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Activating Employee Ambassadors—Inside and Out

There’s no doubt: Employees are—and always have been—your brand’s best ambassadors. Now they’re your most trusted ones, too with both your external and internal audiences.

A recent study found that brands that use a proactive employee advocacy strategy not only improve brand reputation, growth, and sales, but also positively impact “human capital,” improving employee retention, engagement, and talent acquisition.

Which made us wonder: Is employee advocacy the antidote to the Great Resignation? It could very well be. Here’s how.

 

Powering up your brand’s best advocates

In our digital world, most employee ambassadors share their thoughts online—and with nearly 82% of Americans using social media, it makes sense. Your targets are there, and your employees are too. They might even be on platforms your brand’s not on—and we’re 100 percent certain they have followers you don’t.

An advocacy program gives employees tools—along with permission and encouragement—to share your brand’s marketing and communications with their networks. But there’s one caveat; employees do it with their voice from their perspective to create meaningful connections and genuinely advocate for your brand.

And that’s what makes them so powerful.

According to LinkedIn, branded messages distributed by employees are reshared 24 times more often than when they come from the brand, and employees see a click-through rate that’s 200 percent higher than when their company shares the same content.

 

Make employees your internal culture champions

But employee ambassadors aren’t only effective for external targets; they can help you connect with internal ones too. Your employees are people first, so like most people, they’re more likely to trust local information sources such as their colleagues.

So, it should come as no surprise that creating “culture ambassadors” is a growing trend in employee advocacy programs. As culture ambassadors, your employees promote internal communications with their peer networks (your employees).

Culture ambassadors can:

  • Improve employee engagement by leading conversations with coworkers to explain new programs
  • Boost employee morale. They’re a great source for fun events and team-building opportunities that can improve workplace culture (and productivity)
  • Support change initiatives as the dedicated point of contact or “change champion”
  • Provide valuable insights and feedback to management on employee needs, concerns, and morale

Acting as the bridge between your employees and executives, internal culture ambassadors can help you identify what’s working—and what’s not—to foster loyalty internally and be an employer of choice.

 

Activating employees as ambassadors

But extending that bridge to your employees’ social platforms is going to take some work on your part to ensure what they’re sharing is authentic to them—and to your brand.

Here is the foundation to any solid employee advocacy program:

  1. Invite Employees to Join
    There’s only one rule: No forcing. It’s bad for morale and it makes for unenthusiastic content, and no one wants either.
  2. Create Social Media Guidelines
    Guidelines can be as simple as Dos and Don’ts or a more sophisticated policy with a style guide and branded hashtags.
  3. Hold Training Sessions
    Offer lunch-and-learns to help employees build their social profiles and educate them on your brand and how to communicate it. Keep it light, fun, and engaging.
  4. Centralize Resources
    A content calendar, email updates, or recurring meetings can keep employees informed and engaged. Make materials readily available so they can grab and post.
  5. Collect Feedback
    Make it easy. Designate a contact person or create a form where ambassadors can quickly provide input to management.

If you’re unsure where to start, begin with a small, select group of your most engaged employees. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, so you can adapt and grow your advocacy program from there.

 

A win for employers—and their ambassadors

In addition to the brand benefits a strong employee advocacy program provides, employee ambassadors benefit too. By simply inviting employees to advocate for your brand, you ask them to share your mission, which gives them a sense of purpose—and that’s key to employee engagement.

Once employees join the conversation as brand and/or culture ambassadors, they’ll increase their social presence and grow their networks while positioning themselves as thought leaders in their field and industry experts.

All of this provides employees with coveted professional development opportunities, personal growth, and more fulfilling work—helping your brand retain your top talent.

Ready to create an employee advocacy program to benefit your business and your employees? We can help. Contact us.

 

Austin Williams is an outcomes-driven full service advertising, marketing, digital and public relations agency, creating ideas that inspire action for clients in healthcare, higher education, financial services, nonprofits and professional services.

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