Businesses have invested a significant amount of resources trying to leverage external advocates to help propel their marketing efforts, but many are starting to realize that their own internal advocates can be much more effective.
In general, brand advocates have the unmatched ability to boost your social media efforts and reach while propelling your marketing strategies beyond what your company could achieve on its own. Many organizations look to outside advocates and influencer marketing to take advantage of their following, but that’s not always the right course of action. In fact, internal advocates have a leg up on their external counterparts in many respects.
Internal advocates are employees within your company who promote your brand through social media. They could be doing this on their own or be part of an organization-wide employee advocacy program. External advocates, also known as influencers, are folks who lie outside of the confines of your company umbrella, but are doing their part to promote your brand as well.
While there’s hardly such thing as bad promotion, your internal advocates certainly have advantages over their counterparts.
- Knowledge: Your employees already know the company, and speak in-depth to issues it's facing and the organization’s messaging. Even if some training is required on social media and to be an advocate, there is an advantage to using your employees’ expertise since they are more familiar to your company and industry. An outside influencer doesn’t know the ins and outs of your company, and might not have expertise in your industry, especially if you’re in a niche market.
- Reputation: The great part about internal advocates is that you already have their track record. You know their work ethic, how they work with other employees and you know their personalities. Knowing these strengths and weaknesses ahead of time is a huge asset, and external advocates can be somewhat of a wild card in comparison.
- Cost: Think about it - you’re already paying internal advocates as employees. Consider the cost of having to pay an influencer outside of your company, and the effort to get them up to speed on your brand and messaging. External advocates - if backed by the brand - will still require some investment in time and effort, but your employees are already on your clock.
- Loyalty: Your staff already has dedicated themselves to your brand, and while external advocates may love your company, there’s a sense of loyalty when you’re using advocates from within the company. The ripple effect of using employee advocates rather than promoting external advocacy can also boost morale from within the ranks.
Your internal advocates are a wealth of potential, and their benefits over external advocates make it a worthwhile investment in time and effort. Think of it this way: Your employees become the product when they’re acting as advocates on behalf of your brand. Customers already trust them as a more honest source than the brand itself, and when employees advocate for the brand, they’re in essence selling themselves as the product. An external advocate simply can’t wield that power as an outside source.
While taking advantage of an outside advocate through an influencer marketing strategy looks appealing because of their large following, it’s usually not the best option compared to an employee advocacy program.
Your combined workforce also has a larger following, further reach, and more minds working towards the same goal than one outside influencer. They can each use their own area of expertise and background to speak to different audiences. One influencer may not be able to sway as many different audiences as your employees.