Corporate Eye

5 Ways to Turn Employees into Vocal Online Brand Advocates

employee brand advocates 5 Ways to Turn Employees into Vocal Online Brand AdvocatesA company’s employees are its most powerful brand advocates, but few companies know how to effectively empower their employees to advocate their brands. Learning how to do it should be a top priority for every company and brand, particularly for generating online brand advocacy where the reach and influence of your employees could be significant.

Of course, employees have to be happy and have to believe in the brand promise in order to want to advocate it to their own connections and online audiences. That’s where a company needs to start — with a focus on internal brand building.

Next, you need to give your employees the tools they need to advocate your brand in the ways you want them to. This is particularly important for workforces that are spread out in multiple locations. Using a tool like the employee advocacy software from Expion can help you manage the process, but you need to create your strategy and brand advocacy plan first.

You can’t expect your employees will know what to do. It’s up to you to guide them to advocate the brand properly. To help you get started, following are five ways you can turn your employees into vocal brand advocates online:

1. Give your employees the messages you want them to share.

What do you want your employees to say about your brand in their online conversations? What messages would make them proud to share information about their company and your brand? Can you give them messages that would be useful and meaningful to their friends, family, and online connections? Don’t assume they’ll relay every message you give them, and don’t give them sales-oriented messages. Very few employees will want to broadcast marketing and sales messages from their employer to their connections, but many will want to share useful information.

2. Give your employees the content you want them to talk about and share.

Beyond giving your employees messages, give them actual content to talk about and share online. This includes videos, infographics, images, slideshows, ebooks, and so on. This content should be meaningful, useful, or entertaining or none of your employees will share it. The goal for employee brand advocacy should be to build brand awareness across wider audiences that can lead to sales at a relatively low cost . With that in mind, keep self-promotion to a minimum. Focus on brand storytelling and tapping into emotions in your content, so people will want to share it.

3. Acknowledge your employees who actively advocate your brand online.

Don’t let your employees’ brand advocacy activities go unnoticed. Respond to them online. Acknowledge them offline as well. This acknowledgement should include company recognition and personal appreciation on a one-to-one basis. They’ll have more motivation to continue talking about your brand if they feel appreciated for their efforts.

4. Show your employees the results of their online brand advocacy efforts.

If your employees’ online brand advocacy efforts are showing measurable results, make sure they’re aware of the effects their activities are having on the brand and company. They’ll feel more motivated to keep up their efforts knowing that those efforts are actually having an impact.

5. Reward your employees who actively advocate your brand online.

If you can tie brand advocacy efforts back to individual employees, then you should have a method in place to not just acknowledge those employees but also to reward employees who are extremely active or driving real results for the company through their efforts. This is essential if you can tie employee advocacy efforts directly to sales and revenues. Internal brand advocacy can help your company drive word-of-mouth marketing at a fraction of the cost other marketing initiatives would require, so make sure you reward your top employee influencers whose advocacy leads directly to sales.

Image: Svilen Milev

 5 Ways to Turn Employees into Vocal Online Brand Advocates
Susan Gunelius is the author of multiple marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and blogging books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, a leading blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com, a featured writer for Forbes.com, and the Guide to Blogging for About.com. Additionally, her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, FoxBusiness.com, WashingtonPost.com, TheStreet.com, SmartMoney.com, TodayShow.com, BusinessWeek.com, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Small Business, and more. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Susan also appears at in-person and virtual events where she speaks about marketing, branding, social media, and more (visit www.SusanGunelius.com for more information). You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

 
Comments

Great post! Whenever I speak with clients about putting together a brand advocate program I always recommend that employees should be put at the top of the list. Not only are their interests directly aligned with the brand but they are almost always connected to the target audience that the marketing department is trying to reach.

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