November 11, 2016

Five Steps to Turn Your Employees into Business-Building Ambassadors

BRANDWhether your organization is large or small, it can benefit from greater awareness, more leads and higher sales by unleashing the power of your employees to serve as business-building brand ambassadors. Your employees have their own network of friends and potential referrals with whom they can share your brand and marketing messages and stories. Employees can also act as emissaries on social media and provide a layer of authenticity and internal credibility that builds trust with your prospective and current customers.

You can keep existing clients interested, and attract new business from prospects, by encouraging your employees to talk about the great things that are happening at your organization with their contacts who they regularly interact with face-to-face. In addition, according to Lithium, a company that helps businesses build brand awareness and engage their customer communities to accelerate innovations and grow brand advocacy, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising. In addition, 81 percent of consumers are influenced by their friends’ social media posts. Analysis of just two social media platforms—Facebook and Twitter— demonstrates how the influence of your employees can be a powerful force for growing your business.

The average number of Facebook friends of U.S. users is 350 (649 for those ages 18 to 24), and the average number of Twitter followers of U.S. users is 220. Assuming 30 percent duplication between these two platforms leaves the average person in this country with 400 online social networking connections. Therefore, if you have 100 employees advocating for your company, you can reach 40,000 people just through social networking. If you have 1,000 employees advocating for your company, you can reach 400,000 people. And studies have found that 90 percent of an employee’s social audience is new to the brand. So, of your 1,000 employees’ followers, 360,000 will be new to your company.

The following are five steps to help your employees become stronger ambassadors for your company:

  1. Develop clear and succinct messages.
    Create clear, differentiated and authentic “elevator speeches” that reflect your brand. These messages should be timely and easy to remember, and should resonate with employees. All your messages should be specific and reflect the key points you want to emphasize in your communications. Avoid industry buzzwords. Instead use language that will be meaningful to the people listening.
  2. Use multiple forms of internal communication.
    Ask your CEO to address all employees, either in person or by video. Hold multiple “Lunch and Learn with Leadership” sessions for employees to hear about new initiatives directly from senior leadership. Create a presentation for department heads to use to share your new products and services with employees in their staff meetings. Conduct regular internal communication workshops and distribute information to all employees via newsletters, emails, fliers and posters.
  3. Encourage employee advocacy.
    Ask employees to share company innovations and news (appropriately) with their contacts at their next networking event, client dinner, or volunteer opportunity. Share marketing messages about your new products and examples of exceptional customer service, and encourage your employees to retell these stories. Allow employees to be innovative and genuine to maintain their personal authenticity and credibility.
  4. Provide ground rules.
    Create a policy for employee social media use. Communicate regularly with examples of how employees are positively influencing customer perceptions and actions, and driving results, by sharing stories, photos and videos about your products and services.
  5. Measure and reward success.
    Highlight business and customer service goals as well as feedback from your customers for employees to view. Share breaking industry news and company information with your employees before it is made public. Provide incentives to employees for achieving measurable sales goals.

By providing your employees with information they can share with others, you will bond them more tightly to your company’s products and services. And through the power of their influence and social networks, your organization’s presence and business will grow.

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