We take a look at how your employees or team-members can become informed and capable brand advocates. All it takes is a little training and content marketing.
Someone watching your back, someone fighting in your corner, someone bearing your flag - these are the kinds of people a brand needs for visibility and positive buzz. Securing someone like that can be a struggle, but there is an often underutilized resource that can make life easier – and you’re sitting right in it.
Your team members, your staff, have an extensive collective network through their personal social media channels. Of course, what they post and share is up to them; they share the content that is relevant or interesting to them. So what if we can grow their pride in the brand, and make it so they are interested enough to want to discuss it after clocking off? This week’s Keyword is Brand Advocacy, and we’ll take a look at how your workforce can grow into a fleet of informed advocates.
People want to learn. Every day we learn something new, but it’s the valuable lessons that give us the sense of personal and professional growth. Obinna Ekezie, CEO and co-founder of Africa’s leading full-service travel company, writes for Forbes on the matter of training. “Employees who are continuously trained and learning will naturally have increased morale and love for their jobs,” he says. “Education is the root of everything, and the more knowledge employees are equipped with, the more capable they will be in accomplishing their own personal goals.”
By arming your employees with the knowledge and tools they need to improve their performance, it also boosts their morale and positive association with their workplace. IBM’s thought leadership program is a perfect example: it gives employees the chance to learn how to blog while encouraging their creativity and collaborative skills. To date, around 2,000 posts have been published under the program, all by employees from various teams and departments.
"Employees who are continuously trained and learning will naturally have increased morale and love their jobs."
– Obinna Ekezie, Co-founder and CEO of Wakanow.com
B2C writes that content marketing can be used as a means to train your employees, but perhaps another, more organic angle to this is that training your employees is actually a form of content marketing. Prioritize the growth and development of your team, not the importance of advocating the company or brand - employees who feel valued will be inclined to do that anyway.
In the case of IBM's thought leadership program, staff were trained to create content themselves. As B2C points out, it's also possible to provide employees with content they can share. Remember, certain content is best suited for certain channels. For example, articles with a more professional tone might find a better audience on LinkedIn, while less formal content might be more at home on Facebook or Twitter.
On brand advocacy, Hootsuite, says:
- 92% of people trust brand advocates
- 9 out of 10 consumers trust their friends and family members' recommendations more than anyone else's
- Just 2 out of 10 consumers trust online ads
Forbes lists seven ways to identify and engage brand advocates; what’s interesting here is that many of these can be quite easily applied to your employees. Points five and seven for example essentially translate to incentivizing; awarding prizes or just stocking the company fridge with goodies are potential ways to reward high volumes of post shares or well-written pieces. Point six in the list is “feature them in your blog.” This is especially applicable in our case because not only is it easy to make time for an interview with someone internally, but it makes your employees understand that you value the work they do. In short, this is a great resource for solid content that might also score you one more brand advocate.
Part of Hootsuite’s suggestion for building a brand advocacy program is to include your employees. They point out that 52% of consumers think of employees as credible sources of information about a business. Positive messages are going to hit home harder if they come from both your customers and your employees.
Let’s not forget, work is a considerable portion of our lives, so it’s no surprise we’re inclined to talk about it at home with the spouse, or at the bar with friends. Since the initial costs involved in training and marketing to your own employees is minimal, it's a great investment to ensure those conversations are positive. Furthermore, these costs are far outweighed by the outcome of a capable, informed, equipped, and passionate team. Training your employees and giving them a say increases their positive feelings for the company – in other words, by equipping them to advocate the brand, you’re already developing their willingness to do so.
Need a hand securing your brand advocates?
- Hootsuite: 5 Common Brand Advocacy Challenges and How to Solve Them
- Hootsuite: How to Build a Brand Advocacy Program
- Business 2 Community: How Content Marketing Can Be Used to Train Employees
- Forbes: Seven Ways To Identify And Engage Brand Advocates
- Forbes: Your Success Starts With More Frequest Employee Training