Employees are the untapped marketing channel

MOST executives would agree that the single biggest asset of their organisation is their people, their employees and management. Employee advocacy is at its core, the promotion of an organisation through its staff.
“Who knows the company best, who are the company’s biggest brand ambassadors, who understands the market best and has a high propensity to be on social media?” asks Pieter Groenewald, the managing director of the Internship, part of the Nfinity Group of companies.
“The answer to all of those questions is (that it is) the team members within any organisation.”
In South Africa, companies have not activated employee advocacy within their organisations as vigorously as in overseas markets merely because they do not understand the gold they are sitting on. If they do, they do not have the machinery to bring the gold to surface.
“The statistics speak for themselves in that most organisations have enough content to share to prospective clients and staff, but they don’t have the means to dominate communication channels due to the nature of these being pay-as-you-go or paying media owners. Once payments stop, so does the exposure.
“It makes sense to consider activating the skills of employees to become more digitally visible, to tap into this valuable communication channel, which is in fact not a pay-as-you-go channel, but rather continuous exposure through engagement and re-sharing, therefore delivering exceptional return on investment,” he says.
Being a completely new form of marketing in South Africa, readily available statistics are not available, but international statistics are completely relatable. The good news is that most employees are already on social media, so why not tap into that resource?

At the heart of social media is the coming together of like-minded people and communities.
In fact, 98% of employees are using social media for personal use, while 50% of those already post about their employers/organisation.
“It’s the old word-of-mouth methodology that’s been effectively translated online,” says Kevin Kirby, the COO of Nfinity.
“A total of 84% of customers say that they value the recommendations from friends and family while 21% of customers say that they ‘like’ employee posts about companies.”
Studies show that employees have 10 times more social connections than standard brands. An increase of 12% in brand advocacy can lead to 200% more revenue reveals another study.
“The reason it works is because people trust content and recommendations from people they know more than marketing messages from companies,” says Groenewald.
“In fact, people are 16 times more likely to read a post from a friend about a brand than from the brand itself. Employees are often the best salespeople of a brand (even if they’re not in sales). They have more influence over the products and services their friends and family buy than any piece of marketing material ever could.
Can you afford not to investigate?” he said.

Pieter Groenewald is the managing director of the Internship, part of the Nfinity Group of companies and Kevin Kirby is the COO of Nfinity.

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