Many organizations rely on taglines, well-positioned marketing campaigns and even famous spokespersons to influence customers. But what if we told you that investing those marketing dollars into employee ambassador training could have the same or better results? We already know that engaged employees can increase profitability as much as 21%. So why not nurture and leverage our employees to help increase brand awareness and customer satisfaction?
“There is no more precious commodity than the relationship of trust and confidence a company has with its employees.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks
It begins with trust. Trust is critical to the operation of any organization, no matter how small or large. Last year, we learned that 51% of Canadians believe that companies only think about themselves and 68% of Canadians believe that CEOs are driven by greed, rather than by making a positive difference in the world. There is no doubt some of our employees share these concerns, which is why nurturing trust internally is just as important as externally. You can spend all the money in the world on creating and curating an image or perception, but social media can tell a different story. Before you launch any marketing program, make sure you are what you say you are.
How can an organization strengthen client trust?
In the last several years, the Marketing + Communications landscape has shifted. Influencer marketing has become widely used by businesses of all sizes, across industries. Many have aligned with persons who have significant followers hoping to get a leg up on impact, awareness and/or bottom line. The problem is that influencers don’t always have much influence at all. And despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these campaigns, companies like P&G , Ritz-Carlton found out the price of vanity. Our strongest and most powerful voices come from within our own organizations via our employees. And when human resources and marketing work together to nurture employee ambassadors, they can have a powerful impact on our customers!Tip: paying influencers is the same as advertising. Building trust comes from being transparent and not misrepresenting your product or service.
Employee Social Media Footprint
We know that our employees have their own social networks. Here in Canada, 66% of Canadians have at least one social network. If we have 50 employees and they average 250 social connections, we can increase our reach by 12,500. This reach can either be positive or negative. Our employees are already an extension of our business, whether they’re on the clock or off the clock; online or offline. We know that they can be our greatest ambassadors or a liability. If we want to create an environment where our employees are excited to help us spread awareness about the company and go above for customers, we must readily adopt transparent communication. We also need to make sure that we’re constantly communicating beyond the basics. Our employees need to know and understand our mission; who are we? what does it matter? what are our business goals? what are our business objectives? When our employees trust us and believe in us and truly become ambassadors, we show our customers why they can trust us.
What is a social media brand ambassador [company side]?
These are your employees and colleagues who are passionate about the mission of the company.
They are your best in class for customer service and are the ones who pump others up. They are a positive force in your offices, factories and sites. They are the people whom others within your organization go to for advice, guidance and information. They are happy to advocate for your organization, both online and offline; on the clock and off the clock.
How does a social media brand ambassador program work?
* The important thing to remember here is that ambassadors are totally voluntary. We do not pressure or push on employees to share messaging from their networks. The goal is that our employees are so excited, proud and compelled to get involved that they will want to participate.
Resistance: “Are we being monitored?”
There is potential that employees will be resistant to sharing company information to their private social networks, and there’s a good reason for that. They do not want to be monitored. Some companies actively monitor their employee’s online activity, so your employees may feel vulnerable. It’s important to be transparent. If you are asking employees to share online, be clear on your goals and why you are asking for help. At the end of the day, the goal is that everyone works together toward success.
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