Developing meaningful relationships with colleagues creates a sense of purpose in business and develops a positive culture and image that builds the business from the inside out. Increasing levels of employee engagement can also be a catalyst for better productivity, stability, creativity and profitability. Here’s five ways that employee engagement can help you win new business. 1) Employee authenticity Although many SMEs believe digital marketing will increase brand awareness, the reality is that people online are more likely to listen to a business’s employees than information directly from the brand itself. The Official Guide to Employee Advocacy by LinkedIn states “the click through rate (CTR) on a piece of content is two times higher when shared by an employee versus when shared by the company itself”. Within the same guide, LinkedIn reports employees are trusted more than brands, saying: “People are three times more likely to trust company information shared by an employee than that shared by a CEO.” To increase brand awareness, it is crucial for SMEs to harness the authenticity inherent within employees to achieve cut-through and generate leads. 2) People listen to people The rise in ad blockers and the amount of information people are bombarded with means there is a scarcity of attention. Because of this people will prioritise information from trusted sources online – their family, friends and peers. SMEs can gain a competitive advantage by engaging their employees who in turn will share information through their powerful and influential networks. This methodology is much more likely to attract new talent to the business and lead to new sales, rather than relying on direct brand push marketing alone. By galvanising your colleagues, you can help them spread positive word-of-mouth to people that trust them. SMEs needs to be realistic and acknowledge most people would rather hear information from other people not direct from a brand. 3) Digital transformation For HR professionals, transforming the business digitally is a very hot topic right now and employee engagement needs to be at the heart of that discussion. SMEs can optimise their employee capital by exploring how their colleagues use social media. McKinsey & Co state: “The impact of social media on buying decisions is greater than previously estimated and the pool of the most effective influencers is largely untapped.” For many small to medium businesses, the power of their employee base on social media remains largely untapped but is a huge resource that should and can be managed to great effect. By using digital transformation to close the gap between the HR and Marketing departments, SMEs can harness employee satisfaction to project a positive image of your company and execute more effective PR that will lead to increased revenue. 4) A new era of Influencer Marketing When we hear the word ‘Influencers’ today we often think of Youtuber or Instagram celebs or personalities with millions of followers, however for businesses, employees are the new influencers. Employees have high levels of trust within their networks and can be mobilised at scale. They can act as brand advocates and although they may have much less reach individually, they have high levels of engagement and people will listen and act upon what they say. Employers need to look at different touch points within the business where they can engage with employees to create a space that is positive and develops reciprocal behaviour. With employee influencers activated at scale, employers will be able to increase brand influence and the power to create new business. 5) New technology Until recently, managing employee advocates has been a manual and laborious process. New technology now means social media employee advocacy programmes can be adopted by brands to manage, scale, track and report accurately on employee engagement and influence. Companies now have the opportunity to really work with their best asset – their colleagues. A social media employee advocacy programme can start with just a few staff that can act as champions inside the business. When an employee joins the programme, they are able to connect their personal social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), access brand content and share it. Brand content doesn’t just mean new products and services – it can be fun charity team activities, individual employee achievements or something else the business would like to celebrate. Employees will feel more valued and engaged, there will be more sense of purpose, brand endorsements will increase and it will help you win new business. Andrew Seel is CEO of Qubist, one of Real Business’ Future 50
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