When an organization operates in the competitive world of consulting – where brand is a critical differentiator – it can be tough to stand out as a thought leader and sustain engagement with prospects.
This was one of the greatest challenges business and technology consultancy West Monroe faced daily: Reaching and nurturing current and potential customers effectively.
While some organizations stick to traditional marketing channels to generate brand awareness and qualified leads, West Monroe decided to look to its employees to build a name for itself. With Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social, their team successfully increased their footprint on social while simultaneously empowering employees with the opportunity to position themselves as thought leaders in the industry. These efforts helped West Monroe amplify their brand message, stay top of mind and build new relationships that would have otherwise been inaccessible through traditional marketing channels.
Gaining Trust Through the Business of Expertise
West Monroe consists of consultants and practitioners who not only understand business objectives, but are also deep technologists who can help achieve those objectives. The 15-year-old firm identifies its core difference as, “the team’s ability to blend business acumen with technical expertise.” It’s one thing to say you’re an expert, but in the highly competitive consulting field, you have to prove it – day in and day out.
Using Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform, West Monroe curates content relevant to each of its core industries (such as healthcare, banks and utilities) for its employees to share on their social channels and build their personal brand. This consistent curation of relevant, authoritative content positions West Monroe’s consultants as trusted experts in their respective fields, in turn amplifying the firm’s brand awareness with an engaged and receptive audience.
With employees systematically building their personal brand and domain expertise through Employee Advocacy, they are effectively cementing a holistic social strategy that is reliable and trustworthy.
In addition to building its reputation as trusted experts in the industry, this practice of thought leadership has produced tangible business results for West Monroe.
We’re seeing that visitors from Employee Advocacy shares are more engaged with our brand.Laura Older
Digital Marketing Specialist, West Monroe Partners
“They stay twice as long on our website and are twice as likely to convert – which make sense because these visitors come to our site via a trusted connection, and are therefore more likely to be genuinely interested in the content.”
Creating a Tailored Experience
Personalization is key when empowering employees with content to build their personal brand. They need to have a choice in what they share and how they share it on social media so that it reflects their true voice. This considerate approach to fostering thought-leadership was of the utmost importance to West Monroe.
Before Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform, West Monroe’s marketing team simply sent out emails to employees asking them to share relevant stories. Now, the team is able to curate the most impactful stories, suggest accompanying messaging and provide images all in one centralized platform.
“The launch of Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social has really helped streamline our process and created a foolproof way for our employees to share our content,” says Older.
But not only is thought leadership content easier to share through the platform, it’s also more personalized.
“We wanted to make sure that the content employees see inside Employee Advocacy is super relevant and useful to them and their audience,” notes Older. “So each person has a tailored experience when they log in, and can only see content on topics they’ve selected.” This level of personalization gives the employees control over their personal brand and how they want to build it.
To do this, the marketing team developed an employee survey and posted it as an internal story. Employees indicate which topics are of most interest to them and to their social audiences, and then receive only content that falls within their indicated topics of interest. The internal survey can also be updated at any time in case an employee changes his/her mind.
Another Employee Advocacy feature that West Monroe has found particularly useful in improving the user experience is the “Suggest a Story” function.
“We’ve seen a growing interest in outside content that isn’t necessarily published by West Monroe, but is still newsworthy,” says Older. “If employees see an article from a third-party site they think may be particularly interesting or informative, they can use the Suggest a Story feature. It’s really helped diversify the content and give employees more involvement in the curation process.”
As a team that prioritizes data-driven decisions supported with metrics, West Monroe tracks shares by practice and recognizes their top Employee Advocacy users.
“Our practice leaders know at any given time how much their team is sharing on Employee Advocacy through quarterly scorecards and leaderboards. This sort of transparency has created not only accountability, but a sense of competition.”
Leading by Example
West Monroe credits much of its success in the implementation of the Employee Advocacy platform to its executive leadership team.
“Kevin McCarty, our CEO, has always been very excited about Employee Advocacy and was very much involved from the beginning.” Older says. “I think that really played an important role in getting others on board with it.”
McCarty championed Employee Advocacy from the outset, sending out an email personally endorsing it and later starring in an instructional intro video for West Monroe employees. The marketing team also set up one-on-one meetings with every executive leader to personally train him or her on the platform’s uses and benefits.
“Internally, we use the phrase ‘lead by example’ quite a bit. We knew how important it was to start at the top, and let the excitement and inspiration trickle down,” says Older. “Once employees saw members of the executive team sharing, they started to think, ‘maybe I should too.’”
This top-down strategy proved to be extremely successful for the firm, as it now boasts a sizable 400 active users in the platform.
“Oh, the employees love it. People get excited when they see the results of sharing to their networks. They love seeing more LinkedIn profile views, retweets, increased followers, etc. It’s great when you can actually see your efforts paying off.”
And pay off they do. West Monroe’s social media traffic in Q1 is up 123% YoY, with half of that traffic coming from Employee Advocacy shares. Employees have also reported a marked change in company perception since they began sharing.
“Kevin is always talking about ‘building a bigger business card,’” says Older. “And you don’t fully know what that means until you hear someone balk at the size of your company because of all the great content being shared on social. We have Employee Advocacy to thank for that.”