Despite clear statistics telling us that the modern buyer’s journey has changed, making audiences more receptive to value-add content than sales content, a large proportion of B2B employees and marketers still question why they should invest in social media.
So, how should we measure the impact of social media? Do we really understand the value of our social media efforts in terms of revenue? If we can’t answer these questions from a marketing context, chances are we’re going to struggle when it comes to Employee Advocacy and Social Selling.
One of the issues driving this cynicism is that brands can’t see key decision makers on platforms such as Twitter or Instagram. We know that advocacy and social selling both deliver higher lead conversion and faster and larger deal cycles, but it seems brands are also looking to understand how the C-suite are influenced by employee content.
According to Onalytica’s and Tribal Impact’s report: Employee Advocacy 2.0, by engaging the top 1% of market influencers, we can, in turn, influence up to 80% of our target audience through social sharing and dark social (for example: areas of social where the C-suite are more prevalent such as email, text, word-of-mouth and phone). So, it doesn’t matter where you are in your Social Business journey or indeed which function you’re driving the transformation from, one common factor is that you need to be clear about what you’re measuring and how you’re measuring it.
Why Measure Social Advocacy Impact?
As we said at the start of this article, our buyer’s journey has changed. We know that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to support their purchase decisions and an incredible 90% of B2B buyers are more likely to engage with sales professionals who are viewed as thought leaders in their industry.
Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing sums this up in a nutshell: “In a world where buyers trust their barista and used car salesmen more than marketers, brands desperate to find effective ways to engage with new customers are beginning to realize the solution is right in front of them: employees. Research has shown customers trust employees more than ads or formal marketing messages. Inspiring employee advocacy means brands can enlist those closest to knowledge of the company’s solutions to make genuine, authentic recommendations that people want to hear.”
The three core components of Employee Advocacy success are – training, tools and content. If you miss one out, there’s a good chance you could massively reduce your adoption levels and, ultimately, the success of your program. Your advocacy tool should come first, then the realization that content needs to be managed (otherwise it’s a big mess). Finally, training is wrapped around to reinforce the “what’s in it for me” question often posed by employees.
The Onalytica/Tribal Impact Employee Advocacy 2.0 report takes this another step further by considering the employees as influencers.
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How To Measure Employee Advocacy and Influencer Impact
Algorithms are becoming ever-more sophisticated, putting only content that might add value in front of your audience, and your employee advocacy program needs to be able to keep pace with this.
You’ll see references to ‘vanity metrics’: these are all about the millions of impressions, reach and engagements achieved by our content. In isolation, they mean very little. Put into context, they can provide insight into what is and isn’t working for you – what you should stop doing, and what you should do more of. Many employee advocacy tools will provide you with data around usage and content. The trick is to understand the narrative and the story behind what the data is telling you and be sure that you can continually see the journey your employees are on.
Let us take you through how to measure the impact and progression of social advocacy within your business in relation to the adoption stage you may be at.
1. Setting Advocacy Objectives:
Firstly, you need to understand how and why you’re researching Employee Advocacy. Consider wider business metrics and the impact that advocacy can have. For example:
- Sales – Demand generation in the marketplace; increase in leads generated; total business influenced and closed; average order value and average deal cycle length
- Marketing – Brand share of voice compared with competitors; brand perception against key words
- Internal Comms – Staff engagement survey outcomes
- Recruitment – Employee satisfaction and retention; total new hires from employee referrals, and their cost of hire
When it comes to the influencer aspect of advocacy, the metrics include monitoring your employees’ journey through the various personas associated with becoming an influencer. Success means moving your employees from inactive to enthusiast; from networker to thought leader; from connector to influencer. To learn more about your employees’ transformation and how you can turn your employees into influencers, head on over to this blog post. You now need to be considering additional metrics, such as:
- Number and quality of employee influencer relationships
- External influencer engagement
- Content shares of branded content
- Employees creating their own content
- Brand Awareness, share of voice and perception
- Referral site traffic from program
2. Measuring Launch Success:
All successful programs start with a well-planned and managed launch phase. There are some important metrics specific to this phase too – and it’s critical to be agile at this stage. Quick action can accelerate your success. For example:
- Percentage adoption organisation-wide
- Percentage of invited employees that registered
- Percentage of active users (with regular logins)
- Percentage users (mobile vs desktop)
- Identify and highlight early adopters
- Identify and educate social spammers
- Identify and encourage least active sharers
- Calculate average number of articles shared per week, per employee
And, when you’re extending your program to bring influencer marketing into the fold too, you need to reflect this in your success criteria and your metrics. Important points to note are:
- Take the time to audit your employees at the beginning of the program so that you can set goals on progression and measure their progress over time once they have started engaging with influencers
- Ensure you understand your employees’ area of expertise and connect them with well-aligned influencers. Measure their increase in influencer relationships built over time
- Remember it’s about helping your employees to become influencers in their own right; aim to increase their social activity and network size simultaneously over time
- Don’t automatically expect every employee to move to the top right ‘influencer’ category on the maturity matrix. Each and every one of your employee’s journeys will look different from the last in terms of overall maturity and progress time. Be patient and focus on helping your employees get to the next stage, whatever that may be
- Employees will notice their peers’ success over time meaning that naturally more will want to join. Pay close attention to the quantity of employees proactively asking you to join
A quick measure of success is to look at your average cost per click for paid social campaigns. For example, you can expect to pay somewhere between €3-€6 per click on LinkedIn. Multiply the number of clicks by average cost and you can understand cost saved versus value driven by your program.
