“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first,” says newly appointed Senior Vice President of Retail at Apple Angela Ahrendts.

The more you invest in terms of genuine listening, sharing and engagement, the more likely it is that your relationships will thrive. This has always been true for personal relationships, and more so than ever, for the relationships businesses have with their customers, and particularly with employees.

The 2013 “State of the Global Workplace Report” from Gallup highlights that only 13% of employees are engaged at work. To find out which companies are best at engaging employees, we partnered with Brian Solis, Principal at Altimeter Group, to create a list of the most Socially Engaged Companies by using data of employee engagement on LinkedIn*.

Discover the full list and research conclusions here:

Investing in relationships through social media pays dividends

1. Top socially engaged companies empower their employees to be brand ambassadors

The most socially engaged companies leverage their core values to empower employees to be brand ambassadors. It all begins with authentic, meaningful engagement and content:

  • 54% of engaged employees read content by their company through social media
  • 40% cite their company’s social media communication as the source for keeping informed on important news
  • 38% are more likely to share relevant company content with coworkers and customers when the company shares content in social media.

We also found that within socially engaged companies 50% of executives are more likely to encourage employee use of professional social media. And leaders lead by example – 52% of executives are more likely to actively create and share content.

2. Employees are more engaged and optimistic at top socially engaged companies

Employees of top socially engaged companies are far more optimistic than those of other companies we interviewed: 52% versus 41%. Additionally, 20% of employees are more likely to feel inspired based on how companies use social media to engage with them.

We also learned that social engagement builds pride among teams. 15% of those who are socially engaged are more likely to feel proud about the leadership of their company.

Socially engaged employees are not just connected to those in their own department, they also expand their networks to include other employees, customers, and prospects. 59% use social media to build relationships within the company.

3. Social media engagement contributes to competitive advantage

In addition to amplified engagement, pride, and communication, relationship economics play a notable role in building competitive advantage. From attracting top talent to closing sales deals, socially engaged companies are distancing themselves from conventional companies in their industries.

In a day and time when desirable talent is a precious commodity, socially engaged companies are prospering by holding on to coveted employees and winning over talented prospects. We learned that 20% of socially engaged companies are more likely to retain talent. More so, 58% are more likely to “feel LinkedIn has allowed their company to attract great new talent.”

Of course, we can’t discuss social without bringing out the inevitable question of return on investment (ROI). If you measure ROI by sales leads, we discovered that 57% of employees at socially engaged companies are more likely to “feel LinkedIn has allowed them to get more sales leads.”

Beyond the bottom line

As Brian Solis summarizes in his LinkedIn Influencer post:“When companies invest in relationships with customers, employees, prospects and partners, they reap benefits measured in competitiveness, profitability, loyalty, and advocacy. Beyond the bottom line, organizations also evolve into truly social businesses, where technology becomes an enabler for something of greater purpose, improved communication, connections, and collaboration between people.”

So what are you waiting for?

We designed a playbook specifically for top executives to enable deeper engagement with your customers, employees and peers on LinkedIn. Inspired and validated by the profiles of the most successful leaders on LinkedIn, the Executive Playbook outlines 12 key steps to empower you in your transition into professional social media. Download the Executive Playbook today.

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*Methodology

LinkedIn and Altimeter Group conducted an online survey of two employee groups about their participation on the platform: a “target” (N=1,460) and a “control” (N=1,378) group. The target group respondents were from the top 100 most socially engaged companies on LinkedIn. The control group respondents were from the general user base of employees whose companies are on LinkedIn. Only companies with more than 1,000 employees were surveyed.

The Socially Engaged Companies were defined as those companies with the highest combined scores of Talent Brand Index, Content Marketing Index, Social Selling Index, and Employee Engagement on LinkedIn.