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The 500 Club: How an Army of Advocates is Transforming the ICAEW

How do you go about making a step change in B2B Marketing for big organisations with thousands of members?

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is a world leading professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports over 147,000 chartered accountants worldwide. Part of its offering is the Business Advice Service (BAS) to help start ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs be successful. In 2014, it was looking to scale up BAS’s B2B engagement to help its members drive business and raise more brand awareness. Here’s what happened next…

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Activate Advocates

ICAEW’s social media activity was limited but they knew they had a lot of positive brand sentiment in their membership, with partners and associates. It wanted to make the transition to turn these ‘brand fans’ - that may naturally speak positively about ICAEW - into active advocates.

To do this at scale, ICAEW began looking at the advocate marketing space and how they could use their fans in the best way - at scale. McKinsey & Co research states that: “The impact of social media on buying decisions is greater than previously estimated and the pool of the most effective influencers is largely untapped.” It also states that: “Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.” Given this ICAEW thought it seemed to make sense to look at advocate marketing software to help it manage its advocate and social media activity.

See the Qubist technology behind successful employee advocacy programmes  globally

"Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.”

ICAEW adopted the advocate platform software Qubist, which meant they could identify advocates, deliver them content to share on their social media channels each day, and measure their activity. They called their new programme ‘Smarter Business Network’. Advocates enjoyed the new programme as it allowed them access to fresh high-quality content daily and bolster their credentials as thought leaders, while ICAEW gained increased brand awareness as each piece of content shared carried the @ICAEW_BAS handle.

Getting started in employee advocacy? Find out more here.

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Brand Impact

Harpreet Panesar, Marketing Manager, ICAEW, says: “ICAEW’s Business Advice Service required a step change in social media marketing to give us a competitive advantage.

“Smarter Business Network has allowed us to target our greatest members and fans very successfully. We now have more than 500 advocates and have achieved more than 21,000 endorsements directly carrying the @ICAEW_BAS handle. Total brand engagement on endorsements (RTs, shares, clicks, @replies, likes, favourites) has been well beyond our expectations and has now reached over 50,000.

"It has been well beyond our expectations"

“As well as a huge increase in brand awareness, data capture and reaching a new audience, our hard conversion of requests to work with ICAEW chartered accountants has improved significantly.”

Our employees share already - why will an advocacy tech platform help?

Advocate Impact

Claire Georghiades FCA, Director of award-winning Accounts Resource Limited (clients include Dragon Den’s Theo Paphitis) says: “For me, the quality curated content on Smarter Business Network increases user credibility with followers /prospective customers, and therefore has the following effects:

  • Increased engagement on all social media posts 

  • Increased Klout rating (my rating has gone up from 56 to 60 since I joined Smarter Business Network) 

  • Increased brand awareness 

  • Increased website visits 

  • Increased number of enquiries 

  • Increased number of sales 

“So, a very useful service! It is really good for me because it is raising the profile of ICAEW BAS, of which I am a member, and through this I know other accountants will benefit even if they are not Smarter Business Network members.”

See 'Employee Advocacy Programmes: What data do we get to measure progress?'

Word of mouth marketing

The ICAEW example demonstrates the power of word-of-mouth marketing. As Mark Zuckerburg, CEO, Facebook says: “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

"A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

By using advocate marketing ICAEW has been able to switch on word-of-mouth marketing using software that allows advocates to share brand messages on social media to their friends, family and colleagues easily and frequently. In real terms, its advocate marketing programme has led to significantly higher ROI than the traditional advertising equivalent.

Once you have even a handful of advocates in a programme brands are able to see a significant difference in positive brand mentions. More than this, advocates are sharing to their own network who trust them and their opinions, so it’s a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing. In 2017, this programme continues to go from strength to strength and has delivered huge brand awareness, customer loyalty and new business opportunities.

Could your brand be the next 500 club?

At Qube Media we work with brands across the globe to find new ways to engage with customers and employees driving brand success and ROI.

The Qubist employee advocacy platform and proprietary Advocate Experience Management methodology allows global brands and businesses to quickly scale measurable word-of-mouth and achieve sustainable results.

Learn more about Qubist: Request a demo today



Interested in learning what the Qubist platform and our Advocate Experience Management methodology can do for your brand? Get in contact and request a demo today.




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Mark Henshall
Mark Henshall
Mark is our Head of Content. He is an award-winning content strategist, travel writer and editor with more than 15 years’ experience in travel. Mark has a very rounded and integrated approach that combines his expertise in editorial and content (confident handling large and complex ventures) with his experience in online PR, SEO, social, conversion, UX and PPC for headline clients.

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