A brand ambassador is someone who promotes a brand and its products to their network with the objective of increasing brand awareness and driving sales. In the past, a brand ambassador was typically a celebrity or someone with a good amount of name recognition who was paid for their efforts to promote a brand or products. However, this definition is expanding and has reached employees of organizations.
When businesses think about Public Relations, they often see customers as the main and more important target audience. However, employees are the face of the company and can be your most valuable brand ambassadors; companies often overlook the role employees can play in influencing the customers they’re trying to reach. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you want to know more about a company’s products and services, who would you trust: an anonymous online reviewer or a friend or neighbor who works at the company? Or maybe it’s a friend of a friend or neighbor who works at the company. Put simply, when your employees speak, their social networks are listening.
Your employees know the business better than anyone and they can be a strong asset in helping generate brand awareness and consideration of your products and services. If you give them the right structure and support, employees could be one of your most valuable PR resources. Here are six steps you can take to turn your employees into your brand ambassadors:
1. Communicate the vision
If you asked your employees to tell you the vision and mission of the company, chances are they would each articulate that message in a different way. Make sure your employees understand the value you are providing to your customers. This message should be consistently reinforced in communication from senior leadership and managers so employees can clearly articulate it to their networks. It’s important that everyone is speaking from the same page when it comes to “who we are” and “what we do.”
To motivate employees as brand ambassadors, keep them engaged throughout the year. There is usually a combination of things you need to do and it all takes time. It all depends on your company’s culture because what works for one brand, may not work for another and vice versa. So, don’t be afraid to try new strategies and tactics over time to see what’s best for your brand.
2. Listen To What They Hear
Don’t discount their feedback as “noise” really listen to what they’re hearing from customers. Nothing is more disconcerting than watching employees share relentless feedback in focus groups, and having executive finally pay attention when the consultant comes in and says the same thing.
3. Give Them Contex
Create a weekly email that includes all shareable content (news, blog articles, photos, videos, etc.) that employees can share. Include sample posts, tweets and hashtags they can use. This will ensure your employees are sharing news that is timely and accurate. Encourage employees to follow, like and share the company’s social media updates.
4. Encourage employee engagement.
Research shows that engaged employees are happier and deliver better customer service. We’ve seen many companies strive to provide excellent customer satisfaction, but in order to achieve it they need to ensure that their employees are satisfied first.
Identify the right candidates. Employees who will have the highest impact will usually be those who have the desire to share their opinion with confidence and clarity. They speak up when given the chance and have influence already within the company. The right employees are going to be highly engaged to learn new strategies and push beyond the challenges of this role. This person must be a believer in the company deep into his or her core.
5. Establish a reward program
It will only reassure employees that they are doing a great job and that you appreciate their hard work. It doesn’t have to be a big bonus. If you are tight on the budget, even praise, a gift card or a random day off can be enough to make an employee feel acknowledged, every gesture counts.
It’s common for employees to hesitate when sharing information about their employers on social media, as they may be concerned that it could get them into trouble. When social media first became popular, many employers banned its use at work because it was a distraction. If you want your employees to post, tweet and snap about your business, you’ll need to relax those rules.
6. Communicate openly.
Open communication at the workplace is essential. If you want employees to trust you, make sure they are “in-the-know.” For example, if the company is undergoing rebranding, tell employees and ask them for their opinion. Hold brainstorming sessions, ask them for new ideas and feedback on upcoming milestones.
Whether it’s a conversation on the soccer field or dinner with friends, we all talk about the companies we work for and the products and services they provide. That collective word of mouth has a significant impact on the reputations and bottom lines of companies of all sizes. What’s changed over the years is that technology has now given everyone the power to communicate to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Today, you don’t need to have the deep pockets to create your own media network; you simply need a Facebook account.