LinkedIn just announced a new product called Elevate for companies to get their employees engaging in social media on their behalf. It comes in the form of an app that's separate from LinkedIn itself, and actually requires payment from businesses.
The point is that employers can share content with employees, who can then share it to their own personal networks, which are likely to be more in tune with the employee - based on job - than with the business itself. This makes sense for content that's geared toward specific areas of expertise, and this kind of sharing is more effective, based on the findings that LinkedIn shared in its announcement.
According to LinkedIn, the average employee has ten times as many connections as a company has followers. It also says that people are three times more likely to trust company information from employees than from the CEO.
"Lots of professionals share content – like articles, blog posts, and presentations – on social and professional networks to strengthen their professional brands," said LinkedIn's Will Sun. "And lots of companies share content on social and professional networks to attract talent, and market and sell their products and services. But relatively few companies recognize that when they empower their employees to be social professionals, they not only change the trajectory of their employees’ careers, they change the trajectory of their businesses as well."
"For example, when a LinkedIn member shares six pieces of content, on average, they receive six profile views and make two new connections, which helps them strengthen their professional brands," he added. "At the same time, the company they work for receives six job views, three Company Page views, and one Company Page follower, which helps them better hire, market, and sell. Despite that, our research shows that only 2% of employees share content their company has shared on LinkedIn. Yet they drive tremendous value. They’re responsible for about 20% of the overall engagement – clicks, likes, comments, and shares – that content receives. That’s not surprising given employees have 10 times more connections than their company has followers, and people tend to be considered more authentic than companies."
Elevate isn't just about sharing a company's own branded content. It also provides content that can be curated by employees. It includes algorithmic content recommendations from LinkedIn Pulse and Newsle, so employees can share additional relevant content. Of course they can share anything they find on their own as well.
Content can be shared to LinkedIn or Twitter, and eventually additional networks (most likely Facebook). It comes with "intelligent" scheduling capabilities so it can be ensured that the right stuff will be shared at the right time.
Basically, it's a competitor to products from Hootsuite, Salesforce, and others.
Elevate also includes analytics both for employees and companies. Employees can look at how many times the content they've shared has been liked, commented on, and reshared, as well as how many people it reached. Eventually, LinkedIn says they'll also be able to see who viewed their profile and requested to connect as a result of the content they shared. The companies get the same data as well as things like job views, Company Page followers, hires, leads, and sales.
For now, Elevate is available by invitation only, but will be generally available by Q3, at which point, pricing details will reportedly become available. So far, LinkedIn has been piloting the service with a handful of companies including Adobe, Quintiles, and Unilever.
LinkedIn says during the pilot, employees shared six times more often than in the months leading up to it. Quintiles employees received four times more profile views and made two times more connections. Unilever employees drove four times more Company Page views, two times more Company Page followers, and six times more job views.
Corey EdWards, Head of Adobe's Social Business Center of Excellence, talked about the company's experience with Elevate in a guest post at Re/code. He said they invited several product engineers, HR professionals, and sales technicians to use it, and called the interface simple and the content compelling. He also noted that employee sharing on social networks spiked, while views of job openings increased by 80%. He wrote:
One of the biggest perks for employees is building their own personal brand. In one example in this pilot, a product manager in our Australia office promoted a partnership with Fast Company, which shared his tweet, resulting in a slew of new followers and industry influence.
Some brands have shirked encouraging their employees to be more socially active and build personal brands for fear their top talent will be poached. However, in our experience, we’ve found the approach benefits everyone: Employees find an increased sense of pride carving their niche as an expert and acting on behalf of the brand, meanwhile we see the results through improved sales, talent acquisition and customer service.
Elevate has apps for iOS, Android and desktop. You can fill out a form here if you're interested in it.
It sounds like the early results of Elevate have been good, but obviously they're not going to share the less impressive stats. We also don't know how much it's going to cost, and let's face it. LinkedIn is jumping into an area where there are already some established well-liked products. Still, LinkedIn does have the unique advantage of its own established network, which already drives real results for companies.
It will be interesting to see of companies find this product worth paying for. What do you think?
Images via LinkedIn