|July 14, 2017|
You must have heard it said that a brand’s employees are among its best ambassadors. If not, we’d like to take a moment to help you out from under your rock, and welcome you to 2017!
Of course a brand’s employees are its greatest potential ambassadors!
No one knows a company like the people who work for it. No one else can speak as knowledgeably about the brand, its character, its goals or what goes on back at HQ when the public isn’t paying attention.
More importantly than all of the above though, social media has given the individual a voice louder than he or she has ever had before.
Ultimately, no marketing strategy or advertising campaign will ever communicate your brand as favourably, or as sincerely, as engaged employees, amplified by social media.
Where, you may ask, do engaged employees come from? If they’re so important, surely there must be a lot of advice available on how to develop them?
Well, we’re glad you asked, because we have a couple of choice pieces of advice for you, starting with:
Make that: communicate your culture AND live it.
No matter how enthusiastic your team might be, they’re not going to do a very good job of representing a corporate philosophy that they feel no connection to.
They also won’t come across as particularly sincere if they’re aping a company culture that only exists in the imagination of its CEO. Without that element of clear sincerity, your brand will not engender the trust that builds loyalty in markets that are increasingly dominated by sceptical millennials.
If you haven’t yet, decide on some hashtags.
Pick a few generic hashtags that relate to your field of business. These give you the opportunity to tap into wider, pre-existing conversations in your industry, establishing your credibility with your target market.
On top of that, you’ll want to push a handful of hashtags that are specific to your company in an effort to get them trending so that you can take advantage of the resultant virality of your brand’s messaging.
Educate your employees on what hashtags your company is using on social media, under what circumstances each tag is to be used and on which platforms.
Social media is all about stories.
Big stories and small stories. Comedies and tragedies.
People love stories. They follow stories and they invest their time and themselves in stories that they deem to be worth following.
Every single person working at your business has at least one story to tell, and some of them might even want to tell it. They might not all relate specifically to your business, but in the social world, that is not entirely necessary.
Sure, it’s unlikely that your Sandton dealership, for example, is manned completely by automotive enthusiasts who build cars in their spare time and are bursting to share their myriad maintenance tricks of the trade. Some things simply are too good to be hoped for.
But maybe one of your mechanics volunteers at the SPCA in his spare time. Maybe your receptionist moonlights as a cage fighter.
Maybe you don’t want all of these stories shared on social media and associated with your brand, but you’ll never know unless you choose to find out.
By now you must have realised that the last thing you should be doing is discouraging social media use in your employees. Don’t block them! And don’t punish them out of hand, if you find them browsing Facebook.
Your employees are the face of your brand. If appropriately engaged they give your business the sense of character and personality that potential customers can relate to, more than your logo or a touched-up photo of your product offering.
If you know your people well and you have clearly communicated your corporate culture in order to guide appropriate messaging, then the risks that come with socially engaged employees can be largely negated.
Even if they are not directly active on your business profiles, the mere association of engaged and passionate employees (AKA real people) can lend your brand a more likeable character that makes the consumer want to engage with it.
Incentives can take many forms.
Whether you’re offering cash, accolades or simply public recognition for a job well done, it is important to make social media attractive for your staff to engage in on your company’s behalf.
Ideally, your people will take the initiative and jump onto the social media bandwagon themselves, but sometimes you need to dangle the carrot to get things moving along.
If you are having trouble coming up with incentives, get to know your people (refer to point 3).
Cash is an easy and always welcome reward, but it’s also lazy and thoughtless. You should know your people enough to have at least surface-deep understanding of what they appreciate and what would be the best way to say, “Good job!”
Social media is still a bit of a frontier field; its exact boundaries are undefined and professional progression within the industry has yet to calcify into anything resembling the predictable paths of more traditional careers. Its specialists are not necessarily those with degrees, in part because those degrees are often obsolete before graduation, due to the fast-changing nature of the industry.
Oftentimes, the top experts in social media are not the ones who went out of their way to pursue that career, but rather those who sort of just discovered a talent and stumbled into it.
For all you know, your business might be housing a social media megastar in the making. All that’s needed to tap that potential is to identify ambition and encourage engagement.
It’s a good idea to upskill your staff, or at least to send select members off for some form of social media marketing training. If nothing else, it will equip them with the tools of the trade and an understanding of the dos and don’ts of the platforms available to them.
One reason that many social media specialists lack a degree in the field is that in the digital age, tech- and data-dependent professions are changing so fast that a curriculum that takes four years to roll out simply cannot keep pace.
Luckily this means there’s a plethora of short courses available, requiring varying degrees of commitment.
Night classes, correspondence, full-time training: whatever your requirements, you can find development program to fit them.
Investing in your employees in this way serves the dual-purpose of encouraging engagement, as well as ensuring that this engagement is tempered by social media best practice.
In short, it enables and empowers brand ambassadorship.
Adobe has done a really great job of implementing and maintaining this.
The Adobe Life blog is contributed to by Adobe employees, all of whom maintain consistency with the tone of the brand in their own postings on the blog. They discuss the goings-on at Adobe, what it’s like to work there, what big things are currently happening, and so forth.
A blog like this serves three very important practical purposes:
• Attracts talent that is interested in the corporate culture and the working environment that your employees communicate.
• Presents a relatable human face to your company’s audience, engendering brand trust.
• The sheer activity of a blog like this makes it an SEO goldmine of links, engagement, interaction and visitors.
Your employees know your brand. They know its pros and its cons. They know what people’s complaints are. They know what people like about you.
Your people are the ones with their boots on the ground on the frontline of your brand’s interactions with its audience. When it comes to the public perception of your company, your employees are almost guaranteed to know more than you do. It is this understanding and the sincerity of communicating with their own words that will make them effective brand ambassadors.
On one hand, it can be nerve-wracking to let your staff communicate freely with messages that will inevitably be associated with your brand. However, on the other hand, you’ll stifle the positive impact your staff might have if you try to force your words out through their mouths.
If you adequately communicate your brand culture and educate your staff on the ins-and-outs of social media, you should be able to take a hands-off approach to their utilisation of that knowledge.
Everyone loves swag. Free stuff motivates like nothing else, and when the free stuff in question has your logo plastered across it, it serves the additional purpose of building brand awareness.
Making customers and clients resemble NASCAR drivers is hardly a new tactic in brand building, but it’s often overlooked that employees, being human, love free stuff as much as anyone else. They’ll love you for filling their lives with assorted goodies and they’ll inadvertently advertise you to family, friends, and random passers-by.
Heck, don’t cheap out on the quality too much, and they’ll probably flood Instagram with enthused pictures of your brand’s awesomeness.
Understand your employees and empower them with marketing savvy, social media freedom, incentivised ambassadorship and swag. Your workforce can double-up as brand evangelists, inadvertently communicating the awesomeness of your company to the world.
For more ideas on how to encourage brand ambassadorship, as well as how to turn you social media marketing into a significant driver of business, contact Wetpaint Advertising today!