7 tips to develop your employees as brand ambassadors

Start by empowering the social media stars you have on staff. Make it simple for others to join by curating content, and motivate their participation.

Your employees are often your company’s best storytellers.

The question is: What kinds of stories do they have that are worth telling?

Here are tips and strategies you can use to motivate your staffers to be positively vocal about your brand:

1. Start small with the stars you already have.

Talent consultant Lars Schmidt warns that starting an employee activation initiative with your HR department or upper management can backfire. “Employees may be skeptical if HR or leadership pushes them to act,” he says. “If they see their peers participating, they’ll be more compelled to follow suit, and your initiatives can grow organically and authentically.”

Identify the employees who are already advocates on social media, and start small with them. Once you’ve trained them to use their media social profiles or their dedicated branded profiles, you have your internal leaders who can spearhead a larger program.

2. Make it about personal branding.

The best way to spark brand advocacy within your organization isn’t by offering a financial or physical reward; it’s about personal incentive.

Employee activation should be about empowering your employees to be the best professional version of themselves. Equipping employees to become industry-specific influencers can lift their respective careers, which also benefits your business, as they are your organization’s digital (and real-world) representatives.

Approach brand advocacy as advantageous for both company and employee, and you’ll generate sustainable interest.

3. Teach your employees to fish.

Have a support system in place from the beginning. You don’t have to start out with a social media training academy like Dell or Adobe. However, at least have established guidelines, tips and best practices, and identify social media experts within your organization who can coach their colleagues. This will set the foundation for a successful program.

Strive to consistently create educational content. Use webinars, how-to videos, training sessions or short monthly meetings to reinforce what’s acceptable to share. Also, take time to show employees how to hone their expert voice on various social media platforms.

4. Make social media sharing convenient by providing curated content.

Your employees are more likely to be active ambassadors when you make it easy for them. As part of your employee activation program, share a steady supply of curated content. Include relevant blog posts, videos, industry news and case studies. Then, encourage your advocates to comment on the curated content with their personal take.

5. Encourage participation through incentives.

You won’t maintain a sustainable, meaningful employee advocacy program on incentives alone, but perks or swag can certainly keep people interested. Try weekly contests or giveaways. This type of motivation is more about keeping your employees engaged, informed and interested, so make your contests fun and compelling.

6. Use technology in your favor.

Yes, there’s an app for employee activation. In fact, there are several, including plenty of machine learning algorithms and AI-inspired platforms. Here are seven resources to consider:

  • Dynamic Signal is a useful resource to foster employee sharing. The company’s platform includes the ability to send out real-time notifications and personalized invites. You can also create quizzes, surveys and interactive content to keep your workers engaged.
  • Elevate is a LinkedIn resource geared toward sharing curated content. It’s a built-in feature that’s easy to use.
  • EveryoneSocial is the employee advocacy platform favored by Dell and Adobe. This tool makes it simple for employees to share content on their social networks.
  • Influitive is an advocacy platform used by companies such as Quickbase and MongoDB. The tool’s AdvocateHub motivates advocates to share content, reviews and testimonials online.
  • DrumUp lets you create custom posts and curate content. It also comes with a point system to recognize social media stars and analytics to track activity. DrumUp uses machine learning and natural-language processing to generate relevant content with the curation function.
  • Hootsuite’s Amplify and Bambu from Sprout Social are also popular advocacy platforms.

7. Use your advocates wisely.

Your employees’ social media profiles are potential publicity gold mines, but be judicious regarding how much you ask of your internal advocates.

First, you don’t want to make your ambassadors feel pressured to spend too much time on social media sharing. For them, it should be simple, natural and easy—not just another task to knock off the list. If you ask for too much, you’ll have fewer people interested in joining your voluntary initiative.

Second, and perhaps more important, too much social media sharing will dilute the value and authenticity of employee content. If your employees’ networks are being inundated by similar posts, people are going to start ignoring the content. At some point, it will start seeming like bland brand marketing content rather than authentic insights.

Employee activation can boost trust, engagement and reputation. Leads that are generated from employee social media sharing convert seven times more often than other leads. It can increase sales and establish your brand as a more trustworthy organization. Employee advocacy can even help you attract premium hires to help your business succeed.

Overlooking your employees’ potential can be a fatal error. You’re missing the chance to rake in more leads and burnish your company’s reputation online. You are also missing the opportunity to help your employees grow professionally.

If you haven’t already, start crafting a plan to empower and train your workers to become authentic social media advocates.

Michael Brenner is CEO of Marketing Insider Group. A version of this post first appeared on the Marketing Insider blog.

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