- Social marketers say that employee advocacy — urging employees to post brand recommendations on their own social channels — is the most important way to harness the power of influencer marketing campaigns, according to a Sprout Social survey shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Social marketers see the value in employee advocacy as a scalable alternative to influencer marketing. Seventy-one percent of social marketers use employees as influencers or advocates today or want to in the future, while only 19% of marketers surveyed had the budget for an influencer program.
- The shift to employee advocacy reflects a shift in consumer tastes, according to Sprout Social, as 61% of people said in the study that they would be more likely to research a product or service that a friend recommends on social media, compared with 36% for influencers or celebrities.
Employee advocacy could be a cost-efficient way to deliver the authenticity people are seeking from brands on social media. Enabling high-reach employees with quality content and messaging, marketers could expand their reach online while more easily staying on-message, as the employees are already familiar with the brand and its goals. It's not hard to imagine a company like Starbucks, which had 277,000 employees worldwide last year, urging its baristas to recommend products to their friends on social media and earn a commission for the referrals.
This comes as influencer marketing has grown alongside the popularity of social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn. Nearly half of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets this year, but most are still figuring out the most effective ways to spend those budgets.
Previous research by Fullscreen and Shareablee found that mid-tier creators proved more engaging and trustworthy than both celebrities and micro-influencers. Highlighting the importance of authenticity in product recommendations, the Sprout Social survey goes a step further, finding that consumers are more likely to trust the opinions of friends than those of paid spokespeople or influencers who have deals with a brand.