The proven power of influencers in digital marketing has also led to the emergence of employee social advocacy: the voluntary promotion of a company by its own employees on social media platforms.

Employee social advocacy is an alternative to influencer marketing that involves looking inside the organization, instead of outside of it, to identify influential voices that will drive engagement and build trust in a truly authentic way.

And it works. In fact, it is rapidly spreading to all types of organizations and industries. Initially, top adopters were primarily private and public companies in professional services, advertising, marketing, and technology. But, during 2017, there was a notable increase in adoption across educational institutions, nonprofits, NGOs, and governmental organizations.

To boost their visibility and expand their reach, even highly regulated industries and organizations are now making use of the considerable social media footprint their employees.

Considering that 77% of employees report using social media regardless of whether their employer has a policy regulating social media use, and that 50% of employees already post content in social media about their employers without being asked to do so, the potential to turn your workforce into an army of social media influencers is massive.

In addition, it is estimated that the sum of all social media followers of employees of a company can be 10 times greater than that of the company alone.

Moreover, 79% of firms have reported more online visibility once implementing a formal employee advocacy program, according to a report by Hinge Marketing and Social Media Today. Brand messages shared by employees went 561% further than the same message shared on a brand-owned channel.

Social media users trust an employee more than they do a corporate social media profile or even the profile of a company CEO. People tend to have distrustful attitudes toward advertisements or anything that may seem like a marketing gimmick. Hearing company news from an employee makes it more credible. Employees know the company from within and are perceived as more trustworthy by their network of contacts, including family and friends. Empowering them as social media brand ambassadors also provides a human face to what consumers may see as a distant, impersonal corporation or business entity.

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image of Ismael El-Qudsi

Ismael El-Qudsi is CEO and co-founder of influencer marketplace and employee advocacy tool SocialReacher. His digital marketing experience includes roles as head of SEO and social media at Havas and project manager for Microsoft Bing in his native Spain.

Twitter: @elqudsi

LinkedIn: Ismael El-Qudsi