Brand advocacy is very important when it comes to extending the reach of your business. Thanks to the internet, it is easier to reach out to bloggers, influencers, and would-be brand ambassadors that can help put your brand out there. However, many businesses tend to miss one of the most effective types of brand advocates—their employees.
According to statistics, 92% of online consumers trust recommendations from their social circles. By absorbing brand advocates to your marketing strategy, you are not only expanding your reach; you are also getting more sales by building trust.
However, most businesses underestimate the power of employee brand advocates because they focus too much on maximizing the social reach. In turn, they fail to leverage the credibility of employees when it comes to speaking for the brand.
Why Not Brand Executives?
Why employees instead of managers for brand advocates? Keep in mind that executives have larger stakes in the business. In turn, it is easy to see their opinion as biased especially from a consumer’s point of view. On the other hand, regular rank-and-file employees can directly expose how the organization works from the inside.
According to the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, regular employees are more credible influencers than executives based on a global survey.
Thanks to the power of social media, employee posts give the online audience a “behind the scenes” look at the brand—making them trust the company even more. As a result, the business is then obliged to provide a better work environment for employees. Employees can be more productive, the brand’s image is improved, consumers can have a closer look at the company—everyone wins.
Building Brand Advocates through Employees
Just like building brand advocates through customers, bloggers, and influencers, turning your employees into brand ambassadors is no simple task. It involves several challenges and steps that make the brand both internally and externally.
Below are the main challenges of turning employees into brand advocates and how to overcome them:
Challenge: Not Enough Material to Promote
First of all, remember that the secret to brand advocacy through employees is to provide them with a harmonious work environment. By planning social activities and events, you can nurture a tight-knit community as well as give them more material for social sharing. In doing so, you can show your audience how the team works and therefore increase their expectations for you.
Some examples of significant events are retreats, holiday parties, picnics, and team-building events. Simple dinners and get-togethers also work in generating shareworthy content.
More importantly, your employees will learn how to enjoy working together. Remember that communication within an organization is an essential ingredient for success. With activities that bring your employees closer together, you can give them the sense of accountability and the desire to contribute something positive to the team.
Challenge: Lack of Social Interaction Skills
Apart from telling your employees to share on social media, it should be your priority to train them how to form real connections with the outside world. That means they should also actively participate in the community by answering questions, providing useful information, and nurturing potential leads through social channels.
Keep in mind that employee advocates must be approachable to the audience, thus encouraging them to engage and learn more about the brand. Also remember to determine the best social media networks for finding your target audience and maximizing the appreciation for your employee-generated content. Instagram, for example, is perfect for photos of a company dinner, a Christmas party, and so on.
Challenge: Underutilized Skills
As a business leader, it is your job to get to know your team and learn their strengths and weaknesses. Some of them probably have skills you can leverage such as video editing, writing, Photoshop, and so on. So instead of just asking them to share content, you can also ask them to develop content for the brand as well.
To maximize the results of their brand advocacy, make sure you assign projects to the right individual. For example, you can ask someone who is skilled in video editing to cover the awarding ceremony for your top employees. A photography hobbyist or Photoshop expert, on the other hand, can be left in charge of the team’s photos during team-building activities.
Challenge: Employee Advocates Need Their Brand
Lastly, you should allow your employees to develop their brand and help them build a social following to win the trust of more consumers. For example, you can help one of your employees start his blog and position himself as a thought leader whom the audience can trust. This strategy requires their full involvement with social media projects, thus, may require compensation for their efforts. Just make sure they have the necessary skills to fully engage the audience such as storytelling to content marketing.