business approach to utilizing social media can help everyone increase their awareness and become more engaged.

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