Before Fans, Turn Your Employees Into Brand AmbassadorsBy now you should know that leveraging conversations happening around your brand and turning some of your most passionate fans into brand ambassadors can really pay off. And while that brand advocacy can go a long way in making your marketing more relevant and effective, you might be neglecting one of your most powerful assets: your employees.

When you’re building an online presence, it’s easy to become hyper-focused on just one aspect of your social strategy — especially content. You’ve created volumes of great content, but getting in front of the right people can still be a challenge.Your employees represent an untapped resource that holds tremendous potential for your company to scale its marketing efforts.

Your brand ambassadors should include a healthy mix of passionate customers and employees. Here are a few tips to help turn your workforce into social advocates.

Educate Your Employees

Turning employees into ambassadors requires more than just the keys to a Twitter account. Your team should be the most informed when it comes to your brand. Do they know what your business stands for, or what your goals are? Educate your employees on your company’s history, its products, and its customer service policy.

According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, 41 percent of respondents believe employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business. If your employees aren’t sharing the right information, it can be more hurtful than helpful. Empower your employees by giving them the tools necessary to to be great ambassadors.

Furthermore, create a social media policy that encourages sharing and reduces fear. While it’s important for guidelines to be in place, don’t invent so many restrictions that your employees have to jump through hoops to publish a status update or tweet. This approach doesn’t encourage brand advocacy.

 Zappos, for example, has built its culture into every aspect of its business. As a result, the company has given its employees full freedom to talk on behalf of the brand to its customers or vendors. In fact, Zappos employees regularly speak at industry events about the things they are most proud of. If your employees are online talking about how much they enjoy their work, this is a good thing.

Make It Easy

Not everyone is as well-versed in social media as your marketing team. If you want your employees to become better ambassadors, you might need to provide some basic training. In doing so, you can help your team distribute your content with even greater confidence.

For example, when you share news with your employees through email, include some pre-formulated status updates and suggest that they use them when posting on social media. Not only will this help familiarize your team with the brand’s tone, but it’ll save them time — rather than having them draft multiple update options for review.

Most importantly, don’t make your employees search for content to share. Be open and regularly communicate with your team about new initiatives, priorities, and strategies. Encourage questions and give your team first crack at exciting company news, like product announcements. Not only will the information reach new audiences, but you’ll create a sense of shared ownership.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that internal social networks can be a great resource for sharable content. They also ensure that everyone is kept in the loop and up to speed on what’s going on within the company. Nokia, for example, uses social tools like this to keep its employees excited about the brand.

Your employees can help extend your reach in ways that your social team cannot — at least not alone. Chances are your team is already connecting with the people you want to reach. Grooming them into ambassadors can help increase the traffic, interactions, leads, and sales that are already stemming from those connections. For more general tips, check out our guide for launching a successful brand ambassador program.

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