There’s a lot of discussion happening right now in nearly every dealership about employees and social media, and whether to encourage employee participation in social media and content marketing. It’s a fact that employees and content marketing can be a minefield without certain components in place. However, I wouldn’t want you to miss a major opportunity to leverage your most valuable asset and bring in more leads and sales.
The Edelman Trust Barometer 2016 was published recently. Each year, this global credibility and trust study delivers juicy information on the important marketing trends and behaviors happening in the world based on trust.
The Trust Index component is the average of a population’s trust in institutions, business and media. The U.S. general population is in the “Distruster” column (no surprise there, eh?). However, employees are now essential advocates – they are the most trusted “spokespeople” for a company.
Consider the following stats on how peers recommend companies and influence purchases:
- Actions taken in the last 12 months based on trust: 59% recommended companies to friend or colleague.
- Impact of peer conversations about brands: 75% make decisions/overcome concerns/warn me about risks.
- Peers and employees are more credible than leaders:
63% say a “Person Like Yourself” is more credible than a CEO
52% say an employee is more credible than a CEO
Employees are essential advocates.
Employees are the most-trusted resource in communicating treatment of employees and customers. Employees are trusted more than the CEO, a senior executive, an activist consumer, an academic and a media spokesperson (advertising).
What this means for your store is that employees who receive thoughtful training about how to communicate their brand along with the company’s brand online, and are encouraged to participate in social media and content marketing, can essentially improve your online reputation and increase sales.
“employees are now essential advocates – they are the most trusted “spokespeople” for a company.”
However, without training and establishment of “What’s in it for me,” this can in fact be a minefield.
But you’re smarter than that. With the numbers coming out of this study, it’s clear you have a major opportunity here to leverage employees’ expertise to promote your store and capture more leads and sales.
The act of allowing employees to become thought leaders within their own network and throughout your market delivers great advantages. With your most-trusted “spokespeople” on the job, your company develops and solidifies credibility and trust with buyers.
Once you’ve made the decision to enhance your social media and content marketing with employee participation and contributions, your next steps will either bring you to the next level or cause you to crash and burn.
Here are five questions to answer that will make your efforts stick:
- What are our first steps in getting employees to participate in content marketing?
- Show them the value. Customers are Googling salespeople. Be ready!
- Alleviate fears with information and training.
- Make it fun! Gamify your goals wherever possible. I have a dealership client who offered their salespeople $25 for every verifiable Google 4 or 5 star review, where the salesperson was mentioned. They went from 23 reviews to 161 in 90 days.
- How do we motivate employees to participate?
- Compensation always helps. The companies who’ll win in this new sales paradigm will offer rewards to employees who share their expertise.
- Check in at sales meetings. Recognize the wins and learn from your missteps.
- Should employee participation in content be mandatory?
- Yes, but not perceived so. It’s all in the delivery of your requirements and how well employees can assimilate content creation into their job duties.
- Everyone has something they can contribute. You make other things mandatory, right?
- It’s a delicate balance because you’re introducing something very new and weird for most.
- Recognize and reward for ‘superstar’ participation.
- What tools can we use to make it super simple for employees to contribute?
- Dropbox is always a good option for beginners and/or smaller dealerships.
- Shared Google Docs are also a good option, depending on the technological aptitude of your team.
- For larger enterprise: DynamicSignal, SocialChorus and PostBeyond.
- Should employees be compensated for their contributions?
- Hey, don’t expect quality content if you’re not willing to pay for it.
- Don’t expect employees to support the company for free. It’s a task like any other and that needs to be compensated. Adding more work without recognition or compensation will produce the opposite effect you’re looking for.
- A solid plan and process includes compensating your most-trusted “spokespeople.”
I realize that this concept of trusting employees with your brand can be very off-putting for some managers and owners. I find some who bristle at the idea have not fully considered these processes or explored them at any great length.
Get some assistance when appropriate to bridge you to the other side. In our efforts working with dealerships on their social media, content marketing and employee engagement strategies, nearly all have mentioned that, “With someone to light our way, we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
Truly engaged workplaces are rare but there are companies who buck this trend. Leaders of these winning organizations understand that employee engagement drives real business results.
The only question now is…will you be one of them?
Author: Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”. Her Kruse Control Blog is the leading Automotive Social Media blog in the U.S.