There are many ways to create influence for your business. Whether it’s offering an amazing product or implementing a PR strategy, the opportunities are endless. However, there’s one tool your business might be overlooking: The power of employee brand advocates.
Your employees have an incredible opportunity to increase your brand’s reach. Whenever they speak positively about your business, offer recommendations or create engagement through different social channels, they’re supporting your brand. In fact, research shows brand messages are re-shared 24x more frequently when distributed by employees.
Employee brand advocates have the ability to boost your company’s reputation, which means more opportunities to attract clients, customers and irreplaceable talent. Ready to transform your employees into your best advocates? Here are some ways to get started:
1. Create a planned onboarding strategy.
Transforming employees into brand advocates starts with grabbing their attention the moment they’re hired. According to a Forbes article by James Kelly, U.S. brand leader at PwC LLP, the strength of a company’s brand is greatly influenced by the values and behaviors of its employees. Kelly also explained that it’s crucial for employee evangelists to be an essential part of your overall branding strategy.
Design an onboarding strategy that teaches employees about your organization’s mission, goals and communicates their value as a member of your team. Incorporate tools such as ongoing training, classes, certifications or professional development workshops into your onboarding program.
2. Clearly communicate your company culture.
Before employees can promote your business, they need to understand the company as a whole. In addition to onboarding, provide new hires with one-on-one meetings with different leaders throughout the organization where they can receive an overview of company policies, goals and communication procedures.
3. Encourage employees to be active on social media.
A 2014 study by Weber Shandwick found 50% of employees post photos, messages or videos about their employers. Establish a social media policy encouraging employees to tell a story about your organization through their perspective. Provide them with social media messaging and ideas for photo opportunities.
4. Give employees opportunities to be advocates.
Social media is just one of the many tools employees can use to advocate for your organization. Encourage employees to volunteer in the community and attend events that can help boost exposure for your business. For example, send employees to networking events such as the Chamber’s Business Exchange Luncheon where they can connect with the local business community.
5. Reward employees for their hard work.
Don’t let your employees’ brand advocacy go unnoticed. When an employee lands a client because of their advocacy, reward them for their hard work. Whether it’s recognizing them in front of the entire company, through a congratulatory email or giving them a gift card, make sure you recognize employees in an impactful way.
Remember, your employees are your company’s brand. Whenever they post a photo on social media or tell a friend about work, they’re contributing to the overall reputation of your organization. By harnessing the power of employee brand advocates in your marketing strategy, you’ll expand your reach and establish trust with more customers.
This article was first published in the July 2015 issue of the Chamber News, written by Olivia Adams, Communications and Social Media Specialist at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. For more thought leadership like this, visit www.grandrapids.org/business-advice.