After FaceBook announced its recent algorithm change, social media has gone into overdrive with advice on how to manage the impact on businesses. It’s certainly caused some debate, but on the flip side, it’s also highlighted something we’ve been banging the drum about. The importance of engaging with your happy customers and staff, to boost business growth through customer and employee advocacy.
So what’s the story here?
Making Facebook 'more meaningful'
Described by Mark Zuckerberg as making Facebook content ‘more meaningful’, the change will reduce the amount of brand and news content in our Facebook feeds, in favour of family and friends shared content.
Some commentators have hyped up this change, saying it will lead to businesses being unable to access Facebook users' news feeds. This would reduce their organic reach and force companies along the route of paid advertising.
To some extent, we believe this is unnecessary hype created by those with their own agenda to drive more business their way. Frankly, in our opinion, there’s no need for panic over a change that businesses can easily manage themselves.
Others have taken a more pragmatic approach, suggesting the change will make little difference. Their reasoning is that Facebook has always de-prioritised business content and is effectively a paid social media channel for businesses.
The importance of customer and employee advocacy
What is consistent, across both camps, is the suggestion that businesses can lessen the impact of this change. And how can they do this? By encouraging more engagement with their customers and employees, so they become brand advocates and share content through their natural conversations.
We’ve been pushing the importance of this ever since we launched The Customer Happiness Score, so we couldn’t be more pleased it’s now come to the fore.
Maximising the benefits of customer and employee advocacy are two things we’ve always recommended as being essential to any company’s business strategy.
How customer advocacy can benefit your business
84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Word of mouth has always been a powerful marketing tool, but the growth of digital media has changed the way people access that information. It’s well known that most people now look for social proof online before making a decision about where they’ll spend their money.
This is great news for most businesses, as it levels the playing field for smaller companies to compete, even without the huge marketing budgets of their larger competitors. Getting customers to share their positive experience with friends and family is a highly effective way for businesses to spread the word about their products and services.
For a start, stats show half of all Facebook users have more than 200 friends. Even if just 10 of those share content about your business, you’re already getting your brand in front of several thousand more people.
Every post on someone’s Facebook feed saying how great your business is, counts towards improving your online reputation and getting your brand in front of a wider audience. Even better, you can achieve this without making a dent in your advertising budget.
With Facebook focusing on more conversations, imagine the benefits of not just one customer saying how happy they are, but a natural exchange between a group of friends about your product or service.
For example, 10 friends going out for dinner together might well have a conversation praising the menu at your restaurant. This might then turn into a discussion about which of the delicious main courses they’re going to choose.
Using employee advocacy to grow your brand
From an employee perspective, more and more companies are waking up to the fact that their employees are an untapped asset when it comes to sharing messages about their brand. At the end of the day they’re people too, just like your customers.
There are multiple benefits to getting your employees to act as brand advocates. Many employees, especially those who take advantage of employee discounts, are users of your product or services. That makes them customers in their own right, who can endorse your brand just like any other customer.
The extra advantage with this group is that they understand your brand, inside and out. Having this unique insight into your brand's DNA, communicated to the world by those who know it best, makes for an incredibly powerful message.
Employee advocacy gets higher engagement rates
As employees of your company, there’s huge potential in them sharing their experience of your workplace to attract new talent. This has the benefit of raising your profile and reputation as an employer in the area and industry your business operates in. It can also help you reduce your recruitment costs and attract better calibre candidates, which will help increase your staff retention rate.
Plus, the stats for employees sharing content are quite astonishing. Research from LinkedIn shows that content shared by employees gets double the click-through rate than that of their company. And, although only 3% of employees share content, they actually generate 30% of all content engagement for a typical business.
As this LinkedIn article explains, there is actually a science behind this. People are more receptive to content shared by their connections. This is because it comes from a known source who they’re likely to share interests with. By contrast, content shared from a corporate source doesn’t have the same impact. People see it as being more mass market and having less value, so it generates lower engagement.
Experience is the key to endorsement
Before you consider reaching out to either group, the key challenge is making sure your customers and employees feel your brand is worthy of their endorsement. And that comes down to making sure their experience of your company is up to scratch.
Both customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) have been rising higher in the list of priorities businesses need to focus on in order to be successful.
As we’ve said from Day One, it’s no longer enough for companies to pay lip service to these key groups. Both have the power to influence how your target audiences, whether they’re new customers or new recruits, respond to your brand.
The Facebook announcement has just given companies another incentive to get their act in gear and really start to engage with their customers and employees.
The Facebook news feed fightback: the takeaway
So is the Facebook algorithm change really a bad thing? We’d say no, not at all. It’s actually a fantastic opportunity for good companies to grow and expand their customer base even quicker.
Yes, it may make things a bit more difficult for brands in the interim, until they get up to speed with the changes they need to make. But the benefits of encouraging customer and employee advocacy go way beyond just getting a better response on Facebook.
Those companies who focus on delivering a better experience for their customers and their employees, and building up a loyal base of customer and employee advocates, will see a greater return in the long term.