Employees can be your organization’s most convincing brand ambassadors.
Having them speak favorably—and share branded content online with their friends and followers—is supremely valuable. Still, there are caveats.
At a recent internal communication conference in Berlin, the theme was “Matching Employee Activism and Internal Digitalization”—how digital communication helps your people do things better.
I’m a longstanding fan of using digital channels to help employees respond to and interact with their organization’s leaders and each other—sharing news and information to help them work faster, smarter and with greater ease.
It was refreshing to see the clever and creative ways that companies are using digital outreach to engage remote staffers toward improving customer service, reducing costs and fostering a sense of belonging.
Using the power of your people to promote your organization, usually via social media, is becoming mainstream. Communicators realize that what employees say or share about the organization they work for is generally trusted more than praise heaped by the CEO or other execs, so they are tapping into that potent messaging to improve their corporate reputation.
It all sounds great, doesn’t it? An army of advocates happily “liking,” “favoriting,” retweeting and blogging on your behalf—saving you thousands in paid media placements and giving your trust and reputation scores a loving lift in the process.
Before anyone gets started in earnest, here are three things communicators ought to consider:
1. Do your employees want to do this for you? Having engaged employees is a prerequisite, or you could end up with seeing the opposite of the desired effect. Tap into projects for which people are likely to support your approach. Start small to build confidence in what’s still a relatively new concept.
2. Your content should sparkle. Are employees going to want to share something that’s poorly written, designed or produced? Work closely with teams and functions who have an interest in seeing you succeed, such as external communications and marketing. Set high standards, and think like a consumer in the outside world. Ultimately, that’s what your employees are, and the consumers you reach through them are the people you’re courting. It’s still vital to know your audience and understand what’s relevant to them.
3. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. Arm yourself with data that demonstrate the reach and impact of what employees are sharing for you. Are those data supporting the goals you’ve set out to achieve? Check frequently, and adjust or even abandon the effort if it’s not working as you intended.
Are you developing an employee advocacy program in your organization? What tips and tricks would you add? Please offer your ideas and insights in the comments section.
Neil Jenkins is director of internal and digital communications at Coca-Cola Enterprises. A version of this personal opinion article originally appeared on LinkedIn.