Optimising Content & Usage:
By now, your advocacy program has been running for at least 6 months. Optimisation will look at users, content and training to understand which levers you need to pull/adjust in order to drive success.
You will now start to gain a deeper understanding of what the data is telling you. Look for patterns, correlations and comparisons. For example understand if advocacy-referred leads generate higher conversion rates from lead to MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and from MQL to SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). This is also the stage where you need to pay close attention to your content. Without relevant and interesting content for your Employee Advocacy Program, you will struggle with engagement and adoption.
- Percentage volume traffic referred via social advocacy (by tracking UTM)
- Percentage job posting views (from employee generated traffic)
- Percentage bounce rate of traffic (advocacy driven versus other)
- Percentage conversion (advocacy driven versus other)
- Most shared content (which categories do your employees share?)
- Most clicked content – what are your employee networks interested in?
- Most engaging content – what type of content is getting engagements?
- Most popular categories – check correlations between volume of content submitted and that shared
- High performing content – are there patterns to this, such as hashtags, mentions, lists, controversial topics, how to’s…?
- Ratio of brand/non-brand content – is it right/balanced?
- Who submits the most content?
- Who submits the most engaging content?
- Who submits content with the most clicks?
- Do any categories need more thought leadership?
Connecting Advocacy To Revenue:
It’s here: that moment when Google Analytics is talking to your marketing automation system and your automation platform is connected to your Sales CRM platform. Identify patterns and look for correlations across data. Providing you have the tool stack connected and UTM tracking switched on, you can weave advocacy touched/influenced/generated attribution into your model.
In effect, you turn your workforce into a sales force, where potentially everyone can influence the buyer journey. For example:
- Sales generated via advocacy
- Correlation SSI score/advocacy activity
- Comparison between quota attainment and advocacy activity
- Closure rate of pipeline – comparing advocacy generated vs other
- Total new customers generated via advocacy program activity
- Staff engagement results compared to advocacy launch interest
- Recruitment costs saved as a result of employee referrals
- Compare average onboarding time of advocacy-referred recruits vs other recruits
- Average engagement of advocacy-referred employees v other employees
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) trends versus advocacy adoption
- Savings made on paid social using average Cost Per Click
- Percentage conversion rate of advocacy leads vs other leads
Measuring the impact of advocacy and influencer marketing needs to be considered within the wider context of your business. Look at what your business is already measuring and then seek out correlations and comparisons based on the data you get within your employee advocacy tool. With end-to-end attribution, there is no reason why you can’t get to a position where you can confidently predict the proportion of customers that close (and your pipeline therefore generated) as a result of your advocacy program.
Most importantly, remember this advice from the Employee Advocacy 2.0 report: “Employee Advocacy, Influencer Marketing and Social Selling are all employee-led programs that have similar characteristics however, tend to be led by different departments. It is therefore imperative to create integrated programs that can feed off the same content base, influencer intelligence and leverage existing relationships. Clear instruction and program management is required so that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities and what is expected of them.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Employee Advocacy 2.0
Leveraging influence to drive a connected organisation and employee-led buyer journey
Download this free report to learn how to integrate Influencer Marketing, Employee Advocacy and Social Selling into one advocacy program.