#Opinion Showcasing brand love Inside Out: Leveraging employees as brand ambassadors

Sumit Lakhani

Sumit Lakhani, Awfis writes about the rising trend of brands relying on their large pool of employees to tell their stories representing the brand’s values, becoming influencers & ambassadors in their own right.

A motivated workforce translates into higher productivity, better reputation, and can boost a company’s bottom line. Staff ambassadorship programs complement traditional marketing efforts and help build a strong brand name using modern communication channels. Motivated employees are a company’s best resource, mainly when they are inspired to use trusted channels to reach an audience and deliver a powerful message that reinforces the key values of a company and its brand. 

In fact, customers perceive staff as more trustworthy than corporate marketing, and a brand ambassador is usually given more credibility and authenticity than organizations, as customers can identify with them at a more personal level. 

Staff also benefit from participating, as they can widen their professional network, gain valuable skills that are in high demand, and find new career opportunities. Businesses are more likely to enjoy higher retention rates and are more efficient at change management strategies that allow them to adapt their approach to the changing needs of the market. 

Here are a few ways organizations can organically buildtheir employees into their company’s brand ambassadors, to build not just brand affinity but also establish themselves as the employer of choice among a young and new pool of talent.

Engage them consistently

As brand ambassadors it is imperative that employees are involved and consistently informed of the company’s milestones such that they feel a stronger affinityto your organization. Keeping your employees in the loop helps them feel like a part of that achievement and they are more likely to share it within their social circle, be it online or offline. This helps garner brand visibility, organically without having to opt for paid mechanisms of content seeding which may often seem inauthentic to a modern consumer.

Employees can be consistently updated via regular emails, newsletters, townhalls and announcement led celebratory meetings, which also translate to great organic social media content.

Train them to represent your values

Ambassadorship programmes should train teams and bring them on board with brand values while also not being overbearing and allowing employees to maintain their personal views and values. For eg – At Google, most of their trainings are run through an employee-to-employee network called “g2g” (Googler-to-Googler). The “g2g” learning program is created to offer first-hand knowledge in different fields, from employees to employees. What makes the program so successful? Summed up in one sentence, it promotes a culture that values learning.

This training can be made more compelling through storytelling and by highlighting the human factor which is a key aspect in advocacy led marketing.

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Encourage them to share their experiences

Globally several leading brands encourage their employees to showcase a myriad of aspects of their work-life, team culture, and company processes via social media. Brands do this by creating internal communications activations that are unique and aesthetically pleasing such that they can be captured and shared.

Today, companies are adopting several mediums to emerge as ‘cool’ and ‘woke’ which makes them relevant among a younger pool of consumers and potential employees. To do so, a strong social media presence is vital.  Companywide hashtags are a great way to build visibility and also work wonders in building an organic presence. Thus, by empowering employees with the freedom to post their work experiences, organizations have the potential to reach wider networks and stakeholders, at the click of a button.

One successful method Adobe used to encourage employees to share their experiences was to create the #AdobeLife hashtag. Regardless of the sharing platform, employees were encouraged to use #AdobeLife when talking about the enviable lifestyle they enjoyed as a result of being an Adobe employee. This in turn created an image for Adobe to be of a company that cared for its employees.

Be Consistent in your efforts

It is essential for brand leaders to embrace the fact that ambassadorship programmes cannot be treated like a one-off effort, but rather an ongoing project that covers the entire sales cycle, from awareness-raising to decision-making, purchase, and loyalty building efforts. In line with this, one must consistently engage their employees through mutually beneficial mediums, in the long run.

Do something to break the clutter

To build ambassadors organically it is crucial that companies embrace outreach programs that are out-of-the-box and break the norm of conventional. In an era where every brand and its’ employees have a social media presence, generic activities will not allow a company to cut through the clutter and therefore causing a loss of information.

It is critical to creating engagement programs that not just represent your core brand values and offerings but are also novel in their thought and execution.

The article has been authored by Sumit Lakhani, CMO, Awfis

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