Don’t Trust Us- Look at the Data | Gagen MacDonald

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Don’t Trust Us- Look at the Data

Jan 23, 2015

Last year, my firm APCO partnered with Huffington Post to launch a study of what makes social media campaigns effective. You can read the details about what we did on our Social EQ website, but the short version is that we derived six discrete factors that in the eyes of the most influential participants online make a company or organization worth supporting on social channels. We then quantified the impact social media success has on product referrals, price elasticity, policy and campaign support, and even stock purchases among the members of that group.

Our research revealed that executive and employee engagement, along with relationship building with key online influencers, combine to form the factor that has the most impact on effectiveness and the biggest impact on business results. The imperative is clear – companies must allow their employees and encourage their leaders to engage in social in a major way – to Let Go and Lead.

It can be a win-win. When Best Buy asked its employees to engage with customers online via Twelpforce, for example, their program not only increased customer satisfaction, purchase intent and likelihood to spend more per purchase among consumers who engaged the company in this way, but it also increased loyalty and motivation among participating employees, despite the fact that these employees were participating on their own time. Consider this quote from an employee one year into the program:

“I love Twelpforce because it benefits the employee as much as it does the company [it] makes me a more valuable employee because I not only understand more about the products and services we offer, but also that I better understand the company as a whole and how each part fits into the ‘retail store– field service – corporate’ puzzle.”

We see these results again and again once companies empower their employees to engage. Employees volunteer, increasing the effectiveness of marketing, customer service and reputation building in a very cost-efficient way. The programs are wildly successful, because as Social EQ tells us, employee engagement is a key cue that social influencers look for to determine if a company is worth supporting. And because they are trusted, empowered and making a clear difference, participating employees are happier, loyal, feel more connected and do more than their peers. Success breeds success, participation increases and the company locks into a virtuous cycle of value creation.

You don’t have to jump in with both feet. Companies likeSprint (the Ninjas), Coca-Cola (the Happiness Ambassadors) and Microsoft (MVPs) started by instituting quite modest social media ambassador programs, managing risk by hand-picking participants, training them extensively on the do’s and don’ts, and pushing latest approved information to them regularly. These programs inevitably expand as management and participants alike realize the incredible value that can be unlocked, but they can be a great way to start. Or go even slower, engaging marketing and communications staff already schooled on professional communication first (but by all means, make sure they speak in a conversational tone).

Whether you move fast or slow, whether your customers are businesses or consumers, whether your brand is known to all or relatively obscure, find a way to let your employees participate. Let Go and Lead. It works. We have the data to prove it.

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