People Power – Employees as Brand Advocates

In the aftermath of the Facebook news feed changes, paid advertising through the platform is predicted to increase in price and receive significantly less return on investment for businesses. Now more than ever, is the time to be utilising methods of promotion that are free, accessible, and often more meaningful than their paid counterparts.

In light of this, more and more businesses are relying on the people who closely follow their business, and already have an interest in supporting it, to help with marketing. And who knows the most about your brand culture and business after yourself? Your employees. Staff who are happy, engaged and passionate about what they do can be your most valuable spokespeople; they represent the company and already have a genuine level of interest. By giving your employees a voice, you can harness a powerful selling tool that should not be underestimated.

In 2016 Linkedin found that on average, your employees have an online network 10 times larger than your company’s follower base. Ninety per cent of business leaders see a direct connection between employee engagement and business success, and companies with high numbers of employees sharing quality content on social media were 58 per cent more likely to attract talent. Richard Branson famously said, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers”, and in the same way, if you endorse your staff, they’ll endorse your brand.

Using employees to promote your business can be very successful, but you should be cautious in making sure you have an up-to-date social media policy that all members of the organisation recognise. By creating brand guidelines for everyone to follow, you will ensure the tone of voice remains the same and communications follow company values. Staff must understand what they can and can’t share and be educated on the brand. A great way to do this and simultaneously encourage increased engagement is to introduce social media training. It is important that you can trust your staff to speak for you!

It’s in everyone’s interest to grow the company’s social media presence and increase its success, and organisations should harness this to its full potential. By making employees part of the brand, they will be more eager to promote it on their own network. John Lewis is a great example of a company that built a strong employee focused brand first, and then became a strong external brand that lives by its founding values.

This can be easily achieved by encouraging staff to contribute to the blog, celebrating key achievements or featuring employees on social media, and offering incentives or recognition, such as a prize for the most posts shared in a month. Friends and family promotions on certain days can also prove very successful. By prompting employees to associate with the business on platforms such as LinkedIn, they can build on their own profile.

Other free methods of advertising can include using testimonials, feedback and ratings provided by past or present customers. Paying attention to the activity on third party review sites relating to your organisation can be vital. Recent Trip Advisor data indicates that 53 per cent of consumers won’t commit to a hotel booking before reading a review. It is important to utilise the good reviews and rectify the bad, when possible always reply thanking the customer and responding to their comments. PR is a great way of promoting your business, and external recommendations have the power to make or break you.

The best things in life are free, so make the most of these opportunities to boost your brand!