Four tips to turn your employees into social brand advocates
We’re more than a decade into the era of Facebook, and social media marketing is big business – a $23.7 billion global business, in fact. Organisations are putting their money where their tweets are, but there’s still no substitute for consumers recommending brands purely of their own volition.
Social media has made it far easier for them to do this. Consumers now have a platform through which they can reach an audience of millions. Brands can be rated – or slated – by more people than ever before. Turning consumers into vocal brand advocates is the Holy Grail for many companies – and they're constantly striving to achieve this. But it’s important not to overlook potential supporters right on your doorstep: your employees.
Here are four tips to help you make passionate brand ambassadors out of your workforce.
1. Create the right culture
You can’t force your employees to care – but you can give them reasons to. It all begins with the internal culture of your company. Helena has extolled the virtues of building a brand from the inside out and ensuring that you instill the right values and vision in order to bring your people onto the same page. If your employees enjoy coming to work every day and believe in your brand, then they are more likely to care about its success and want to play an active role in that. It’s not just about trips to the pub or installing a foosball table in the office; it’s about showing your people that they’re truly valued and the work they do has a material impact on the business.
Engaged employees build stronger brands. And communication is key to fostering this engagement. Tell your people how the business is performing; what’s going right and what’s going wrong, from the top of the company down. Transparency from the top conveys that everyone is in the same boat. It enables everyone to share in successes when they arise – and rebound from setbacks together.
2. Educate your employees
Everyone’s use of social media is different. The majority of us might have a Facebook account, but for many that’s as far as it goes. Though Twitter has more than 500 million registered users worldwide, only two thirds actually tweet on a regular basis. Most social media users are yet to create an Instagram account. Don’t assume everyone is an expert.
Even if your employees do use Twitter every day to share their interests and hobbies, it doesn’t mean they know the best way to tweet professional content. It can be a challenge – and many businesses are yet to try and mitigate any risks. A fifth of businesses have disciplined employees for social media misuse, but that’s no surprise when just 40% have established a social media policy.
Education spans beyond teaching what content to share and when. Businesses should make sure employees properly understand what their brand stands for, its values and its position in the market. While it’s important not to enforce too many rules and regulations, ensuring employees have a good knowledge of your brand both on and off social media provides a solid foundation for all that follows.
3. Publish interesting content
Whether you’re an ecommerce operation like Asos or an insurance provider like Allianz, all brands are publishers now. Consumers are smarter than ever and they no longer respond to one-way broadcasts from brands that are transparently self-serving. Businesses know it’s time to engage, entertain and educate – and they’re doing it in their droves; 79.5% of US marketers have a content marketing strategy and that jumps to 85% for UK marketers.
If your business has something interesting to say, your employees are more likely to share it because they will be seen as thought leaders by association. Your employees have their own audiences to entertain on social media – why would they share a dry, corporate ad? Engage your employees to create their own content. At The Frameworks, our blog is a vehicle for all Frameworkers to share their knowledge and insights. It essentially gives us dozens of contributors and ensures our content is always varied and engaging.
4. Trust your employees to respect your brand
Having Frameworkers write blog posts has other benefits. A brand’s employees make the company more human – that’s a valuable commodity in the age of social media. Trust in regular employees is rising faster than it is in company CEOs, according to a recent Edelman Trust Barometer report. Consumers are choosing to place their trust in the people who live and breathe the brand on a daily basis – on the front line.
If your clients and customers trust your employees, then you should too. It can yield some surprisingly positive results. This football inspired tweet from a student – and part-time Asda employee – garnered more engagement and subsequent press attention than any posts from the supermarket chain itself:
Very happy to announce that i've renewed my contract with asda and will continue working weekends for the near future pic.twitter.com/PKOWnWtncT— Andrew Paterson (@AndrewPaterson_) February 27, 2015
There are dangers too, of course. When beleaguered music retailer HMV was forced to cut nearly 200 members of staff in 2013, one of them had access to the company’s Twitter account and “live tweeted” the moment the team was laid off. The incident quickly went viral and the hashtag #hmvxfactorfiring trended on Twitter. When negative situations like this arise, transparency – and not taking yourself too seriously – are important attributes. Though HMV deleted the original rogue tweets, the retailer did some hijacking of its own by appropriating the hashtag. The company’s tweet received a mixed response, but the retailer didn’t shy away from the incident and weathered the storm as a result.
Ultimately, there will be a sizable chunk of your workforce that doesn't want to get involved with or isn’t comfortable representing your brand on social media, for a variety of reasons – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there will be a core group who will be willing – and some might already be doing it.
Leveraging the influence of those that know your brand better than anyone is about more than just gaining some extra followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook. It’s about providing the right environment and training for your employees and giving them a reason to talk about you. Facebook or no Facebook, isn’t that what we should be doing anyway?
Drew no longer works at The Frameworks
- Social media
- Brand value
- Employee engagement