Trust is key for any brand that wants to become truly great. Through quality products, responsive customer service, and more, companies who effectively manage trust ensure that a promise will be fulfilled. But trusted brands aren’t created in a silo, and they’re not built by marketing teams. In fact, with many of the most trusted brands, employees may be leading the way.
Most brands know they need to ramp up the trust-building effort, and many have embraced educating employees on social media engagement as a worthwhile activity. The logical next step is learning how to programmatically activate your employee base on your behalf. In other words, how do you get them involved as ambassadors or social brand champions for your cause?
The Impact of Employee Credibility: What the Numbers Reveal
We know from the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer that consumers trust “a person like yourself” or a “regular employee” more than a company’s CEO. In fact, from 2009 to 2014, the credibility of a CEO as spokesperson increased 12 to 31 percent, while the credibility of the average employee increased 20 to 52 percent. That’s pretty remarkable, and certainly part of the reason consumers are drawn to Facebook and Twitter, often leaving company websites and product pages behind when seeking out trusted information.
The Edelman survey identifies “engagement” and “integrity” as two of the most important trust-building attributes. Brands are underperforming in both of these areas as employees are outpacing CEO’s by as much as 30 percent. It’s clear that employees have credibility and maximizing that trust is an opportunity for brands.
In a previous post, we talked about the importance of training employees on how to use social media platforms as tools for engagement. Employees who feel connected to the brand they represent can listen to customers’ needs and feedback, communicate freely, and entice others to start a conversation. When properly trained, they can pave the way for companies to truly become social, building brand awareness, loyalty, and trust. But when it’s time to move employees beyond social engagement, where do companies start?
The Logical Next Step: Building Brand Ambassadors
With the right training, encouragement, and process in place for measuring outcomes, leveraging employees as social brand champions is a smart strategy. Employees are having conversations and activating them makes sense. So how do you do it?
Create The Right Environment
Employees who sincerely enjoy where they work and are capable of answering questions or providing feedback can serve as the face of your brand. By encouraging them to create authentic, compelling content that informs, educates, and persuades, you can extend brand reach exponentially. Happy, engaged employees can reach deep into their own personal networks of friends and relatives, carrying brand messaging to thousands more than even the most aggressive marketing strategy. For companies, activating employees opens up networks that are far more active socially than the presence they can create by themselves. And that means more opportunities to insert brand messaging into organic conversations.
Encourage Employees To Do Social Activities On Your Behalf
As part of activation, Dell invites employees to engage in social activities on their behalf. When I worked for them, one of my peers was responsible for social activation of employees. She organized interested and trained employees into groups of social champions that would be evangelists of sorts. Employees typically have more combined followers than corporate accounts, and encouraging them to connect with prospects, customers, and influencers is key—particularly given the trust findings from Edelman. Among the key findings during my Dell days was that links shared by employees were clicked twice as much as links shared by the brand.
Employ Metrics and Measurement
With the goal of improved reach, an employee activation program should include a variety of metrics for tracking impact and success. How many employees are currently active on social media platforms and reference their employer in their bio? How many subject matter experts do you have to distribute and create content? Are you tracking those subject matter experts’ ability to drive traffic and revenue? What is the average number of clicks per post, and are you measuring your engagement and success moving the needle with influencers?
Turning attributes like trust into action through empowered social engagement creates a powerful business tool that a passionate employee base will want to get behind. For brands that want to go beyond basic training the logical next step is activating employees as brand ambassadors. Companies who move beyond engagement by encouraging, empowering, and activating their base are moving in the right direction—and social employees are leading the way.