When it comes to growing your brand, your company, and attracting top talent, your current employees are your biggest resource. The time to begin nurturing your current employees to become brand advocates is now. Not sure where to begin? No worries. Here are 5 ways you can cultivate brand advocates/ambassadors within your own company + put these ideas into action today!
Encourage Employees to Use Social Media
We’re in a digital age—so don’t get turned off if you see an employee on Twitter, Instagram, etc. Instead, encourage them to share on social media! Employees are the best resources you have to help foster a brand’s value on social. People who follow your company pages and your employees want to develop a connection on a more personal level. Empower your employees by directly communicating with them and saying, “Hey! We want you to get social! Share your life here at ___ with the world!” and to get them started, provide your teams with some fun media to share—like blogs your marketing team writes, graphics created in-house to promote various initiatives, jobs you’re on the hunt for, pictures, etc.
Action Item: Create an email blast to send to all your employees sending the message you want them to be social and share their life at your company! Then, attach a zip folder of collateral they can share to make it easy for them from the get-go—think any pictures or graphics they can share. In that same email, paste 5-10 links of blog posts from your company blog and paste 5-10 jobs your company is currently hiring for—encourage employees to share and show some love!
Tip: You may have some very traditional employees who are hesitant about being on social at work because “you’re not supposed to do that, you’re supposed to be working.” While this is true, providing them with the collateral you want them to share can help them feel like they are working and are benefitting the company—which they are! Get your people socializing.
Create a Company Hashtag
Piggybacking off of encouraging your employees to use social media, create a company-specific hashtag for everyone to use! At Kinetix, we use #KinetixTalent to develop community and promote the lifestyle that comes with working at our company on Instagram and Twitter. Having a hashtag that you “belong” to is exciting for employees and will make them want to use it! This is a subtle nudge to encourage teams to share the fun and positive things going on in the workplace.
Action Item: If you don’t have a brand-specific hashtag already, what can you come up with that your employees would love to use? Here are some ideas, just fill in the blank with your company name: #____Talent, #____Life, #LifeAt____ , #Team____, #____Squad. Whatever you come up with, make sure it has your brand name and also fits your culture—so, “squad” might just work for you if that’s the culture you live.
Tip: Once you create your work-life hashtag, go back to old photos on Instagram and add the hashtag to those photos. The point of this is to start “populating” that hashtag so it appears as though it’s a quality, popular, interesting hashtag! Then start adding the hashtag to new photos and encourage others to do the same—this way when an interested potential candidate who sees and clicks the hashtag, it looks like it’s been used for a long time and employees are active and engaged! A little hack to trick the system—but totally worth it.
Create a Sense of Ownership in the Goals of the Company
How can your employees help push the company forward? People love to work for a company that appreciates their ideas. It’s common for your standard employee to feel like the little guy or gal—like their thoughts and ideas don’t matter, because who are they anyways? That’s a real fast way to create distance and alienation with employees, whether it’s intentional or not. Brand advocates are those employees who feel like a real part of the company—they want to share ideas, be involved in decisions, go the extra mile, etc. If you provide this opportunity as a company, engaged employee brand advocates will be proud to represent and subtly advertise your brand online + social.
Action Item: Share your company vision, mission, and goals with employees. This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many leaders feel like it’s not necessary to share and make a big deal out of company goals with employees. So, not only is it necessary—it’s essential for your teams to know this information. It creates a sense of belonging and understanding of where the company is headed and how your people can be a part of reaching those goals.
Tip: Not only should you help employees understand the company better, try to understand your employees better. Host a focus group to meet with groups of employees to hear their ideas, thoughts on the company, any feedback they have on certain topics you discuss during the focus groups—this is gold right here. Not only will your employees feel like you care and they are being heard, but you can get to know your people better and use the information you gain to make your company an even better place to work. This is a surefire way to turn employees into brand advocates and have them feel like you are all on the same team!
Invest in Employee Wellbeing + Recognize Internal Awesomeness
Taking care of your people—it’s as simple as that. Your employees spend 40+ hours a week at work, so let’s make it enjoyable while we’re at it! Companies who give attention to employee well-being see lower turnover, less absenteeism, and high business productivity—that’s worth it, right? This is a great way to drive participation and encourage employee engagement. At Kinetix, we rock at employee wellbeing (not to toot our own horn or anything, but TOOT.) We host pop-up happy hours, monthly recognition awards, gather for weekly shout outs in our break area (aka—The Peach Pit), and we’ve even been bringing in a yoga instructor a few times a month to get our Namaste on at the end of the day.
Action Item: So what can you do? After your focus group session, you will have gathered valuable insight on what’s important to your employees. Think about that—and think about your employer branding benefits you have, like flex life or paid volunteer hours. Plan to start with 1 well-being initiative (yoga session or volunteer hours) + 1 internal event (happy hour or potluck lunch.)
Tip: Let’s say you go with the paid volunteer hours, as an example! Let your employees schedule a time to volunteer, but encourage them to wear your company t-shirt and post pictures during their volunteer time on social and use your new company hashtag! And during any in-house pop-up happy hours, weekly shout out gatherings, etc.—encourage the team to take pictures of the event, with each other, or even selfies and use the hashtag when posting on social.
Lead by example
This is most important—how do you expect your employees to be passionate about your brand if you’re not? Passion trickles from the top down, and leaders need to be involved too. So if you’re a leader or manager, join in on all the fun. Post photos, use the hashtag, share on social, join in on the happy hours, etc. Practice what you preach.
Building the brand from the inside out and developing brand advocates out of your employees can take time. It’s not a quick fix and does require consistent practice. If you haven’t started developing your employees into brand advocates yet, it’s not too late to start! They will be happier, stick around longer, share your brand with their networks, and all of this good stuff will lead to potential candidates knocking at your door to join your awesome company!