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The Forgotten Role of Employees in Earned Social Media

B962ABCAC7_1.jpg November 08, 2013 / Mikael Lauharanta

Earned media is the holy grail of marketing. There’s nothing better than having a bunch of people voluntarily talk about your brand across social media. There’s also a huge difference between advertising on social media and getting people to actually talk.

When a person sends a status update, it goes straight into the news feed instead of the dreaded banner section, which the contemporary brain has learned to phase out. Companies can of course buy sponsored updates that appear in the news feeds, but they are ridiculously expensive with minimum CPC bids starting from as high as $3.35 on Linkedin for example! What’s more, updates from connections are generally regarded as 6 times more trustworthy than messages coming straight from the company.

WOM of Social Era

At the moment companies are spending a lot of time and money on content creation for their social media company pages and banner ads. However, they are struggling to reach their target audience, because 97% of the social media communication happens between people instead of companies and people.

According to a great Klout blog post “Telling Your Brand Story with Digital Earned Media” earned media is the most effective form of media at driving engagement. This comes as no surprise when you think of earned media as a special case of word-of-mouth marketing – the world’s oldest way of affecting others and spreading information.

As much as I enjoyed reading the blog, I couldn’t help noticing that earned media was described as something only customers can do. What a lot of companies don’t realize is that their own employees probably play an even more integral role in driving engagement and virality of their social media marketing and communication activities for a couple of reasons.


1. Employee social media networks multiple times larger than the average company follower base on social media

According to our data collection from LinkedIn, if you can motivate your employees to share company related content to their networks, you’ll reach approximately 15 times more people in the first wave alone compared to sharing just from your company page.


2. Employees benefit from the success of the company

Employees like to display their employer in a good light, because it increases the perceived value of their work whether they are planning to stay there forever or not. Surprisingly many companies haven’t yet grasped this for some inexplicable reason.


3. Employees know the company’s products and services better than anyone else

Brand ambassadors or brand advocates from outside your organization are awesome. Some of them go out of their way to spread awareness and their love for your products, but your own employees are the ones who are most likely to be able to answer to criticism and intricate follow-up questions.

Earned media is worth its weight in gold for companies. However, most of the money is currently being spent on content creation instead of making sure the precious content reaches as large and relevant a target audience as possible. I hope in the future more companies will realize this and start looking for ways and tools to get their employees involved in spreading company related content to their social media networks even if it’s just by asking them to participate at first! After all, the goals and values of the company should match those of their employees, right?

If you'd like to unleash the communication potential in your employee networks, take a look around and learn about the groundbreaking SmarpShare Employee Advocacy tool, and try it for yourself!