• Social Media—The Employee as Advocate and Ambassador

    i-love-my-job-600x399Employees are often referred to as a company’s best asset. Leveraging this asset to promote your business, assumes that your workforce feels positive about your brand and believes in the product and services you are selling. That’s why their opinions and attitudes are trusted far more than corporate messaging. Their preferences are transparent, and considered more credible by their social connections. Consider these 5 tips to cultivate employee advocates and brand champions.

    1. Keep the conversations fresh and up-to-date

    Have you ever attended a business meeting where crisp, relevant information about the enterprise was flowing freely? The leader’s confident, and transparent demeanor conveyed a “we’re all in this together” vibe. Employees were intrigued and on board, examining a wider view of the issues that impact the business, and their work lives. The energized conversation about potential obstacles, ideas and solutions felt more elevated in depth and scope. The entire communication not only informed, but inspired.

    Passionate leaders, and healthy corporate cultures are recognized for this sort of collaborative communication model. It is the stuff that entices your team to engage with friends and family as champions for your brand. Connect, communicate, and listen, using a variety of technologies and mediums. There is rich insight and intelligence to be gleaned from these interactions.

    Jay Baer, author of the bestselling book, Youtility, tweeted this recently, “If your employees aren’t your biggest fans, you have bigger problems than social media.”

    Employee satisfaction and engagement programs are not new. But marketing models have changed and paradigms have shifted. In 2015 and beyond, the rationale for motivating employee advocacy in your business has expanded implications and opportunities.

    2. Embrace social media marketing, and engage your employees

    Marketing leaders have fully acknowledged that their employee’s social presence can be an effective platform for reaching their target customer and driving brand awareness.

    Social Media Marketing experts attribute substantial benefits to a robust social media presence. The more compelling expectations are: increased website traffic, better search engine rankings, and improved customer insights and experiences.

    Employee advocacy is the next social media mega trend. Your competitors are investing their energy in this direction, and so should you. Think of it as ‘word of mouth marketing’, delivered across a variety of digital platforms.

    3. Nurture an environment of trust

    I know….easier said than done. Moving from a place where only the PR professionals and Marketing leads can share broadly, across public forums to, “Hey guys, take a look at my company’s new widget—awesome, isn’t it? I just love working here!” — is quite a leap. That’s not exactly how it will play out, but to many executives, it’s a quantum leap.

    Employees will need to feel empowered and trusted to promote content within their networks. It’s interesting to note that when companies give ‘permission’ in this manner, it fosters mutual trust and sends a message that the employee is a vital and valued participant in the strategic equation. Engagement will intensify and employees will be more inclined to talk about their company favorably, because they have been trusted as brand advocates.

    4. Provide timely and interesting content

    Interesting content that educates and informs will build brand loyalty with customers, and your employees are motivated in the same fashion. Articles should include visuals such as graphics, photos or videos.

    If you don’t have the resources to install employee engagement software programs, utilize your own business Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog or other social platforms to their fullest potential. Expend your energies on those networks where your target demographic is spending their time. Invite your employees to Like and Follow your pages, and share content with their colleagues and friends. This is great news for a small business or start-up that needs to build brand awareness in their market. Social Media marketing should be a key strategy for the entrepreneur with a limited marketing budget.

    5. Find in-house influencers, and let the momentum grow from the ground up.

    First….encourage your employees to share company content. There are a few other key steps to take, particularly, making sure to clarify your company’s Social Media Guidelines and rules of engagement. I’ll tackle that in a future post.

    Manage your expectations in terms of the level of activity and timeframe for getting your employees involved. Start with a core team of influencers who will encourage participation, organically, across the organization. Assign coaches to receive questions and mentor through the logistics and philosophy of your employee advocacy efforts. Begin measuring the level of engagement, and feed the data and information back to your employees.

    The diverse skillsets and perspectives represented by your employees should be acknowledged as the valuable asset that they are. The momentum and energy that emanates from a cross functional and committed team, has the potential to kick -start a new social media marketing effort, or richly enhance an existing one.

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