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Employee Brand Ambassadors, a Business’ Best Friend in the Digital Age

FNBO Employee crowd photo

Employee Brand Ambassadors, a Business’ Best Friend in the Digital Age

Forty-two percent of consumers are active on social media, so it isn’t surprising that business owners are turning to channels such as Facebook and Instagram to raise brand awareness and reach potential new customers. In fact, social media has become an integral part of marketing as 49 percent of consumers depend on recommendations from social media influencers to guide their purchases.

When it comes to influencer marketing, however, you might find your strongest social media proponents are much closer to home. Employee brand ambassador or advocacy programs, turn trusted employees into social media influencers for the company. Selected individuals act as a positive promotor and personal spokesperson, engaging their own social media audience with a natural enthusiasm for your brand.

However, before you get started on an employee advocacy program, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the points below.

Getting Started with an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Advocacy research reveals that employees have an average of 1,090 social connections and five times the reach of corporate accounts. When looking at it in this light, establishing an employee brand ambassador program makes good business sense, particularly when you consider that 83 percent of people trust recommendations from friends, family and coworkers over other marketing formats.

Finding employee ambassadors within your organization can be accomplished through employee social media audits, casting calls and internal recommendations. However, because employee ambassadors represent your company, it’s important to select individuals that embody your brand identity in appearance and demeanor as well as those that embrace the same values and ethics as your business.

As you review potential brand ambassadors, you’ll want to look for a combination of attributes:

  • Employees who are active on at least one social media channel and have a good following, including high audience engagement with their posts
  • Individuals who focus on distributing positive messages that align with your corporate ethics
  • Those who are not affiliated with pages or accounts that conflict with your company’s core values

Remember, once an employee begins acting as an ambassador, they represent your organization even when engaging personally on social channels. Something as simple as an off-color comment could come back to haunt your firm, so ensuring that ambassadors align to corporate values and concerns should be a top priority.

Setting an Employee Brand Ambassador Program up for Success

Before initiating an employee brand ambassador program, it’s important to understand what you hope to achieve and to establish a plan of attack. A detailed strategy will guide future efforts and help you to identify which metrics to track when monitoring the progress of your program.

The next step is to determine a set of guidelines for ambassadors to ensure that employees are shining the best light on your brand. Establishing how often employees should post about your company and what type of posts are acceptable are two essential considerations, but also think about how you will monitor and enforce the guidelines you establish.

One highly effective approach is through the use of branded hashtags. Also, make sure that your company is connected to the employee’s private social accounts as a friend or follower, so that you can monitor references to your brand.

As you establish your employee brand ambassador program, think of how you will support employee efforts and inspire them to share consistently. The real value of having employee brand ambassadors comes from authenticity, so avoid the use of pre-scripted posts or sales pitches. Instead, consider creating educational content that employees can share on social channels.

According to Wharton professor Jonah Berger, who identified the characteristics of highly sharable content, your employees are most likely to share educational work that offers a practical application or content containing information they care about. Additionally, seventy-two percent of marketers report an increase in engagement when sharing custom content such as videos and blog posts.

Last, remember that engagement is a strong component of a brand ambassador program and should be a two-way street, so make sure you are consistently in touch with your employee advocates. Consider holding regular meetings to gain feedback and provide future direction. Establishing a Facebook group for your ambassadors is another way to communicate, share guidance and even offer post suggestions.

Employee Advocates, Friends in the Social Age

When it comes to social media marketing, employee brand ambassadors can help your company engage with new audiences more quickly. By some estimations, brand messages shared by employee advocates earn 561 percent greater reach than those shared on the company’s own social media channels. They receive eight times more engagement as well.

With outcomes like these, employee advocates could easily be your brand’s best friend in the digital age.

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