Digital employee advocacy.  One category of social influencer that is often overlooked by organizations are the very people who work in your organization.  These internal influencers, employee advocates, are closer to your products and services than anyone else.  When they say something online their messages are trusted by the audience they reach.  Because your employees live your brand, when they use their online assets and social networks they can generate a tremendous amount of positive exposure for your brands.

“Employees can generate a tremendous amount of positive online exposure for your brands.”

It doesn’t matter if you have a company of 5 employees or 10,000.  You want to engage these people to share their love of what they do, and the products and services they represent, with the online world.  You might have an online rock-n-roll star and not even know it.  This is a new idea for many companies.  In fact, some companies try hard to prevent employees from seeing or using social.  This is not only impossible, it is counter productive.  Employees are now an essential aspect of your digital marketing strategy.

There are two pieces to this puzzle.  First, you need to listen.  You need to find out who in your company is currently an influencer, blogger or advocate.  And, what are they saying? Obviously if you have five employees it won’t be that difficult.  When you get past 100 it’s not so easy. Finding the right people.  Again we need to look at the new way of doing business.  In the old model the CEO would say “find me a list.”  They are looking for the list of internal and external influencers.  It makes sense, but today doesn’t work that way.  You need to listen to what people are saying to decide who should be a spokesperson.  Not everyone can.  And, good spokespeople may have small networks, which can be o.k.

BY THE NUMBERS – According to the Pew Research 15% of Facebook users have more than 500 friends. Among adult Facebook users, the average (mean) number of friends is 338, and the median (midpoint) number of friends is 200.

Indeed, when you look at the social networks that people have they often fall into one of two categories.  One type of person has a very large network.  Thousands of friends in all sorts of geographic locations with diverse interests.  A second type is the person who has a small network, but it is very focused… perhaps 200 people who love music, or skiing, or cooking.  So you can see that both could be useful to your cause.  The fact is that if you have 100 employees the number of people that could be contacted via social networks could easily reach 500,000.  Can you imagine how helpful that could be with new product launches… or even crisis communications?

The second thing you want to do is engage employees in the process of online dialog to create a powerful social marketing engine. Not surprisingly there are a number of companies that provide online services and software tools to help you with the entire process – identify, engage and monitor the usage of social media by your employees.  GaggleAMP® (http://www.gaggleamp.com) is one example.  Their system helps you see who is sharing content and is active on social media on behalf of your company and brands.  They also make it easy to share and measure the impact of employee generated content and even have games to encourage it.

They have discovered something else.  Employees who are most active with online dialog reflect the positive characteristics of pride, ambition, and happiness.   As a result one gauge of employee satisfaction is their online engagement, which corresponds to the emotional and functional commitment they have to the organization.  This is powerful because it shows that online engagement is this two-way street that connects employees to their jobs and their networks.  Your brands benefit from the interaction and you can learn about and enhance employee satisfaction.

This article is an excerpt from the marketing book Transformative Digital Marketing available on Amazon.