Empower Employees as Brand Champions in Social Media

Jasonmillerca
Jason Miller Senior Manager, Content Marketing , LinkedIn

Posted on March 26th 2011

Empower Employees as Brand Champions in Social Media

Chances are your employees are already engaging in social platforms, so why not empower them as brand advocates?

With the explosion of social media over the past few years it is now more important than ever to monitor and engage with your customers. Encouraging your employees to openly discuss your brand online can have a “humanizing” effect, ultimately increasing positive consumer perception.

The first step is to put together a social media policy outlining what types of activities are allowed and define appropriate behavior. It is important to set a tone for the conversations that will take place. Maintaining a respectful and ethical rapport should be a cornerstone of your policy. Click here for an example of a great social media policy.

The next step is to find your internal social media evangelists. Create an online survey to send to your employees and find out their current state of social savvy and interest in participating.

For example, ask questions such as:

  • Do they have a Twitter account and/or Facebook page?
  • Which blogs do they read and comment on regularly?
  • Are they engaging in LinkedIn group discussions?
  • Do they participate in social aggregators such as Digg, Reddit, and Stumble Upon?

Ask if anyone would like to volunteer to be an official social media advocate and lead the new initiative.

After you have solicited your staff, analyze the results to find who is socially active, and arrange a brown bag lunch with those wanting to learn more. Now that you have all of your knowledge-hungry social media folks (pun intended) in the same room, open the floor for discussion, and encourage the sharing of ideas in regards to social strategy. Take note of unanswered questions for follow up. 

Try to find a nice mix of participation from employees in each area of the business: customer service, sales, marketing, etc. so that you have a voice representing all departments.

Here are some great ways that your employees can participate:

Encourage them to write a blog post on a topic of interest that relates to your industry. Creating a simple blog template for employees to use can be a great tool to eliminate any barriers to writing a post. Click here for some sample templates.

Encourage participation in LinkedIn groups. This can be a tremendous opportunity to share expertise, gain valuable insight, and keep abreast of the latest trends.

Employees who participate in Facebook and Twitter conversations by sharing valuable insights, can help establish your business as a thought leader. Just make sure employees know where to turn for guidance in the case of a questionable post.

Social aggregators such as Digg and Stumble Upon are also great social platforms for employee participation. Sharing and commenting on relevant articles and stories can again lend credibility to your business.

In conclusion, your employee’s voices can be a very powerful medium across the various social platforms. Empowering them to speak on behalf of your brand can be a fruitful endeavor for both your company synergy efforts as well as your social strategy. 

Jasonmillerca

Jason Miller

Senior Manager, Content Marketing , LinkedIn

Jason Miller is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Linkedin leading the content marketing and social media strategy for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. 

Previously he was the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy at Marketo. He led the company's social media efforts by increasing engagement, optimizing for lead generation, and driving revenue. He also played a key role in developing Marketo’s content strategy by developing many of the top performing resources and most viral visual content pieces.  

Before Marketo, Jason spent more than ten years at Sony Music entertainment developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. 

When he is not building campaigns, creating remarkable content, and tracking the ROI of social, he is winning awards as a concert photographer, singing 80's metal Karaoke, and winning at Seinfeld trivia.

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Comments

Great article & I fully agree. I'm sure you'll appreciate these posts about this topic as well, Jason

http://www.theconversationmanager.com/2010/11/05/How-many-superstars-does-your-company-have/

http://www.theconversationmanager.com/2011/02/11/do-you-have-a-conversational-company/

Steven Van Belleghem

@steven_insites

Hi Steven 

Thanks for the comment, will definitely check out the posts. 

All the best,

Jason

This is a great article.  Employees and existing customers are the most powerful (and valuable) champions of any business!

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the comment, much appreciated!

 

Best,

Jason

Nice article Jason... you can never have enough brand ambassadors. One additional task employees can do is to monitor all networks for their company chatter. The sooner you discover chatter the sooner you can respond to it, both positive and negative.

Patsy Stewart

Social Buzz Lab

http://WeBuildBuzz.com

 

Hi Patsy, 

 

Thanks for the comment. Good point about the chatter,  I couldn't agree more. 

 

All the best,

Jason

You made some very good points Jason.  I believe you are totally right.  Companies using social media and utilizing their brand advocates is a must now days.  Employees should be one of the first places you go to find your brand advocates.  These people know the company (and hopefully how the company wants to be portrayed) and they can, as you said, be a part of "humanizing your brand."  

You can also use employees to build your brand.  Get them on Q&A sites, commenting on blog posts in their field, etc, to show their expertise.  This can have a great impact on how your company is viewed by potential consumers and also by the industry as a whole.

Lisa Sudderth

SM Agency

http://www.facebook.com/SMAgency

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for the comment, and you have some excellent suggestions! Your second paragraph would be a perfect next step from the suggestions in my post. 

Thanks again,

All the best,

Jason 

Nicely said, but unfortunately, in many industries, this flies in the face of the policies that are being instiituted by corporations regarding social media and their brand.  In fact, in many, perhaps all too many cases a company may insist that your social profiles and engagement specifically exclude anything regarding the company or brand.  As I understand it, there are, as always, lawsuits working their way through the system in order to set some precedence. Unless common sense prevails (and in our legal system it generally does not) then in all likelihood we'll see employee participation in social media dwindle as it becomes a victim of the courts, as we've seen time and time again with sports and celebrity figures.

Hi Bob,

Interesting point. I think that the larger coroporations will always have conflicts of interest when it comes to employees and their social strategy, but small and medium sized businesses are in a much better position to take advantage of social saavy employees. One important thing to consider is that once you as an employee take on this role, your public comments can, and probably always will be, tied to your company. (id Chrysler) So don't be controversial or vulgar. Again, thanks for the insights!

All the best,

Jason

Hi Jason,

I fully agree.

How can a company pretend to be social ignoring the employees?

From our point of view, employees are not only important for marketing, but also to make the company attractive for new employees. The attraction of the best talent is critical for the long term success of any company.

The engagement and participation of the employees are the best tools to build up an employer branding image, and that where the real Recruitment 2.0 begins.

Good post!

Regards

Xavier

Hi Xavier, 

Thanks for the comment!  Very good point about attracting the best talent, well said!

All the best,

Jason