From the Influencers

Employee Advocacy: Becoming the Amazon of Your Industry

August 25, 2017

If you’re wondering how big the influencer phenomenon has gotten, look no further than the world’s largest online retailer,  Amazon launched the beta of its Amazon Influencer Program in March and has now opened up the program more broadly, asking influencers looking to participate to sign up.  The program specifically targets YouTube users – candidates must have a YouTube account to qualify – presumably with high numbers of followers, though Amazon says it also looks at other metrics along with content type.

While Amazon already has its standard affiliate program pushing its seemingly infinite list of products, this is an extension of the program to specifically harness the power of social media and social influencers.  YouTube is a logical venue for the program, given the growing amount of time users spend on the site, watching video after video, and keeping tabs on what their favorite YouTubers have posted.  It’s the second largest social media site based on active users.

Active Social Media Users by Site as of August 2017. Source: Statista

While Amazon is an exception in many aspects, simply because of its scale, it’s actions point towards business success.  While it is already the world’s largest retailer, and though it already has an affiliate program, the opportunity of social influence is too great to ignore.  Every company, regardless of industry or audience should take notice – finding the right social influencers will help grow your business.  The specific influencers – and their individual social clout – will vary based on industry and audience, but in a sharing society dominated by digital services, it’s a necessity. 

Businesses, however, don’t have to look far.  In many cases, some of the best influencers can be found in an employee roster, which is why employee advocacy is growing among other more established social strategies.  While Amazon has the ability to seek the most popular YouTube stars, for instance, most businesses don’t have that luxury – and they can’t afford to pay through the nose for individual mentions from social stars.  Frankly, even if they did, most wouldn’t realize a reasonable ROI.

But, employees are already active on social sites and, if you’ve created an environment where they are happy and believe in the products they are developing, marketing, selling, and even using, chances are they will be more than willing to help promote them.  You just have to ask them.  In most industries, employees simply haven’t given much thought to using their own influence to generate buzz.

While most businesses shouldn’t expect to build an influencer community like Amazon’s, social marketing initiatives – specifically, employee advocacy programs – can help increase awareness, promote brands, and create new customer streams.  The resources are already within your reach, and the benefits, regardless of scale, are real.  You may not be the next Amazon, but you can become dominant in your market.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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