Sahail Ashraf posted on 25 November 2016
You may not have noticed (we guess that you have) that social media organic reach is dwindling. It’s a problem. It’s not the only problem brands face on social, but one that will probably reflect the fact that social media is always changing.
Things happen in cycles, so we reckon that as new platforms and methods spring up in the coming years, organic reach will become a ‘thing’ once again.
Until then, brands are kind of scrambling for ways in which to reach a bigger audience. Social media can be incredibly powerful, but if the old ways are running out of steam, what can you do?
Turn to your team, perhaps? Brand ambassadors can be created using your employee base. These guys can then use their social media accounts to wax lyrical with your brand message.
In a nutshell, your employees spread the brand message on their personal social accounts, and therefore expand that organic reach even further. It’s a simple concept, based around the idea of having ‘evangelists’ out there spreading the word. And it’s a simple concept that works, with minimal costs involved.
Spreading the word doesn’t just happen overnight, though. First, we will take a look at the benefits of doing this, and then some strategies you can put in place to make it all happen.
Humana is a (healthy) healthcare brand, and it’s doing pretty well in fact. But it recognised that it needed to work on the organic reach issue, and simply get out there in front of more people.
And it pulled together a program that allowed it to dip its toes into the employee brand ambassador concept. The content that employees share and engage with is part of a unique balance of brand message and industry relevance. The two components work together and create a qualified audience that has lead generation potential.
According to Jason Spencer, Humana’s Social Media Community Manager: “Sixty percent (of the content) is health and well-being content, which allows [employees] to grow followers and become influencers in the space. So when they do share Humana content, they have a more qualified audience.”
With nearly 3,000 employees now actively engaged in the ‘advocacy’ program, it looks like using employees as brand evangelists is a strategy that works. Just a few months ago, Humana only had 500 employees involved. There’s obviously something to think about here.
The more engagement advocates bring into your social media platforms, the more likely it will be that revenue starts arriving. Leads will come as people find your brand through these new, multiple sources of reach and engagement. It is more than useful to start a project that involves identifying, nurturing and growing a brand advocate group in your team.
Generally speaking, though, it probably isn’t a good idea to just ask your employees to send out gushing tweets on their personal Twitter profile. Something has to happen between the point where you decide to ‘empower’ employees, and the point where they decide to talk about the brand on their personal platforms.
And that ‘something’ is, essentially, employee training.
There are some brands that will happily shell out thousands to train their staff to become expert evangelists. Most brands can’t do this, or won’t. Instead, it is still possible to have an incredibly powerful campaign and a team that brings results. Remembering what makes employees like the company their work for in the first place is where you need to start.
Basically, you have to have a place of work that involves fun, excitement and generally a ‘nice’ feel. Every now and then work on celebrating your employees and what they have achieved. You could turn this into an ‘employee of the week’ thing, and give rewards and kudos to those who are doing well and going the extra mile.
We don’t have to tell you how to make your employees happy, but generally treating them with the good stuff on a regular basis makes for a team that is happy to work with you. And a happy team is generally a group of people who are happy to post positive and supportive content on social media.
Make your team a happier one, and when you build out your advocate crew, they will be more open to being on brand message.
We understand why it may be a little difficult to allow employees to be on social media during their working day, but it could well lead to some true evangelist behaviour if you play it right.
After setting some simple and clear guidelines for social media usage during work hours, encourage your employees to post about their work day, or to engage with other people in your industry during their coffee break, for example. It is vitally important to ensure that social doesn’t get in the way of work, yes, but if you encourage social media use in the right way, your employees will feel relaxed online, and open to singing the brand’s praises.
If you’re stuck with where to begin with a workplace social media policy, here are some excellent examples of brands taking on the problem head on, and succeeding.
Allow your employees to use social media, and when you want them to do it for branding purposes, it won’t feel so ‘weird’ to them.
The most successful brands online will always be those that have a clear understanding of their own story. Knowing where your brand comes from and what it means to you and your audience is the most obvious characteristic of top brands.
The same is true for any brand advocacy that your employees will deliver. If they are not totally in on your story, and don’t understand why your brand exists, you can’t really expect them to become champions for your company.
Hold regular meetings and deliver reports to your employees, with a focus on the branding notes you are proudest of. If you have a compelling story to tell the world about why you are here, it needs to be understood by the people that you want to spread it.
We suggest a regular focus on the brand, purely for the benefit of the employees. They should appreciate the best bits of your story, and they should ‘buy in’, and only then can you trust them to talk about your company on their social media accounts. And in any case, they will most likely be more engaging if you do it this way.
Use your analytics to find out which posts and which shares have the biggest impact on your performance. If something huge happens and it can be traced to an employee’s Facebook profile, make that a big event in the office. People need to know that social media has a huge impact on the brand and how it handles itself.
Seriously, the next time anything happens online with regards to the exposure and engagement, and one of your employees is responsible, treat them like royalty. They are true brand ambassadors, and should be rewarded with your fullest attention and praise.
Obviously, developing an essentially free source of leads is something every brand will jump at. But we suggest starting slow, building that happy culture, and then allowing social media to be part of what you do every day.
The more relaxed the brand is, and the happier it is, the more natural it will feel when employees start to post and share.
It’s not the hardest thing in the world to do, this ambassador idea. But it may well be a frontier your brand can’t cross unless you focus on creating the right culture.
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