Article

Anita Theis
Anita Theis 29 April 2016

How to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors

Building a social employee culture is about branding from the inside out – a brand first needs to communicate internally before it can communicate externally.

Engaging authentically, building trust, and creating communities of enthusiastic brand ambassadors is the key to creating a functioning employee advocacy program.

I remember many years ago during my Bachelor’s program, I took a course on Imagining, and one phrase really stuck with me “People don't know, what they want”: If you ask them what they want, or how they would change an existing product, they would want it bigger (or smaller, according to Apple's new iPhone 6SE?), faster, or maybe in a different color – but they will always fail to come up with something innovative or revolutionary. However, in the rapidly changing world of today, this general idea does not only apply to the average consumer, but also to businesses and executives, struggling to innovate and to disrupt the market with revolutionary ideas.

According to a Marketo survey, 67% of senior executives believe marketing should be restructured to meet the changing needs of the business, specifically by leveraging social technologies to build trust and advocacy with their customers. But within the social employee revolution, it is about moving beyond of what already exists and activate and leverage a completely new authentic marketing channel: The Social Employee.

Creating a Content & Ideas Hub

Deploying a social advocacy program starts by building an idea hub: creating, commissioning or curating brand-approved content for employees to distribute and to share freely as they see fit through their own social channels and into their own private networks. 

Managing content that should be shared is the next step: Any content providing value can be part of the content mix: industry news, videos, tweets, infographics, blogs, articles and other content relevant to the business or industry can be valuable and is content that should be shared by your employees to grow the brand footprint and to strengthen community ties.

As Social Marketing is about creating conversations, value and engagement, content should be roughly 80% valuable information or insights, and only about 20% about own products or brand.

What is the ROI of Employee Advocacy?

We all work with budgets and we need to defend our investments. 
So what do you actually get out of an employee advocacy program within your company, and how can you argue for a financial investment into a tool helping your employees to spend more time on social media as they already do?

As with many things in life, this question is not that easily answered. Rather than being answered in Dollars, Euros or Pounds, the value of Social Engagement is its cumulative impact. But how can that be measured or put into next quarter’s budget?

It is essential to measure what is actually important - you can measure the amount of clicks and shares obtained through your employee advocacy program and turn those into monetary values - but a successful social employee advocacy program will be felt positively throughout all of your different departments, such as communication, HR, marketing and sales.

With Peer Advocacy being the most powerful tool in social branding, your goal should rather be to determine who is talking about you, what are they saying and how do those conversations affect your organization - now and in the future. Do they lead to more followers, better leads or improved conversions?

Have a look at your employees' activities across their social media networks - which employees are most active, which content generates most engagement and which platform works best for your brand? The value you can get out of your employee advocacy platform can be so much greater than by just attributing a number to it. 
Before calculating the monetary ROI from your program, start by creating Key Performance Indicators that actually make sense for your program, implement performance goals and look at the return on human capital rather than the return on investment. 

Removing Barriers for Sharing

I talk to a lot of companies about Employee Advocacy, and I am still surprised to hear back that there are CMOs out there that "are just not sure on how to force employees to share content to their own private networks". 
A successful employee advocacy program within a company that brands itself on its culture always has brand ambassadors already existent within the company. Indeed, many organizations find that their employees are highly willing to share - yet they are unsure of what to share and how to best share and engage with the company's content. The driving question should therefore never be "Why would our employees want to do that", but "How can we make sharing easier?" 

The right employee advocacy platform plays into your own needs, provides easy sharing options and a tool to improve both your internal communication, as well as social media sharing options. No business operates in a vacuum and no business is just like another - the perfect platform should therefore always be customizable to your own wishes and open for integration with other already existing tools. If you'd like to learn more about how Newsio can help your organization, I'd love to talk to you - just shoot me an email: anita@newsio.com 

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