" Employee Advocacy" for SEO, maybe not for everybody

One of our client (a B2B company that sells ~50K+ products and services to VPs of Sales in the US) told me  recently  that they were deploying an Employee Advocacy program with an objective (not the only one though) to  improve their SEO and get found on Google more easily.

I see more and more marketers with similar programs and even vendors/agencies promoting this:



Although I understand the rationale, I’d like to share with you the potential devastating side effects this approach can have in industries where trust and relations are core to the business.

One of the key asset of such businesses is the Social Graph of its employees, starting with the employees who are representing the company to the outside world: Execs, Evangelists and  Sales People.

These people have to develop their network and engage in conversations with clients, prospects, influencers, prospective employees…, sharing their own ideas and yes, from time to time sharing corporate content.

Although SEO rankings are important, the ultimate goal is the positive perception of the brand from clients, stakeholders and prospective clients.

The  Employee’s network (size and quality) is what should be measured:

  • Are your employees connected to the right people?
  • Are their engaging enough with quality conversations with these people?
  • Are your thought leaders influencing the right audience?

And networking is a very “Human” process:

As a user, when I have the slim doubt about whether my “friend” on Twitter or my connection on Linkedin is  just a robot or a “vehicle” for his/her company, I basically shut him/her off.

Worse, if I see many sales rep from the same company publishing the exact same content at the same time, I feel cheated…i’ve seen it so often and have no doubt it translates into a poor brand perception from potential buyers.

The message it sends is that the company, for whom you may be a very valuable client, the same company that promises to deliver a customized, tailored and personalized service, is viewing the time spent with you in social as a cost, not as an asset. #Fail

This is particularly important in industries (like Private banking) where the banks are losing businesses to robot advisors. The last thing a bank should do in this context is to “robotize” its employees, telling them to publish (or sending for them)  pre-approved content polished by a PR agency.

The more personal and authentic you can be, the better.

And guess what, the more personal you are, the lower the chance to infringe regulations.

It’s perfectly fine to FINRA that a Relationship Manager tweets that the Warriors will win the NBA title ! and it is a sign of pretty good judgment. And if I RT and got an invite for the next game, then, hum…  this could  be the beginning of something.

In these industries, the idea of using employees to share as much branded content as possible is “screwing sales to make marketing numbers”.

It is a very dangerous gamble.

What we recommend is that Sales People, Thought leaders and Evangelists activity in social match the following pattern:

  • 50% minimum engaging in conversations of their customers and prospects (help, kudos, talking about pets, food, sports, life, events).
  • 25% sharing their own opinions
  • 15%  curating influencers, media and news outlet content (this can come from marketing)
  • 10% sharing brand content

Only by staying within these boundaries can the sales rep really create new relations and nurture existing ones.
And above all, this should be FUN !


PS: I had the chance to meet a great entrepreneur who told me S&M was standing for Sales and Marketing, hence I could not resist the picture.

Photo credit: Chefzwerg via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
















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