We’re becoming more and more accustomed to personalized experiences. Our Netflix accounts offer up viewing suggestions specifically for us, and we can retrieve a Coke from the cooler that has our name written right on the bottle.
We’ve gotten so used to experiences and products being tailored to us as individuals that we’re actually starting to demand personalization — even in marketing. In fact, nearly three-quarters of consumers will only engage with personalized marketing messages that have been tailored specifically to them.
So in a bid to solidify authentic connections with personalization-hungry consumers, companies are tapping into new ways of engaging with them. One unexpected avenue? The thought leadership potential of “employee influencers.”
Brands are shifting to become more personal. Meanwhile, people are shifting to become more like brands of their own. Personal branding allows people to turn their own networks into engaged audiences. And if companies can tap into the engaged audiences of their employees, they can drive engagement for the company at large.
When individuals share content from their unique perspective that speaks directly to their specific audience, the content comes across as more relatable, relevant, and trustworthy. In fact, when employees share brand messages on social media, their posts garner 561% more reach than the same messages shared on the company’s social channels — not to mention eight times more engagement. Plus, over half of consumers trust images shared by fellow consumers because they view them as more authentic and trustworthy than content coming from brands.
A big component of the success of employee-created content? Personalization. When employees share about your company, services, and industry with their own micro-audience in mind, they can create content that truly resonates.
Brands like SAP are paving the way for those looking to harness the power of employees’ personal branding. SAP has built an internal culture that encourages employees to frequently create content and share their unique insights with the rest of the industry.
Whether it be publishing industry insights or even sharing case studies from their work, this content is used to organically promote the brand.
One specific format of employee-generated content that stands out is the company’s videos from industry events. SAP empowers team members to create video content about their experiences. Because the company allocates resources like production crews, employees are able to record behind-the-scenes interviews and then distribute this timely content across their own networks.
SAP often repurposes this employee-generated content across its own branded profiles. Here’s an example:
Product Hunt is another brand that has built an engaged audience through the personal brands of its team. Content marketing isn’t a one-person show, after all.
The company encourages each team member to regularly prompt meaningful community discussions or publish valuable blog posts, like this one:
As employee personal branding becomes more of a core content marketing strategy for brands, it’s important to understand how the performance of this channel can be measured over time. Like all digital marketing strategies, optimizing resources for tangible goals is essential.
If you’re eager to integrate employee personal branding into your marketing strategy, here’s how you can tap into UTMs to measure the performance of your efforts.
Custom UTM tags are commonly used to better structure and attribute traffic between distribution channels. These custom tags can be attached to any URL, which will then signal a unique path within your analytics dashboard.
Like all distribution channels, content shared by employees needs to be structured correctly. When team members create or publish content that’s hosted on a company website, it’s important to include a UTM tag to attribute this referral. You can use Google Analytics’ URL builder to create a campaign URL with a UTM.
Your UTM structure will likely vary depending on the size of your company.
If you’re a brand with thousands of employees, tracking the performance of each employee’s referral traffic might be overwhelming. In this case, the best practice would be to create a generic UTM tag that attributes referrals to employee personal branding at large.
In the example above, the UTM tag identifies the source (LinkedIn) that the content has been shared on, the current medium (social), and a relevant campaign name (personal branding).
If all team members use this UTM parameter when distributing content, it will generate a well-structured referral source within your analytics dashboard.
If your company is a smaller organization, however, it’s best to use more specific campaign tags, such as an employee’s name, within the UTM parameter. This will classify which team member the traffic was referred from. In the below example, my name has been included as the campaign name to attribute the referral traffic to me.
When structuring UTM tags by each team member, you can uncover richer insights. For example, if your CEO has an engaged audience, you might find that the quality of traffic is higher, resulting in longer session times, lower bounce rates, and more goal completions. This might lead you to encourage your CEO to share content more often on his or her channels.
Once you’ve properly structured these referral sources, you can glean additional insights by creating custom reports in Google Analytics.
If your brand is leveraging custom goals to measure events like leads, registrations, or conversions, it’s possible to uncover how many of these events can be attributed to traffic generated through employees’ personal brand referrals.
When creating a custom report, start by selecting the custom metrics that you’d like to measure.
Once you’ve mapped out this list, add an acquisition dimension that filters URL paths with the campaign value of “personal-branding” (or the employee’s name, if you’re going that route) from your UTM tag.
Your report will now display how many custom events were triggered as a result of your team’s employee personal branding strategy.
Once you’ve calculated the conversion rates between each stage of your funnel, it’s possible to uncover unique insights that influence your overall brand performance.
For example, if you decide to use a personalized UTM for each employee, you might find that one team member drives a large amount of traffic to your website. But upon closer examination, you might find that this traffic didn’t actually lead to conversions further down the funnel.
Or you might find that another team member drives less traffic in total but that the quality of these sessions generates more conversion events. In this instance, you could analyze the content this team member has distributed and then encourage others to replicate the format in a way that would resonate with their own audiences. It could even make sense to allocate additional resources to this team member, encouraging him or her to create more content and, in turn, drive more value.
Whether you’re a large enterprise or an early-stage startup, utilizing the personal networks of your team members is a powerful way to drive meaningful interactions across your industry. By encouraging employees to join you in your content distribution tactics, you can drive more engagement and more conversions.
Like any effective digital marketing channel, it’s vital to understand the tangible value of your employee personal branding strategy. By utilizing UTMs, you can gain a clear understanding of the overall performance of your employee influencer efforts.
Lachlan Kirkwood is a digital marketing and conversions specialist with a background working across tech startups and digital agencies. He’s responsible for utilizing the latest digital marketing strategies to enhance conversion-based outcomes. Lachlan is a passionate content creator, often sharing his experiences as a digital marketer on his blog.