Tapping into the power of brand ambassadors:
Mike Hoffman, SMRS

 

Turning employees into brand ambassadors is a big topic right now, but it’s far from new. The idea of an employee ‘representing’ their employer has been around for years, and organisations have long known that the behaviour of an employee can enhance (or, of course, damage) their reputation. So why is it suddenly in the spotlight? Just blame social media.

Organisations can now see, and understand, the impact that their star performers have on things like reputation and even profitability. Social sharing can spread a positive and authentic impression of a brand’s value far and wide – and it can lead to the kind of audience engagement that money just can’t buy.

The decisions that people make online are influenced hugely by the reviews and opinions of others. The more people vouch for a product or business, the more others will trust in what it’s offering. Imagine what you could do if you could create and influence ambassadors like these of your own? This is the whole idea behind brand ambassadors.

You’ll probably already know who your best ambassadors are. They’re the ones who know the business and embody the right values. They’re engaged with your business, and they can talk about it with real authenticity. Mobilise them, and you’ll unleash a force to be reckoned with. After all, according to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, ‘employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or Founder. 41% of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business’.

How do you tap into the positive power of your brand ambassadors? Well, there are five main principles that, if followed, can take you a long way.

Make it easy to share

Help your ambassadors to help you. Make it easy for them understand and articulate the story they’re part of. Arm them with information and content, and let them share it in their own way.

Nokia do this really well. They use a tool called Socialcast, to get everyone in the loop and up to speed on what’s going on. It’s a platform along the lines of Facebook, which hosts a number of groups where people can swap stories and experiences worth sharing. Employees are encouraged to share these widely in the wider social world.

Tell them stuff

You’d be surprised how few employees truly understand what their company stands for, and what makes its brand different from its competitors. If you want your employees to engage with your brand and become effortless, natural salespeople, then you have to develop a sharing culture that keeps them up to speed.

Get them involved

Following on from point two, you’ve got to gather honest opinion. Your ambassadors aren’t going to just trot out a party line. They know your brand better than anyone, and they know the issues as well as the strengths. Don’t sugar coat things – share your concerns and get them involved in fixing them.

Going back to our Nokia example: the power of their approach is that the stories their people share are real because they’re their own. They make the videos, take the photos and write the content. This makes the ambassadorship heartfelt and genuine.

Encourage them to do their own thing

Personality counts for a lot. The best brand ambassador is one who can develop and deliver a personal take on the corporate brand – applying their own unique skills and perspective to support corporate goals. They’ll still need guidance, in the form of dos and don’ts lists and the like. But it pays to turn them loose and watch things spread naturally.

Trust your ambassadors, and great things could happen. A study conducted by MSLGROUP found brand posts shared by employees reach 561% further than the same posts shared by company pages.

Reward them for sharing

Building a strong employer brand means ensuring that all employees feel part of the story. This means recognising people’s work, and rewarding it appropriately – nudging similar behaviour and giving the correct signal that brand promotion really matters. And any recognition programme for employees who go above and beyond their expected duties will create an attitude of pride, ownership and responsibility. This can only feed back into things like more engagement and more sharing.

So, there you go – five ways to encourage brand ambassadorship among your employees. Any business with a well-defined brand should be able to put them into action.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

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brin mcardle Date: Mar 17, 2017

Aw..Mr.Hoffman !

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