Whilst there is certainly a connection between advocacy and influence, it isn't the same thing. As explained in this post, employees have the potential to be so much more than content sharers.
Often organisations launch employee advocacy programs with the sole purpose to extend the reach of brand content. That's normal. After a while the program starts to decline - active users drop, content shares decline, engagement on content falls.
Very quickly organisations realise the complexity that comes with advocacy tools. They're actually much more than just content sharing platforms. They're community building platforms.
When you take a birds-eye view of your social activation program you'll realise the employee social media maturity levels require different approaches.
Different tools fit into different stages of the program.
Training will adapt as employee maturity evolves.
Content needs will change from role to role.
You see, employee influence evolves over time. Some employees won't be socially active at all (although in current Covid19 times I think the level of social maturity will accelerate).
Here's how employees start to adopt social behaviours:
Employees start engaging with others on social media.
Employees then start to share content.
They then get comfortable with commenting on posts.
They may start to write or produce their own content.
They become thought leaders.
They start to create market influence.
Influence isn't about how many followers or connections you have. You cannot fake influence. It's about your authenticity, your credibility and your perspective on your specialist area.
Establishing influence cannot be fast-tracked. It needs to be earned but any employee can achieve this with the right training, tools and content.
What we’re seeing in 2020 is what separates employee advocacy from employee influence. The difference is that while an employee advocate will share your company content, an employee influencer will have a demonstrated investment in the brand, and will want to see it prosper come rain or shine. Transparency and trust are both key qualities that businesses and consumers are looking for in brands right now. As consumer trust weakens, people are seeking out reputable brands with whom they can establish lasting relationships with. People trust people, and people buy from people. Your employees need to be at the center of your communications if you’re to take your brand to the next level.