Ever since I clicked on a catchy looking article featuring Khloe Kardashian and some Gummy Hair Vitamins, Google has been retargeting me with various Kardashian-led endorsements. A much regretted click on my part.
Even if you are smarter than me and avoided the Kardashian post, I’m sure you’ve come across similar brand endorsements from big names. Michael Jordan on the Wheaties box; Lebron James and Nike; Beyonce drinking a Pepsi; the examples are endless.
Brand ambassadors and influencers are hired by brands for long-term relationships or even a short-term campaign. These aren’t always macro influencers, however, and brands also use “normal people” who are experts in their industry to represent their brand. These outside influences can be a great marketing technique. They build your network and reach consumers outside your inner circle. But, there may be another way to go about influencer marketing.
How many times have you gone far and wide looking for a solution to one of your problems, only to realize later that the solution was right in front of you the whole time?
Before you look outside your company for influencers, look within. That sounds very much like something Yoda would say, but really, look within your company at some of the best potential influencers you have- your employees. Employees are a largely untapped market that can play a hugely successful role in your marketing strategy.
Teach employees to build their personal brand.
Marketing Land recently wrote an article all about how to market yourself. Not how to market your company or idea, but yourself personally. Employees with a personal brand become employees who stand out in their field as experts. They, as experts on your product or service, naturally act as a credible spokesperson for your company.
Borrowing ideas from Marketing Land, here are three points on building this personal brand. Pass them onto your employees and help them reach their potential.
1. Develop your story
This step involves taking a look back at your past and connecting the dots to see how far you’ve come. As you do this for yourself, you become better able to communicate your journey in an enticing way that makes sense for others. This helps to answer why you are in your current work industry, and what it means to you.
2. Allow yourself to be vulnerable
No one likes a glossed-over narrative. When telling your story, you need to be open and share the not-so-great parts as well. Be honest about past failures, and extract authentic elements of your past to represent who you are today. This makes a company representative relatable, unlike an algorithmic marketing strategy.
Being vulnerable also includes opening your mouth to share your story, which leads to habitual networking.
3. Pick a platform and dominate
This point reminds me of the famous quote: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
As you develop your personal brand and focus on the things that matter to you, don’t try and share your story and interests across all mediums. Instead, pick one main social media platform and stick to it. While this may not sound half as catchy as the quote above, this can be summed up by: “Whatever you choose, do it right.”
Brand messages get re-shared 24 times more frequently when shared by employees than the company brand. Your platform is a powerful one.
Create an employee advocacy program.
Let’s cut to the chase. What is an employee advocacy program?
Sprout Social has said, “At its core, employee advocacy is the promotion of an organization by its staff members. An employee advocate is someone who: Generates positive exposure and raises awareness for a brand through digital media or offline channels; Recommends a company’s products or services to a friend or family member.” (Source)
An advocacy program gives employees structured incentives to be representing their company.
How effective are advocacy programs?
Employees have the potential to reach so many more people beyond the number of fans a Facebook business page might have.
And not only are you able to reach more people through your employees, people tend to trust peer recommendations over company advertisements. Because of this, leads from employee advocacy are seven times more likely to close than leads from other methods. To begin with, people are 16 times more likely to read a friend’s post about a brand than from the brand directly. Almost 64% of companies with formal employee advocacy programs credit advocacy with attracting new business.
We know this works because we’ve done it at Boostability
At Boostability, we have a point system that encourages employee advocacy. When employees comment on or share the company’s blogs or social media content, they get points. Retweets and personal posts with tags to Boostability count as well. Employees can use these points as a way to get prizes, such as gift cards, movie tickets, or treats.
It’s generally a win-win situation all around.
Participation in this program is, of course, voluntary, as it should be with all advocacy programs. No one should have to participate, but as you make it a fun environment, most everyone will want to.
Help them to succeed.
The worst thing you can do as an employer is to get your employees all hyped up about employee advocacy and brand culture, and then never follow through with it again. To avoid that, you need to support your employees as influencers. That support can come in many different ways.
You can help your employees learn social media tips so they are posting and commenting on content in effective ways. You can also teach about your company brand voice and the things that you as a company stand for.
There are different advocacy tools out there to make it easy to report and follow employee efforts. Bambu provides an easy way to curate sharable content for your entire team, and share internal messages like news and company updates. Most employee advocacy tools allow you to track website traffic from your advocates. This way you can differentiate between traffic from your own social media posts and traffic stemming from your advocacy program.
Frequently communicate advocacy program goals and incentives so vision doesn’t fade away.
Build your employee culture.
Your employees will be the most effective brand ambassadors as they aren’t just sharing or commenting on your content, but when they are creating content themselves.
At Boostability, for example, we have a culture where our employees are constantly posting on different social media platforms. They use hashtags that represent Boostability and can be easily followed.
What are they posting?
It’s not directly promotional at all. Whenever something interesting is going on in the office, when there is a team event, or even whenever someone brought something good into the lunchroom that day employees often post. Check it out yourself here.
Through their posts, we have over 7,503,024 impressions! As you create this culture in your company of sharing what’s going on, you can see a similar reach.
Did you get all that?
We just went over a lot of information, but the most important takeaway is to not overlook your internal employees as brand representatives.
The benefits help you realize it would be crazy to do so. Employee influencing is cost-effective, convenient and sustainable. It also benefits your employees and helps with their career development, employee engagement and creates a great company culture.
So, what are you waiting for? Get to it! And come to us if you have any questions.