Customers are losing faith in brand messaging: a recent study released by Edelman shows that only 48% of Americans trust businesses, down from 58% in 2017.
Internet users are less willing to respond to ads or branded content: last year, 25.2 percent of U.S. internet users blocked ads on their connected devices. In parallel, news feed algorithm changes make it challenging for companies to reach their audience on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
More and more businesses are integrating word-of-mouth marketing and employee advocacy into their marketing strategy to overcome those challenges and here are the reasons why:
The Marketing Value of Word-of-Mouth
Word-of-mouth marketing or WOMM is the most trusted type of marketing you can find: a 2018 study found that 83% of consumers would be more likely to buy a product if it was recommended by a friend or family member. This is a trend that cuts across all demographics – even millennials trust recommendations from people they know. Simply seeing a product featured in someone’s news feed makes a customer more likely to buy it.
WOMM works even if you don’t know the person making the recommendation. Anonymous consumer reviews are less trusted than recommendations from a friend, but still more effective than branded marketing.
The global trend of distrust in corporations and branded content has an impact on every sphere of life. At a time when fewer than half of consumers think that brands are truthful, more than three quarters follow the opinions and recommendations of friends and family, both online and offline. This suggests that online consumer recommendations and employee advocacy could be the marketing strategies with the highest ROI.
Your Employees Are Trusted Sources of Information
While trust in brands and businesses has been declining from year to year, content shared by employees is still seen as reliable information.
Consumers view your employees as people who know the truth about your business and are likely to be honest about your products and services. Trust in employees is especially important in B2B businesses, since you’ll have fewer customer reviews to share.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, employees are trusted twice as much as CEOs. Although messages and information shared through your brand’s official social media accounts could be viewed with suspicion by consumers, when an employee shares the same content, the trust it engenders can skyrocket.
What’s more, when you curate relevant and valuable information for your employees to share, you’ll help them position themselves as experts and thought leaders within the industry. That way you’ll bring more credibility to your business and boost your brand image.
Your Employees Can Amplify Your Reach
You know that almost all your employees have their own personal social media profiles, with their own audiences and connections who value their personal opinions. Most of them are already sharing information about your business so why not making it easy for them to share brand and industry-related content more often?
Your employees have bigger social networks than your official brand channels, and their connections are more likely to care about the opinions and information they post. This gives your employees the potential to generate massive engagement for your brand. For example, a post shared by an employee generates four clicks on average on Facebook. By sharing company news, product updates and any content related to your upcoming events, your employees can help you reach your target audience more effectively.
Happy Employees Are the Public Face of Your Business
Now more than ever, your employees’ social media feeds are part of the public face of your business. If your employees are seen as happy, loyal, and passionate about their jobs, it affects the way consumers view your products and services. It also shows that your company is a vibrant workplace, with a positive business culture that attracts the best talents.
Customers, candidates and partners are understandably drawn towards companies that are seen as good places to work. Employees who share positive content about their workplace give your business a double boost:
- Employees are perceived as a trusted source of information about your company and your products.
- Consumers value a company that is beloved by its workers.
Engaged Employees Help You Grow Your Business
When your employees share positive content about your business, it boosts your marketing in a number of ways. It extends the reach of your content, increases the value it has in the eyes of your consumers, and improves your employer brand.
Employee advocacy is one of the most valuable marketing tactics available today. With an employee advocacy program, you can amplify the benefits of word-of-mouth in an organized and measurable way that will improve your overall marketing ROI.