Encouraging Employees to Become Brand Advocates
Modern social and SEO strategy relies on creating brand advocates. These are the people who not only consume your content, but also comment on it and share it throughout their social networks. Unfortunately, many companies fail to harness the power of employees – a built in, easily accessible group of potential advocates.
The biggest reason for this is usually fear. Many companies still restrict employee access to Internet and social media, even though employees can now access all of this content form their phones. Any company that has a social media presence should allow their employees to access that same social media at work.
In his book Converge, Bob Lord, CEO of AOL Platforms, encourages companies to stop viewing technology as the enemy and to “approach technology the way a consumer would, without fear or favor and with a sense of wonder and curiosity.”
As an employee becomes an expert in their field and shares knowledge via social media and the internet, their expertise will shine a more favorable light on your company. However, it takes more than access to help employees reach their full potential and to keep that potential at your company.
Encourage Ideation From all Employees
It is incumbent on management to pay attention to all employees, to ensure that they are engaged, and to ensure that their ideas are not being dismissed.
I have been in many corporate environments where good ideas are stifled because of corporate politics. Some brands operate under the auspice that marketing ideas can only come from marketing, sales from sales, and tech from tech, and that employees should avoid stepping on the toes of departments they are not involved in.
Lord suggests that organizations should be driving everyone in the company toward a better product, rather than different departments being run as individual fiefdoms, where each is only worried about their own interests and well being. Everything must be prioritized around what is best for the customer.
This silo-effect not only prevents good ideas from bubbling to the top; it also prevents employees from discovering their true passions. Your copywriter may find that they have a lot of good ideas about web design, but are prevented from expressing or pursuing them due to your corporate structure.
When ideas are shot down because they didn’t come from “the right person,” you create a culture that rewards mediocrity. Employees learn that thinking outside of the box is not valued and treat the job as a paycheck rather than a challenge.
It is incumbent on management to pay attention to all employees, to ensure that they are engaged, and to ensure that their ideas are not being dismissed. People leave companies because they feel like they are not being listened to, so start listening. That doesn’t mean a suggestion box, that means making time to meet individually with employees and trying different combinations of people to see what new ideas are ignited.
Employees Should Build Their Own Brand
Too many brands stifle employee’s efforts to personally brand. As with ideation, this is not typically done intentionally, but is the result of a business environment that discourages personal innovation.
No matter what industry you are in, you want employees who are passionate about it. People with a passion for something talk about it, think about it and write about it. People who are not just showing up for a paycheck.
Brands that block employees from Internet and social media are not achieving anything except creating a disgruntled employee base. Whether chatting by the water cooler or sleeping at their desk, employees were wasting time long before the Internet arrived. Blocking it just makes your company out of touch and costs you valuable employee resources.
Employees should be encouraged to maintain Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social accounts and to follow engage with experts in your industry, whether that is advertising, accounting or personal training.
Your brand social accounts should follow and retweet industry-relevant employee posts (employees, however, should NOT be asked to tweet out brand advertisements).
Do you have a company blog? How many people currently write for it? Many companies have one or two people writing for them. Imagine all of the creative power you could have if you asked more of your employees to contribute to the company blog. Think about how much further your message could carry when an employee contributes a piece they are proud of and then sends it out through their own social networks.
There is more to this than simply saying, “Go get ‘em!”
“Permission is not enough,” noted Susan Emerick and Chris Boudreaux on their webinar Encouraging Employees to Become Brand Advocates. “Prepare employee to focus on right relationships with social intelligence. What are goals for the brand? How does this relate to the customer? How is the brand faring in terms of product and reputation? What tactics can they support?”
Taking the steps to help your employees grow will help employees feel wanted and allow them to grow into strong voices in your industry. Make sure you are growing and supporting them along the way.