Towards the end of 2018, I received an email asking for my address so Reid Hoffman could send across a copy of his latest book. A few weeks ago the book 'Blitzscaling' arrived (I am sure a few people can appreciate how exciting this is for someone in a technology company!). The book itself explains how to build ‘massively valuable companies’ fast. One of the topics Reid discusses the importance of Network Effects at several points (I encourage you to read page X, 11, 66,67, 68).
This got me thinking about questions I am often asked when I sell our product with regards to adoption (of the technology) and driving employee advocacy through online channels.
I think the solution to both is through network effects. So what is one?
‘A product or service is subject to positive network effects when increased usage by any user increases the value of the product or service for other users’
A good example is LinkedIn (cheers Reid), I go there to create business connections, research clients and I will give the best account of myself. Other people go there to find new jobs or search for prospective candidates. Everyone is self-motivated to add value to the platform and therefore value is increasing for each additional user both in theory and in practice.
When it comes to creating employee advocates online, it is vital that you focus on creating this network effect within your business. If done correctly this will include a positive feedback loop i.e. we are selling more as a result or we are engaging the 'right' 10 accounts.
I’ve included one of our diagrams that explains our product, Passle, below to help explain the process that can lead to achieving this when it comes to creating advocates that will drive business forward. The quote below is from LinkedIn which supports this nicely too!
For an employee to use their high value online profile (i.e. LinkedIn or email account) to be an advocate they must feel that what they share is adding value to their network and job (I.e. selling or recruiting).
So they need to have a say in what is created or trust the person that is driving this content generation.
This means you need people from across your organisation to be involved in requesting and creating the content as they will hold the valuable insight (a technology firm should involve the engineers, presales, customer success, sales, consultants, professional services etc.).
So every employee that requests/shares content to be created and every expert in your company that creates that piece of high value content will make the program a tiny bit more valuable for every other employee.
Crucially the feedback to these employees on how this positively impacts their business objectives will lead to a ‘blitzscaling’ effect.
A little word about employee advocacy...
The value in executing an employee advocacy program within your business ties nicely to how buyer behaviours have changed. Buyers are increasingly conducting more due diligence online before they contact a seller and therefore there is an opportunity here to enter this process earlier.
However, as a sales person you need to be adding value to this process or you are just getting in the way. And by the way, these buyers are not searching for your product, they are looking for answers to their challenges and new opportunities....
The long-term success of your employee advocacy program is up to—you guessed it—your employees. You could mandate sharing as part of their job description, but that leads to uninspiring, corporate-sounding shares. To keep enthusiasm up, give employees content they want to share, and let them see how their sharing is affecting the business. People want to share content that they find genuinely interesting. Let your employees have a voice in choosing content that resonates with them, as well as holding value for the audience. Make employees part of the curation process, and you will get more engagement down the line.