Your biggest social media advocates might be hiding in plain sight: your employees.
Compelling content, influencer outreach, and paid media are important elements of any social media strategy. But too often, businesses overlook or undervalue the role of their own people in building brand advocacy through social media.
Your employees should be your biggest fans. Employees live and breathe the brand every day. Businesses should encourage their employees to be advocates. When you encourage your employees to speak on behalf of your brand, you demonstrate trust in them. And doing so is just smart marketing. Employees probably have a larger presence than your business does – most certainly collectively and sometimes even individually if you employ high-profile people who blog actively and post often on their socials.
But many people do not post about their employer on their personal social media pages. Oftentimes, the impediment is not a reluctance to talk about their employers but rather a lack of understanding of the ground rules for doing so. Still others just need to be prompted with compelling content. In either case, the brand itself can encourage social sharing by playing an active role. Employees need education, motivation, and inspiration from the company to be active brand advocates on social media.
Here are some ways to get started.
Listen to Your Staff
The first step to cultivating employees as brand ambassadors is listening to them.
Employees provide a valuable source of social listening. Their input shared on public social sites such as Glassdoor, as well as their own socials, will make you more aware of how they feel about the brand. Moreover, their input on social channels (including internal ones such as Slack) can provide valuable feedback on your products and services. This information should help you gain insight on what to educate your staff on and if there are any problems. You need your people to be happy and satisfied at work, not only to perform well but to also be brand ambassadors.
Educate Your Staff
Employees want and need ground rules for talking about you on social media. Ground rules are more than a list of dos and don’ts. They empower employees by giving them examples of how to (and how not to) discuss your company. Ground rules are especially critical for publicly traded companies, where disclosing the wrong information at the wrong time can put a business at risk for disciplinary action from the government.
So, create a plan for social media – a plan with guidelines – and educate everyone in the company, not just people in HR and Legal.
You might find it useful to involve an outside perspective, such as a social media expert who takes charge of educating your entire staff on social media guidelines, content, and brand storytelling. Outside voices can provide ideas and lessons learned from a wide variety of businesses, not just yours.
Give Your Employees Something to Share
When you share great content with employees, they’ll share it publicly. But you have to share it rather than expect them to find it. For instance:
- Do all your employees know about what you post on your own corporate socials, such as your Facebook and Instagram accounts? Do they know you have accounts and where to find them?
- When an employee achieves something to celebrate, do you let your employees know and link to your own social spaces where you’ve noted the achievement?
- Do you keep your employees abreast of when your company is in the news?
- How well do you share your corporate thought leadership with all your employees, such as blog posts and white papers?
Employees are especially willing to talk up your thought leadership when they realize that sharing your branded content will uplift other employees.
Inspire Your Staff
Employees don’t always have time to be brand ambassadors – until you make the process easy. They sometimes feel like sharing content about your brand is a chore – until you make the process fun.
Making content-sharing easy means getting little things right, such as sharing a short link and hashtag for the information you want people to share, as well as links to your socials in every communication (rather than assuming employees remember where to find your socials).
Making content easy to share also means going so far as to explain why the content matters and the value of sharing it. If you want employees to tweet about a company accomplishment, give them tweet-worthy headlines.
You can also make social sharing fun by giving shout-outs to employees who are active brand ambassadors – and by linking to their socials on your corporate socials when appropriate. In both instances, you’re doing what comes natural in social media: rewarding through recognition.
If you’re inspired to do a better job cultivating your employees as brand ambassadors, I would suggest doing the following;
- Do an audit of your own social media program. Make sure you have your own house in order before you ask your employees to put their socials to work for you.
- Enlist the help of your employees. Consider creating a small team of highly influential employees and ask them for ideas and oversight of a brand ambassador program.
- Create a strategy for how you’ll operate. A strategy should include everything from goals to sources of content and approaches for getting employees involved.
- Have an ongoing mechanism in place to share and get feedback from employees about your program. Learn from them and adjust as you go along.
Developing an employee brand ambassador program can be exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling. When done right, employee brand ambassador programs generate more buzz and excitement for your brand than you could accomplish through your corporate socials. For more insight, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.
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