Influencer marketing is a powerful promotional tool for brands – likely the most powerful available. And brand ambassadors enhance that potential, by sharing your messaging without sounding promotional. But are you missing out on another influencer category? One that could be the most valuable option at your disposal? If you aren’t including your employees on your brand ambassador list, that answer is “Yes!”
This new section of our expanded Complete How-To Guide: Social Analytics explains why these social ambassadors are so powerful – and how to ensure their contributions help (and don’t hurt) your brand. Because if you do it wrong, it can be harmful.
What Makes Employees Such a Valuable Social Asset?
Do you really need to deputize your employees as social ambassadors if you have a marketing team in place, and/or paid influencers already engaging on your behalf? Here’s a better question to ask: Why turn down a free (or very low cost) extension of your marketing team when it’s available to you? And one that understands your key messaging – or should
Social marketing is one of the most economical options available to brands of all sizes – particularly because enthusiastic fans will share their passion for your brand on social, even without you asking.
And considering how often people gripe about their jobs, what does it say about your brand if your own employees are singing your praises? And the human touch your employees provide, combined with the additional audiences they put you in front of, make employee ambassadors an absolutely worthwhile investment!
G2 Crowd Learning Hub points out, “The relationships your employees have with their networks – which likely includes potential customers, prospects, and hires – are stronger than any relationship the people in their networks may have with your brand.”
So there’s plenty of reason to bring your employees into the social amplification fold – but how do you do that effectively and safely? Guidelines around how to do just that follow!
Identify Employee Ambassadors
Just as you’d identify, solicit, and empower any other official brand ambassador or influencer, you must do the same with your employees. Not every employee will be up to the task, but those who consistently exhibit a passion for their work and your brand, and have active social followings, are worth approaching.
Here are a few traits of good employee ambassadors:
- Understand empathy
- Aren’t snarky (unless that’s your brand)
- Understand and are consistent with promoting brand voice
- Understand brand goals and how to use social to further them
And here are key traits of bad employee ambassadors:
- Lack social etiquette
- Disinterested in brand big picture
- Focused only on performing narrowly defined job description
Create a Formal Arrangement for Brand Ambassadors
You should already have a well-defined social media policy in place anyway, but if you don’t, now is the time. The last thing you need is for less discriminating employees to see other employees posting and think they should as well.
Be sure your social media policy makes these key points:
- What is okay to share – company posts, industry news, etc.
- What is not okay to share – political views and posts, inappropriate humor, etc.
- The stipulations for naming your brand on personal social profiles
- Consequences of sharing damaging posts or opinions on social channels
Then you can approach your potential brand ambassadors knowing their efforts won’t start a posting spree by others.
Clarify The Data You’ll be Accesssing
Channel insight needs to be captured or you won’t be able to see how well your employees’ efforts are resonating with followers. And being clear with employees before they get started is important
You’ll have access to their posts, interactions and comment data. It’s an amazing wealth of intel and shouldn’t be cause for alarm, but it may be. So, it’s important to let them know that you won’t be accessing their private messages, nor will you be able to, for example
However you approach it, you’ll need to have the conversation at some point so you can ask them authorize to channel access. Without it, you’ll miss out on all kinds of valuable channel data. Insight that will help you understand which posts are resonating with followers and if that should signal a change in your messaging:
Share Parameters for Interactions
You need a clear outline of what is expected for brand ambassadors as well, starting with your overall message. This can’t be a game of telephone. Perhaps each month or quarter you have a specific campaign you want amplified. Be sure brand ambassadors know what you need from them at all times.
To this end, social analytics training can help, where appropriate. If employees have access to social sentiment data, they’ll understand what your audience loves about your brand – or finds lacking. This allows them to speak to these emotions specifically, to validate love where it already exists, or perhaps to reinvigorate love where it’s waning
For example, here are the Sentiment Attributes for Fruit Shoot brand juice:
You can see a lot of the conversation is focused on health. This helps define the types of information it makes sense to speak to if you’re an employee brand ambassador.
But to narrow the field even further, look at Emotions to see which conversations are overtaking social at the moment:
When you look at the specifics of the Emotions, you learn parents are terrified of a school-based whooping cough outbreak growing larger. This is something you can share specific information or tips about to show your brand’s caring side.
But this information is even more potent when it comes from an employee – who perhaps is a parent, with insights to share on keeping kids healthy so they are less likely to contract illnesses even when exposed.
Give your employees permission to interact in such ways – within your defined guidelines.
Make it Easy for Them To Represent You
If it becomes a lot of extra work to be social, employees may not be as effective as you’d like. Providing access to sentiment insights is just one way to make things easy for your employee ambassadors.
Create great content they can share. Maybe send a weekly email with social highlights they can share with a click.
Just be sure everyone isn’t sharing the same things all the time. And leave room for personal taste – if employees are simply regurgitating branded content, they’ll lose the very authenticity you’re trying to achieve.
Take it further by encouraging them to create their own content. Have a vetting process in place to be sure things being shared are appropriate, but the more personal the approach (behind-the-scenes, a day in the life, etc.) the better. Maybe they can guest-write a blog post – or be interviewed by one of your regular bloggers.
Your employee brand advocates should get something for their efforts. They’re helping your brand succeed after all, so they should reap some of the reward for making that happen
Perhaps set up a friendly competition with a leader board displaying brand ambassador stats – and offer tiered rewards for participation. Then they have one more thing to share about, making your brand look fantastic:
Maybe even have a killer grand prize for the person at the top of the leader board.
As an added benefit, you may suddenly see less engaged employees become interested in joining in. And that’s great for business all around. If they’re invested in shining a positive social light on their workplace, that positive energy may translate to the rest of their work.
Monitor Employee Posts Carefully
Even the most careful social experts can slip up – and your employees likely aren’t social experts. Be sure to monitor their posts, but also use social monitoring to stay apprised of any troublesome keywords or changes of sentiment related to anything they share.
You don’t want their efforts to backfire – but if they do, you want to be aware of it immediately. The quicker you’re aware, the quicker you can take action and hopefully avoid things spinning out of control.
Fortunately, as you’ll be tracking their posts in your social analytics tool and reviewing efforts with them regularly, there won’t be any surprises!
And your employee brand ambassadors should increase brand awareness, provide another layer of humanity to your company, and open your audience’s eyes in a new way. All while creating oodles of positive mentions to come up in search, should something negative arise. Win-win and more win there!
That alone should be worth taking the time to train them.
There are so many ways to use social analytics across your brand. Check out the rest of The Complete How-To Guide: Social Media Analytics as well as its companion The Complete Guide to Social Media Analytics.
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Or reach out for an in-depth demo with a member of our team!