You only need to scroll through LinkedIn to see some amazing examples of employees acting as genuine ambassadors of their organisations. You may already be a brand ambassador for your own business without giving it a second thought, or you may be in awe of how organisations can inspire their employees to feel and act in this way. If you’re the latter, read on for tips on how to leverage your workforce as employee brand ambassadors.
Employee activism or employee brand ambassadorship is generally manifested by employees talking openly and positively about the brand they work for. This brand evangelism usually results in employees talking about their organisation to everyone around them, both in their professional and personal lives. These brand ambassadors regularly share company content with passion and pride, and without being asked or incentivised to. They will proactively seek out opportunities to speak up on behalf of the brand to endorse its achievements and increase its credibility in a relevant context.
People trust people, so these acts of advocacy are critical to the success of a business as when it comes to building trust. According to AdWeek 76% of people say that they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than content shared by brands. The Nielsen Trust in Advertising Report backs this up, finding that 92% of consumers say they trust ‘earned’ media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
It’s clear that encouraging your workforce to act as brand ambassadors can have a positive impact on brand reputation and credibility. Some companies have it nailed, let’s take IBM as an example. You might think IBM is quite a conservative B2B brand with a workforce of traditional techy types who would be unlikely to embrace social media with a passion for their employer, but you’d be wrong. ‘IBMers’, both current employees and alumni, are encouraged to speak up on their experiences of working for the brand. This employee advocacy led to a wealth of employees speaking passionately about their careers across channels like LinkedIn, which IBM soon capitalised on by weaving these stories into their careers site. This is an excellent example of employees acting as ambassadors as even ex-IBMers proudly celebrate their link to the brand, giving IBM more and more kudos.
But how do you get started if employee advocacy is just simply not the norm in your organisation? Here are a few of our tips to get you started:
It might sound simple, but the best starting point is always to talk to employees about what it means to be an employee brand ambassador. There are of course benefits to the business, but it can be a two-way street. Speaking positively and professionally about your organisation can add to your own profile as an industry expert, it can be a great way for employees to enhance their professional credibility and can increase their network and potentially open them up to future opportunities. Ask employees to speak up and provide them with the tools to do so.
For so many reasons it’s important to engage employees on your brand story. Making sure your team is aligned and informed not only inspires them, but also helps them feel more confident to speak up externally and represent the brand. This engagement should include your purpose, vision and values, and messaging should be clear on where the brand has come from to the exciting plans you have the future.
Regularly share a variety of content that feels comfortable for employees to share in different channels. This could mean you create technical content for experts to share in business focused channels like LinkedIn alongside more fun, cultural content for employees to engage in on channels like Facebook and Instagram. By creating a variety of relevant content, you have a much higher chance of employees sharing it. You can expect particularly well shared content to be celebratory posts, award wins, new openings, or even celebrity photo moments.
Once you’re creating content for your employees, you need to make sure it’s easy for them to find. Use a social media platform like Oktopost or make the most of the employee advocacy tools on LinkedIn to give your employees a library of ready-made content to choose from.
In general, employees will want to be sure they’re following company guidelines. One simple barrier to employee advocacy is employees not being sure what the rules are. Pre-social media, many organisations overtly prevented employees from representing the business externally unless they were media trained or specifically asked to. The legacy of this combined with numerous examples of social media ‘fails’, have left many corporate employees fearing social media. This has resulted in employees being more likely to keep quiet on their social channels when it comes to referring to their employer. Empowering them and reassuring them that it’s okay to be themselves, while providing some light touch guidelines, can help reduce the fear.
It’s the norm now for B2C brands to be inundated with customer service queries that try to bypass call centres and latch on to employees in an attempt to fast track their concerns. This can be another barrier to employees, preventing them from wanting to align themselves publicly to your business. You can overcome this by being proactive on social media customer service enquiries, and by giving practical guidance for employees on how they should manage any issues that come up in their social feeds.
It’s vital to ensure that everyone in the organisation feels empowered. Speaking up and promoting the businesses latest product launch isn’t just the job of the sales and marketing team. Brand ambassadorship can and should come from the whole organization. In fact, the real power comes when employees from a mixture of factory floor, frontline, research and innovation teams, cleaning and facilities management to HR all come together to bring their unique perspectives to the brands reputation and online voice.
And finally, empower employees to become brand ambassadors from their very first day. Employees can act as ambassadors from the outset so tap into your new employee’s enthusiasm by signposting your content and social streams right from the get-go so they can get involved straight away.
If you’re looking for support with kicking off your employee brand ambassador strategy, or need support with creating content that your employees will be excited to share, get in touch to see how we can help.
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