LinkedIn Research Reveals Why Your Employees' Voices Matter on Social

March 15, 2016

Conventional wisdom has always lauded the power of “word of mouth” messaging and the belief that people trust people. Understanding this, more and more companies are investing in employee advocacy programs to help engage their employees’ networks in a more authentic way.

But how powerful is this? How much more engaging is it when employees share content? In order to answer this question we looked to the LinkedIn network to put this theory to the test.

The goal was to learn how click-through rates (CTR) differ when employees share versus when their company shares. We looked for instances where employees had shared the same piece of content that their company had, and compared those click-through rates.

I’m happy to share that what we found supported what everyone intuitively believes — that when employees share content, it’s more engaging than when a company does.

Example of a Company Share:

  • Company Share

Example of a Member Share:

  • Member Share

Specifically, we saw that employees get 2x higher CTRs from their shares compared to company shares of the same content. Essentially, when employees share a piece of content, viewers of that update are clicking twice as often as they do when a company shares the same piece of content. This underscores that the source of content matters, and that both trust and authenticity are key factors when engaging with content online.

Companies of every size benefit when their employees share content, but not everyone benefits equally. In our analysis, we found that the biggest beneficiaries were large, enterprise companies with more than 10,000 employees. For this group of large companies, the median CTR was over 2.4x higher. Companies with less than 10,000 employees still had a considerable boost with CTRs over 1.8x higher than the original company shares.

  • company size

The same benefits hold true when evaluating the data by vertical. We found that Professional Services has the greatest lift in click-through rate (2.4x), while many verticals like Education, Financial Services, and Technology all see more than 2x the CTRs when their employees share company content.

  • vertical

These data points highlight that employees have an increasingly important voice in company conversations. Whether your company is looking to improve content marketing, talent branding, or lead generation, the activity and authenticity of employees can help companies drive meaningful business results. And not only will it help with company engagement, but it also benefits the members by enhancing their professional reputation while driving more profile views and connections.

Both companies and employees benefit when employees share content so it’s no surprise that organizations like Visa, Unilever and CEB are building employee advocacy programs to help achieve their goals around hiring, marketing, and selling.

Here are a couple of quick tips to get started with employee advocacy:

  1. Start small. Identify a cross-functional group of employees who you want to regularly share content.

  2. Educate employees on the benefits of sharing - building their professional reputations and making an impact to the company. Make sure to provide social media guidelines.

  3. Make it easy for employees to share by providing them with relevant content, along with pre-populated comments to include in their posts, in a weekly email digest.

Need additional help? Click here to learn more about LinkedIn Elevate and how you can empower your employees to be social professionals.

Methodological details: The results of this analysis come from analyzing LinkedIn company update and employee share data from July 2015. We evaluated over 2,800 active companies with at least 2,000 employees on LinkedIn. Lift numbers reflect the median difference between the click-through rate (CTR) of employee shares versus the click-through rate (CTR) of company updates.