Canadian-based real estate giant Colliers is using Hootsuite tool Amplify to help employees create and share useful content for customers, improving engagement online and promoting employee advocacy.
The company estimates that since it started using Amplify, it has seen a 229% year-over-year increase in social media impressions. Furthermore, the subsidiary that trialled the tool claims that during the same timeframe some 9.5 million people were reached - a 43% increase.
Colliers also saw a huge jump in third-party sharing of employee-made posts - over 4,700 - and a big increase in the number of downloads and views of both its market research reports and thought leadership articles.
Finally, it also attributes its website being consistently ranked as the best website for commercial real estate in Canada - which Colliers' internal marketing team says is proof of the power of this tech-boosted social advocacy.
A global plan for social and digital media channels
Raveena Dhindsa, the company’s Vancouver-based Global Director for Digital Strategy and Marketing Technology, says:
We are often supplying pre-crafted content to help our people become more active on social media - to share better content, get more context, get more leads - which ultimately helps us raise our profile as a business via targeted employee advocacy.
We were also able to build and manage our global plan much better across both our social and our digital media channels.
When Dhindsa says ‘pre-crafted,’ a lot of this content creation work is automated - although not yet using AI (although this is changing).
Instead, professional-looking posts get templated up for non-Marketing specialist employees by Amplify, including picture options, which can be shared on the employee’s social networks in a few clicks.
Colliers had been a user of several Hootsuite products for a number of years, such as the vendor’s professional services, and its partner ZeroFOX’s social media security functionality.
This usage culminated in it eventually becoming a Hootsuite Enterprise platform user, she says.
However, for Dhindsa, it’s Amplify that really turned the corner on optimizing employee advocacy, which had been identified internally as a potential driver for more business.
The decision was made to test the potential of Amplify in one target area with one identified cohort of users, the 600-strong Vancouver Colliers ‘broker’ (real estate agent) team.
We had a lot of employees wanting to build their own brand and online presence, but they told us they didn't know where to start, or where to find good content to share that they knew their clients would find useful.
Colliers is active in 66 countries, and has 18,000 employees. The firm reports annual revenues of $4.5 billion and $98 billion of assets under management, with its range of commercial real estate clients buying property management, project management, engineering and design, appraisal and valuation, corporate and workplace solutions, loan servicing, and research services.
Dhindsa says that in a B2B context like this, empowering employees to share personal but also brand-safe content to ‘amplify’ the company’s voice is proving useful.
It also helps the team leverage social for their own networking purposes and boost their individual efforts at social selling, she adds.
We wanted to leverage the power of social media by helping our own employees help tell the Colliers’ story - but we are speaking about a group of people who love picking up the phone and speaking with people that way, so it was going to be a bit of a challenge get them to transfer that skillset to online.
However, a good chunk of them wanted to do that as they saw the value of being more present on social.
A global rollout
In terms of timeline, the first moves to add this element of Hootsuite into daily use kicked off in 2019. She says:
We started with a pilot launch in the Vancouver office, then as that started to show success we did a road show across the country, going to different cities and actively presenting and promoting the product in-house with the marketing teams and bringing everybody on board with social employee advocacy.
Given that 2019 dateline, it’s no surprise that use of the tool sharply accelerated during COVID-19 and Canada’s lockdown period. Dhindsa agrees:
Everybody turned online to up their game during that time, and for sure it encouraged our brokers to use it more often as they wanted to stay connected into their networks.
Canada’s trial was so successful that the use of Amplify has been rolled out to almost all Colliers’ global operating divisions, she says, with its Polish, Netherlands and UK teams completing their onboarding imminently.
And although the use of AI has not been a big part of this content creation, Colliers sees great potential in a new Hootsuite offering, OwlyWriter AI, which makes post creation even slicker, according to Dhindsa.
However, she stresses, the human element of employee advocacy at Colliers is not going away any time soon. She adds:
I do feel that there's still some nuances that AI is not picking up. We all have a different flow to how we speak and how we write, and I don't think AI can pick up on that yet - though that may well come with time, of course.
But has all this led to more profit for the company? Dhindsa is careful in answering. She says:
I think with any business comparing offline to online is tricky, especially in our area of business where the lead time is so long, so it’s hard to pinpoint direct sales from all this.
What we are very certain of, though, is we are seeing a lot more engagement from clients, there's definitely more leads coming in, more people are engaging with the content that we're sharing.
Our next step is helping the brokers continue to build a profile so that when someone is searching for a Colliers’ service they are going to come to someone that they feel knows what they're talking about and who the customer can see as a genuine expert in that field.
Summing up her experience, Dhindsa says:
Our goal was to showcase our top talent and their client success stories, which then would attract other clients, additional talent and showcase that Colliers is a great place to work - that our people are the best to work with.
And I think we’ve managed to do all of that - and more.