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by Jason Taylor December 22, 2015

social_media.pngEmployee Advocacy in its inception is the idea of providing great products and services as well as a positive work environment to encourage employee to get on their “soapbox” and sing the praises of the brand. We have all seen the evolution of communication unfold before our very eyes. We have seen society turn to social media as the outlet to voice their opinion for any number of topics, one being their employer. Organizations have picked up on this and now see the opportunity to leverage their employees and those connected via social networks.

One of the most common questions I have heard is: “If we adopt an employee advocacy program, how do can we monetize it?” It’s simple, it all start with providing an easy way for employees to access corporate-approved content, share, and measure the results. I will get into detail but let’s start with the basics. I like to think of this as a gradual process from employee advocate to social seller. With the proper training and technology, they will learn best practices and have the ability to attach real dollars to their social activity.

The most basics of advocacy are all about brand awareness, getting branded content in front of as many eyes as possible while driving thought leadership around what you do. When it comes to technology, there are a multitude of platforms available that can accomplish this task but if you are looking to attach revenue to these efforts you need something that is advanced in functionality.

When it comes to realizing revenue with advocacy and social selling programs, I see three very important pieces to the equation.

1. Content

Providing engaging relevant content is tremendously important. If all your advocates are doing is sharing product driven content they’re networks will stop listening and see them as spammers. We all have that friend on Facebook.

2. Training

I can’t reiterate this enough, without proper guidance your advocates will just turn into an extension of the marketing team. The idea here is to close business as direct result from these social activities, so enable them to be “Social Sellers.” I have seen this happen at numerous organizations and it is a fantastic thing to see the light go off.

3. Technology

Content is in place, employees are trained on best practices, now let’s introduce a technology solution that will make this super easy for marketing to get content into the hands of the advocates and makes it super easy for them to share said content and measure the results.

Here are some essential steps to moving through the employee advocacy to revenue model successfully:

Through proper training they will take one step closer to a “Social Seller.” Teach them to put their ear to the ground and listen for conversations that deal with what they do. My boss uses the analogy:

“What would you do if there was a room full of your prospects talking about a problem that you provide a solution to and you told one of your reps to go into the room and join the conversation and they said no….you would probably fire them right?”

This will help to uncover hidden opportunities that may have been missed, gain insight on competitors and prospects, and better understand the customer’s needs. These conversations are happening every day on social.

Now that they are in the right place it is time to execute the daunting task of engaging, its make or break time. Once again, with proper training you can teach your team how to engage in these conversations without being to “salesy.” If you are genuine in your outreach and provide relevant insight in an effort to help your audience will recognize that and it will help to establish credibility.

Contextual Sharing

Moving on to the next “phase” if you will is creating these types of conversations. It’s all about context! Why is this relevant to your audience or a specific individual? With proper context, you can attract people to these conversations, add value, nurture and create relationships, and eventually close some business.

Revenue Attribution

Reach and Brand Awareness are important but being able to attach a dollar amount to all of this is much more important. This is where having a platform that integrates at a data level with your CRM is highly beneficial for both sales and marketing. Marketing can now measure a tangible result to their efforts which in turn typically increases there budget. Sales will have insight into the amount of leads generated, revenue attributed to social activity, and also they have a better lens into the buyers journey.