Making Your Employees Your Influencers

With the right perks, your own employees will be the best influencers for your brand!

You may not have a huge marketing budget or a Madison Avenue advertising agency to support your marketing efforts, but there is one competitive advantage you have that no other business does – your employees.

Let’s face it: Whether it’s a conversation on the soccer field or dinner with friends, we all talk about the companies we work for and the products and services they provide. That collective word of mouth has a significant impact on the reputations and bottom lines of companies of all sizes. What’s changed over the years is that technology has now given everyone the power to communicate to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Today, you don’t need to have the deep pockets of Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch to create your own media network; you simply need a Facebook account.

Surprisingly, companies often overlook the role employees can play in influencing the customers they’re trying to reach. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you want to know more about a company’s products and services, who would you trust: an anonymous online reviewer or a friend or neighbor who works at the company? Or maybe it’s a friend of a friend or neighbor who works at the company. Put simply, when your employees speak, their social networks are listening.

Your employees know the business better than anyone and they can be a strong asset in helping generate brand awareness and consideration of your products and services. If you give them the right structure and support, employees could be one of your most valuable marketing resources. Here are seven steps you can take to turn your employees into extended members of your marketing team.

1. Communicate the vision.

If you asked your employees to tell you the vision and mission of the company, chances are they would each articulate that message in a different way. Make sure your employees understand the value you are providing to your customers. This message should be consistently reinforced in communication from senior leadership and managers so employees can clearly articulate it to their networks. It’s important that everyone is speaking from the same page when it comes to “who we are” and “what we do.”

2. Give permission.

It’s common for employees to hesitate when sharing information about their employers on social media, as they may be concerned that it could get them into trouble. When social media first became popular, many employers banned its use at work because it was a distraction. If you want your employees to post, tweet and snap about your business, you’ll need to relax those rules.

3. Provide guidelines.

Issuing a social media policy of dos and don’ts will also help drive engagement. Make sure your employees know what they can and can’t share publicly, as well as how to properly refer to the company and your products. If there is specific language they should not use, be sure to let them know that as well.

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4. Create great content.

The content you create is the driving force behind what your employees will choose to share on social media. You must create compelling and relevant content that will inspire employees to spread the word. Company news, articles and press releases will work well, but infographics, videos and behind-the-scenes looks at the company will work even better.

5. Make it easy to share.

Create a weekly email that includes all shareable content (news, blog articles, photos, videos, etc.) that employees can share. Include sample posts, tweets and hashtags they can use. This will ensure your employees are sharing news that is timely and accurate. Encourage employees to follow, like and share the company’s social media updates.

6. Let employees contribute.

Offer employees the chance to contribute to the company’s blog content. When employees are in the public spotlight, it’s more likely they will share the content with their friends, family and peers. Point out to your employees that while they’re helping to promote the company, they’re also working to build their own personal brands.

7. Create a competition.

If you have a product launch or other big news coming up, let your employees help you create some buzz around it. For a little extra encouragement, create a contest and reward for the post that gets the most likes and shares.

If your employees enjoy what they do, they can help you get the word out and spread that excitement to others. These activities could have an impact on awareness, sales and recruitment without adding any additional cost to your marketing budget.