Step Into the Arena
Let’s face it, standing out in today’s market is a bit like The Hunger Games, except everyone is wearing suits and armed with briefcases.
But what if companies already had a team of champions (literally) giving them the upper hand before they even stepped into the arena?
Enter employee advocacy.
By empowering your staff to become brand ambassadors, you can create a stream of brand awareness that flows directly from the company, through your workforce, and into their wider networks. In essence, this is the golden ticket to marketing your employer brand from the inside out.
So, where do you find this golden ticket?
We’ve got the top five strategies for fostering your advocates and maximising their potential, all spelled out for you below. Let’s go.
Culture, Culture, Culture
Engagement and empowerment are the cornerstones of a successful employee advocacy programme - start here and start strong.
Creating a working environment that encourages open communication, offers career progression, and celebrates employee recognition will help nurture a sense of belonging and longevity amongst your workforce. Who wouldn’t get excited about working in a place where they feel included?
By doing these things, you're helping to improve the overall employee experience, which in turn will lay the groundwork for a more enthusiastic brand ambassador. Employees who feel valued, included, and involved in decision-making processes are more likely to advocate for your brand and do it well.
Invest in your people and they will invest in you.
Now that we’ve got our ambassadors raring to go, how do we ensure they’re communicating the correct message?
Keep Their Vision 20:20
This may seem like a no-brainer, but before your ambassadors start working their magic, you must ensure they fully understand what and how they should be communicating.
This includes everything from brand values to tone of voice to service lines, the whole shabang. Offer them comprehensive training and brand guideline packs so they feel confident in their knowledge and have reference points if they don’t.
As and when values are changed or updated, run a refresher course. Keep your ambassadors at the forefront of your brand knowledge. This will ensure your employer brand messaging stays consistent regardless of who it's coming from.
People trust people - make sure your ambassadors are advocating accurately and authentically.
And speaking of authenticity, what better way to celebrate your ambassadors’ unique perspectives and experiences than posting about it on social media?
A little ‘behind the scenes’ or ‘day in the life’ content gives your audience a sneak peek into your company at its core, which is exactly what is going to set you apart. First-hand posts from your ambassadors showcasing snippets of their day-to-day will organically raise awareness of your brand’s online reputation and help bridge the trust between your brand and your audience.
But enough about who you’re trying to target, what about the ambassadors themselves?
These posts are the perfect catalyst for helping them feel like part of a community - build a Slack channel, Teams, or Whatsapp Group for them to share their content, hype each other up, and suggest constructive feedback. You can even take this a step further and add an element of gamification to keep the content rolling. Nothing drives motivation like a bit of friendly competition.
A final tip - prioritise LinkedIn. Think about how many connections or followers you currently have. Now multiply that by 30 engaged and active ambassadors advocating for your brand. Boom! Your collective reach increases significantly and plants your employer brand across countless new industries, profiles, and networks.
And Today’s Winner Is…
We’ve already mentioned gamification to up the competition between ambassadors, but the real key is their participation.
Consistency is crucial.
And the best way to maintain this momentum is by having something in place to acknowledge and celebrate all the hard work your ambassadors are doing. Remember, they are taking this on in addition to their day-to-day tasks; make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
Set up a system that clearly marks out what the awards are and the criteria for winning them. For example, one award could be a piece of company stash that says ‘Brand Ambassador’ (please make it more fun than this). To win the merchandise, you need to reach 250 points, which is achieved by posting organic content (25 points), sharing it into the community (15 points), and engaging with other ambassadors’ posts (10 points for a comment, 5 for a like). Capeesh?
Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to make these rewards achievable. You want your ambassadors to be succeeding. You want them to be excited about what they can win next.
Because not only does it mean they are actively engaging in the programme, the likelihood is that they are enjoying it. If you visibly demonstrate your appreciation for their hard work, they will have concrete evidence of the value they are contributing to the company.
Don’t underestimate the impact of your employees feeling seen and knowing they are making a difference.
We’re All In This Together
Cue High School Musical (just kidding).
Like any company initiative, a successful employee advocacy programme is a two-way street.
Remember that open-communication I mentioned earlier? This is where it’s vital.
Get everyone on the same page by encouraging your employees to feedback on the programme regularly. Ask them to share what they like, what they don’t, and be prepared to implement the necessary changes to keep them happy and keep the programme improving. Taking action off the back of their recommendations will show you value their opinions and you're proactively trying to make their experience the best it can be.
And when you make those changes, your ambassadors should be the first to know. Communicate new updates, success stories, and any other news surrounding the programme that will continue building that sense of belonging. Making them your first port of call for any changes will ensure they feel they are at the centre of the programme and should help to keep everyone’s values and goals aligned.
So what have we learned?
In short, brand ambassadors could be the in-house superheroes you never knew you needed (or had!).
An advocacy programme is your one-stop shop for boosting employee morale, creating a sense of community, and encouraging loyalty among your workforce. it's the perfect way to ensure you're creating the best possible employee experience for your staff, and hopefully the best collection of advocates.
But it's also an incredibly strategic move that can pay huge dividends in enhancing your employer brand.
By encouraging your brand ambassadors to share their authentic stories online, they can become the driving force behind your new initiatives, help to attract top talent, and reinforce (or reinvent) your company’s reputation. With a group of trained advocates sharing your brand’s message in the same tone of voice across the same platform, you can create a constant flow of positive reinforcement for your organisation.
So, get yourself to the drawing board, draft up that advocacy plan, put it into practice, and watch as your brand awareness spreads like wildfire.
And don’t forget to thank us, we’ll be waiting.