We all know about leveraging external influencers like celebrities or social media stars to promote your brand, but there’s an untapped pool of influencers that companies could be leveraging more often.
It’s their employee influencers – the people who work at their companies and live and breathe their cultures. Working with your employees as ambassadors can help grow a company’s brand in an authentic and organic way that benefits everyone.
Influencers have an audience who trusts them and are open to hearing and acting upon their recommendations. Influencer marketing, at its most basic, is finding someone who believes in your product or brand and working with them to tell your brand story to their audience.
When done right, marketing through employee advocacy can drive sales, increase engagement and develop a new audience for your company, brand or products. This is key because people buy from those they trust. Influencers are just as likely as celebrities to drive buying decisions, according to an insight from Think with Google.
That’s why your employees are some of the best advocates for the company. Here’s how you can encourage them to use their knowledge and enthusiasm.
A company can pay for promotion, but the best promotion comes from within. FastCompany notes that content shared by employees can receive up to eight times more engagement than content shared on a brand’s account. Creating a program with guidelines, tips and tools to facilitate the process is a first step to turning your employees into advocates.
For employee sharing to be a success, there are a few things to keep in mind: the process must be voluntary. A company can ask its employees to share on their personal social accounts, but employees must have the choice to opt in. Don’t police their accounts – remember that they are using their own accounts voluntarily. Finally, don’t be heavy-handed with the wording of their social posts. You want them to be truthful and enthusiastic about the company and insisting on vetting every single post wastes time and kill spontaneity.
Offer informal training or a social media refresher to provide some guidelines and best practices for what should be shared. Platforms, such as LinkedIn’s Elevate (which Ceridian uses), make it easy for company teams to curate content that can then be shared by employees to their personal networks.
Engaged employees are happy to talk about their jobs. When a company is looking to hire, their employees are often the best way to find new talent. Employees who are fulfilled at their jobs will often spread the word about open positions to their friends and family. Referrals are very powerful – a study by iCIMS found that over 50% of referred employees have been in their current position for more than five years.
This does hinge on ensuring your company has a positive culture that focuses on employee growth, education and satisfaction. Most companies have a referral program where an employee gets a sum of money if their candidate gets the job, but unhappy employees will not encourage members of their personal network to apply no matter the value of the cash incentive.
We said above that employees who love their jobs are happy to talk about their roles, and refer people to their company. The same is true for a great culture. If your company has, for example, a great commitment to wellness, a strong corporate giving program, or regularly hosts fun events, employees will be proud to reinforce the great culture.
Employees need to believe in the initiatives to want to talk about them. That means developing a culture of trust and ongoing feedback. That way, employees are a part of developing these initiatives and feel empowered to share them with their social networks.
Another way to see your employees as culture ambassadors is let them lead. For example, at Ceridian, we have several programs and initiatives that ladder back up to our values as a company, and our bigger organizational goals. Some examples are our Fun at Work program, our YOUnity employee resource groups, and our Ceridian Cares charity.
Each of these programs has an employee-led committee, backed by executive sponsorship. There’s no better way for employees become culture ambassadors than to immerse them in culture by giving them opportunities to lead initiatives they’re passionate about.
If you do decide to leverage your employees as influencers, not only should you make it easy for them by providing a program or guidelines, but acknowledge them when they have participated or taken action.
You can also tie recognition in with amplification. Set up a leaderboard and challenge employees to increase their sharing and engagement on social platforms, with an incentive or reward as the goal.