Is Integrated Advocacy the Future of Social Business? with Tim Williams

Is Integrated Advocacy the Future of Social Business?

Tim Williams, CEO of Onalytica, joined us at DigiConf to share his expertise on using integrated advocacy to drive forward B2B marketing. Onalytica is an award-winning influencer marketing software platform that connects brands with topical influencer communities and helps them to scale and structure influencer programs globally.

What is Integrated Advocacy?

65% of brands reported an increase in brand recognition through employee advocacy.

92% of customers trust recommendations from people over branded content.

Wherever you look, you’ll find statistics that indicate your target audience is using social media to make informed decisions on which brands they should buy from. You’ll also find evidence that both employee advocacy and influencer content is gaining the most engagement. Why? Because people trust people over brands.

Employee content combined with influencer content – or integrated advocacy – can drive conversions at a higher rate than traditional marketing. It can also help brands to increase awareness, credibility and trust.

What is the Impact of COVID-19?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, social media usage has sky-rocketed, pushing even more importance onto the digital relationship.

The digital evolution that had already begun has been accelerated more than we could have known. And the tone purveyed across social and digital content has changed too.

We’ve seen:  

  • A switch to more people-centred content
  • More empathy with audiences
  • Supportive language and tone

The source of these messages has changed too, coming from employees, customers and influential experts rather than a faceless logo. Brands have been creating real content from within.

The Impact of Integrated Advocacy

The impact of COVID-19 has further demonstrated that audiences tend to trust their peers more than brands and prefer authentic content over staged or overly-branded content.

In order to tap into this audience, we need to lean into integrated advocacy. To implement this, begin by looking at the who, how and why:

  • Who? Link your employees with external influencers
  • How? Create relevant content. Some examples that we’ve seen work include LinkedIn Live videos, video interviews and integrating influencer quotes into blogs
  • Why? This leads to better quality content, access to a larger audience, and beats the algorithms.

What does ‘beat the algorithms’ mean? When content gets shared, it travels through a mixture of social sharing, and then it gets shared on ‘dark social’ – this is engagement that can’t be tracked, such as messaging, email, or conversation. This means that the content is then travelling offline to target accounts.

Tips to Getting Started

Tim concluded his session on these three simple tips on getting started with your integrated advocacy.

Step 1: Influencer identification

  • Who are they? Who is active on LinkedIn and Twitter? And who is engaging externally?

Step 2: Connect employees and influencers

  • Try to match employee personas with influencer personas

Step 3: Influencer-led advocacy at scale

  • Tim advises a tiered approach to scaling your advocacy and reaching a wider audience, this may include paying some professional influencers to get involved, as well as reaching out to industry experts and industry communities:

Influencer-led Advocacy at scale

To hear more from our expert speakers, click here to view our other DigiConf sessions.