Much is discussed about the importance of brands identifying and engaging with key influencers – the prominent customers and other leaders that stand tall in their respective industries – and turning them into social advocates on behalf of its products and services. And for good reason – their support lends an authenticity to your marketing that is hard to produce otherwise. We so often cast our gaze outward when identifying these influencers, however, that we sometimes forget the most powerful ones may be right in front of us.
Creating brand ambassadors and advocates out of our own employees offers significant upside for brands. After all, as this column recently reminded us, employees are a company’s most valuable and important asset. Beyond that, however, they are often regarded as its most trusted influencers.
At the same time, enabling employees to become brand advocates is not without its risks and potential pitfalls. To ensure employees are not just enabled but empowered to act as social advocates, marketers need to make sure employee advocates:
- Know the rules. Establish an official social media policy for anyone and everyone who may represent the brand in any capacity via social media, and make sure everyone clearly understands it.
- Know the story. It stands to reason that employee advocates should clearly know your brand’s voice and personality to ensure consistency of voice across all communications and touchpoints.
- Know the game plan. Educate employee advocates on your marketing strategy – especially the role social plays in it – so they have objectives and goals in mind when developing content and engaging with audiences.
- Are supported. Creating and/or curating high-quality content that reflects positively on your brand ensures employees are armed with the resources necessary to be consistent, compelling and sustainable in their activity.
The thought of ceding control to employee advocates can understandably make some marketers nervous. Done carefully and with proper planning and preparation, however, turning employees into social story-tellers can be a powerful, long-term marketing tool.