Your employees are your most valuable asset, and they can really boost your brand if you motivate and encourage them to become strong supporters.
When it comes to recruiting brand advocates, companies mostly focus on their customers believing that they’re the only relevant audience. That’s undoubtedly true because 90% of people trust recommendations from friends and family when it comes to making a purchasing decision, while 70% of people trust online customer reviews.
Yet content shared by employees generates 8 times more engagement than content shared on brand channels, so it would be wrong to underestimate the power of leveraging your employees as your brand ambassadors and not tapping into that marketing opportunity.
Let’s see how to do that.
Communicate Your Vision
It’s essential that your employees are on the same page with you.
That means they should be clear on what your vision, mission, and core values are so that they can understand the message you want to spread and articulate it properly on their social media and other channels.
To put it simply – your employees should be able to explain “who we are” and “what we do” easily, consistently, and from the same perspective.
This can be challenging given that only 41% of employees know what differentiates their company’s brand from their competitors.
Create and Share Brand Guidelines
Back in 2012, Microsoft launched its Surface tablet, and got many celebrities on board to promote it. Oprah Winfrey was one of them, and she was quick to tweet how much she loved the gadget and listed it as one of her favorite things.
Unfortunately, the tweet was sent from an iPad.
In order to prevent such a faux pas, and keep your reputation intact, it’s crucial for your employees to know what kind of information and details they are allowed to share publicly as well as what kind of voice and tone they should use.
While it’s OK to encourage them to add their personal touch to the content and announcements they share with their networks, it’s still important to instruct them about what kind of narrative shouldn’t be used.
For example, you don’t want your employees to use inappropriate language, or express their political or social opinions that may just alienate people and have nothing to do with your company.
Make Your Employees Happy
It takes happy employees to promote your brand effectively.
This means that you can’t expect a group of disgruntled, tired, and frustrated people to share positive experiences and put in a good word for you.
In order to turn your employees into your trusted allies, it’s important to make sure that they’re satisfied and happy, and here’s how you can do that.
Recognize their efforts and achievements. Thirty-six percent of employees say that the lack of recognition is their top reason for quitting, while the same culprit is what makes 69% of American workers demotivated. These stats speak volumes about the importance of telling your employees how you value their work and thanking them for their contribution. Always take an opportunity to publicly acknowledge employee achievements and wins.
Encourage a sense of team spirit. Your employees can be happy and dedicated only if the atmosphere in the workplace is healthy and stimulating. Help your employees to connect with their co-workers and develop good relationships with them. An after-work round of drinks at a nearby pub, or having an occasional work picnic are great ways to start. But if you really want your employees to become workmates, organize team-building events such as spending a couple of days at the seaside, in the mountains, or in an interesting city. Hire a reliable destination management company to make everything run smoothly. The point is to mix work and fun and create some pleasant memories together.
Promote a healthy work-life balance. Treat your employees as human beings and not as robots who should be ready and willing to work around the clock. Encourage them to relax and disconnect from work – don’t call them outside their working hours, allow a flexible schedule whenever possible, and give them the time to rest and recharge. This will not only boost their productivity but also cement your reputation as a good employer, all of which will have an extremely positive impact on your overall branding efforts.
Get Employees Invested
Internal branding plays an important role in the process.
Just like you’re trying to convince your customers that your brand message is genuine and authentic, you should put your money where your mouth is when it comes to selling your employees on your branding goals.
In other words, your employees shouldn’t only keep the brand promise, but also live it.
It pays to get them excited about the brand and its products so that they can share that same zest.
It’s also important to ask for their feedback and input. Include your employees in the decision-making process and help them feel responsible for the development of the brand and its growth.
It’s always a good to incentivize your employees by offering them something in return for being successful brand ambassadors.
Take a cue from Apple – their employees get an annual discount of 25% when they purchase an iPad or a Mac, so it’s a win-win situation as they get a chance to buy a cool, otherwise expensive gadget at a lower price and the company gets a loyal Apple fan/employee.
Merch can also be a great addition to this, but only if it’s well-designed and useful. Attractive T-shirts, handy flash drives, powerful external chargers, or anything else with your brand name and colors on it will be great. Your employees will gladly wear and use it, at the same time subtly promoting your brand and serving as walking advertisements.
Before turning to your customers or hiring an influencer, you should start a brand ambassadorship program in your own yard and motivate and train your employees to spread the word and engage in brand advocacy.
Just bear in mind that if you want this approach to work, your employees need to genuinely believe in what they’re promoting. If they’re coerced into doing that, it will come off as unnatural and inauthentic, all of which can only ruin your reputation.