The phenomenon of social marketing has put an emphasis on brand culture. Businesses utilize digital tools to get employees collaborating and encourage them to be the faces of their brand with concepts like employee advocacy. All of this, theoretically, should lead to engagement. Yet a recent study by Altimeter found that employee engagement in the US is at 30% (13% worldwide). If marketers increasingly believe that social media is central to their business and social companies believe that employee engagement matters, then why is the number still so low?

Employee engagement used to fall under the umbrella of HR departments.  Now it’s a shared responsibility across departments. The problem arises in that different departments have disparate goals. The result is a splintered employee engagement strategy. Without a holistic approach that your employees can comprehend, get behind and ultimately internalize, “engagement” is just a buzzword.  

Employers might think they’ve garnered employee engagement with social marketing strategies like employee advocacy. But often all that means is that employees regurgitate boring brand content onto their networks to satisfy a job requirement. Employee engagement comes from being a true brand advocate. But being a true brand advocate requires the employee to actually be engaged. What a ludicrous cycle.

So what are brands doing? Brands already know that to be competitive, they must elevate the customer journey to an experience that feels unique and relevant to each customer. Well, the same holds true for employees. Employee engagement in itself is a marketing strategy, deserving of the same effort you put towards gaining customers.

When employees love their jobs it’s obvious. Employee engagement doesn’t just affect service; it affects your brand’s image to potential and existing clients, as well as future employees. It affects your bottom line. In the age of social selling, when marketing has been added to the job description of nearly every employee — from employee advocacy to executive blogging — this has never been truer for your brand.

About the Author

DS-M-RussRuss is Co-Founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal, a Silicon Valley software company that provides VoiceStorm, a marketing platform that helps top brands partner with and leverage the social reach and influence of their employees, fans and customers to achieve their branding, marketing and commerce goals. A digital media industry veteran, Russ has more than 15 years' experience in the online marketing world. He co-founded and was CEO of Adify (acquired by Cox for $300M in May 2008), was EVP of Corporate Development at comScore (NASDAQ:SCOR) and was among the first employees at Flycast (acquired by CMGi for $2.3B in January 2000).

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