Unless you’ve been living on the moon this last year, your brand will surely be well acquainted with the concept of influencer marketing. But the truth is, with a reported 77% of under 34s using social media at work at least once a day, it’s worth investing in your employees – they could turn out to be your best influencers. We take a look at seven ways to turn your employees into brand influencers.
1. Teach employees about your brand
In the early days of a startup the brand is still developing, but what brand elements do exist employees tend to live and breathe. As the company grows and employees become more specialised in their roles, they tend to grow ever more disconnected from the company’s central mission. Employees need to understand why the company started and the purpose of the brand so that they can understand what the company wants to communicate, in what voice and to whom.
2. Provide training to employees on social media
Sometimes those in the marketing industry assume wrongly that all employees from the CEO down to the interns know how to use social media effectively. Providing some basic social media training will ensure that all employees, not just the millennials, are up-to-date. It is also vital that companies offer their employees guidelines for how employees should talk about the company on their accounts. Starbucks are a great example of this.
3. Offer social media inspiration to employees
While ideally your employees would be posting spontaneously of their own volition it never hurts to give them some pre-prepared material. Collate a bank of stories that they can simply click on and share on their social channels including in-house blog posts and external articles where the company is mentioned favorably, such as this one from IBM.
4. Ensure your top team sets an example
Brand influence will be a culture shift for many employees who, on top of their regular work, are being encouraged to talk favorably about their company within their private networks. Ensure the top team sets the right example: the management team needs to be seen to be actively sharing and participating in the scheme to inspire employees. Magdalena Rogl, Head of Digital Channels at Microsoft Deutschland, is the one to watch here.
5. Track employee activity on social media
Keep track on your superstar influencers in the organisation. Reebok are a great example of this – the success of their employee advocacy program revolves around encouraging employees to share their passion for fitness and then incorporating a provocative hashtag–#FitAssCompany. As a result, the company can easily track the content that employees have shared.
6. Reward and recognise employees
Think about what your employees really value (further training? holiday days?) and establish a rewards program accordingly. Ensure top influencers are also widely recognised - your top three influencers should be visible on the Intranet and announced at all-company meetings. Becoming a brand influencer should absolutely be on a voluntary basis, but there is no harm in the company rewarding and recognising their most proactive employees to incentivise others.
7. And finally, and most importantly: Build a great culture that employees want to shout about
Employees have to want to share updates. If employees are engaged and enthusiastic this is an easy ask. They will want to tell their followers about the great company they work for and about its products!