Today, people are looking for 'social proof' and validation from peers around which products and services they might be interested in buying.

In fact in the corporate sales space (SaaS etc) over 68% of the research is done by the prospect before any direct communication with a vendor even takes place, and with 8-10 internal stakeholders involved in that process where do you think they go to learn about what you and your competitors have to offer, certainly not your website?

When you buys a house for example you will expect your solicitor to manage the 'conveyancing' aspect of the purchase - this includes all the relevant due diligence on your behalf in order to avoid any unknown surprises.

Today this is also happening in the B2B space, however the process is being done without you even knowing about it by your next (or not) client(s).

Let's stay focused on the 'people' element of this blog, because that's where there is a hidden treasure trove that, if motivated, trained and unleashed can transform your company in way you have never experienced before.

I recently wrote an article on LinkedIn about the power of personal branding, what it really means, and the immense value to organisations that take time to understand it, learn about it, and take action, you can find it here 'The best Influencer of Your Brand is - YOU!'

For the sake of an example let's do a top line dive into branding and its real purpose (if your a branding person this is no doubt a redundant piece);

So what is a brand strategy? 

Essentially, brand strategies are long-term plans to develop and establish a successful and well-known brand in order to hit particular company goals. 

One of the key elements of a successful brand is its 'personality', and as in real life we remember someones personality before we might even remember their name. 

As such we have an inbuilt filtering mechanism that allows us to quickly determine if Brand A's personality is a better fit to me than Brand B's personality, hence why we all choose different clothes, type of car etc. 

The problem in the world of social media for companies is no one actually talks with a 'corporate' voice, because it's not seen as being authentic.  It's always all about 'you' anyway, and people can smell your advert that's dressed up as 'content' a mile away.

So just how do you benefit from employee advocacy on social media when you fear a lack of control? 

To be honest (this will hurt) to a certain extent you have to learn to let go of some of that control, start to relax the brand police, and look to put trust in the people you have employed to give your company some social 'authenticity'. 

No one will have a greater insight into your brand and company than them, if you allow them to strip away the 'corporate speak and jargon' and talk (via social within an agreed framework) with authenticity you will then start to unleash the most powerful brand marketing opportunity you will have ever seen. 

The good news is that a little bit of what you have always done around brand positioning and control (Brand framework) combined with the scary bit that encourages key employees, especially the leadership team to utilise their voice on social media can in fact 'be managed'.

It takes an 'internally aligned' strategic framework (brand guidelines) around consistency to develop their own personal brand (they ALWAYS represent the company) a proven process & methodology, mentor ship, consistency, and strong leadership from the board room.