The other day, I attended a Linkedin/TNS webinar called 4 Essential Tips to Convert Your Employees to Brand Ambassadors. The title of this blog post and the webinar both suggest that brand ambassadors are indeed something every company should strive for.
However, before I dive any further into the reasons behind becoming a brand ambassador, and the tips to converting your employees into them, I'd like to define what a brand ambassador is. In short, a brand ambassador is an engaged employee that is aware of the employer's brand and possesses the required skills to spread the word about his or her attachment to the employer forward to his or her networks.
What is a brand ambassador?
Now that we know what a brand ambassador is, we probably want to know what's in it for the employer? The single most important aspect for the employer, in my opinion, is that talent attracts talent. Everybody wants to work with bright minds and to be an important part of a winning team. The question then becomes, how can a company showcase their talent brand?
One of the key takeaways from the webinar addresses the above-mentioned question spot on. According to the webinar, employees need a couple questions answered before becoming brand ambassadors. Employees need to understand what sets their company brand apart, what makes their company a great place to work, and maybe most importantly, what type of talent does the company need to succeed and keep delivering on the brand promise?
Your employees form a big part of your employer brand
As much as employees need education on the distinct employer brand, they also need education on how to display their awesomeness to others. One of the simplest ways a company can do this is to ensure employees know how to give a good representation of themselves on Linkedin. A personal profile on Linkedin is tightly connected to the company profile, and by giving a good first impression of themselves, employees reflect positively on the company brand as well. Great employees make for a great company.
In the first paragraph, I mentioned that brand ambassadors are engaged employees. For a company to be successful in producing brand ambassadors, they need strong leadership buy-in that will motivate the employees to participate in the mission. Leadership's role in the conversion process is to encourage participation by reducing fear, providing exemplary stories, and giving recognition to the pioneers. According to a case study of one Fortune 500 company, employees feel that a strict social media policy restricts employees and limits their ability to act as brand ambassadors. Furthermore half of the employees would be willing to spread more positive work related experiences if only they were encouraged and showed how to. A great example of making sharing such stories easy comes from Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce. He wrote a simple email asking the employees to spread Salesforce's open positions to their networks on Linkedin and on other social media. As a result of his request, the job openings were visible to 159,000 people on Linkedin alone.
To summarize all this, a company should go out of its way to remove all obstacles preventing its employees from growing into brand ambassadors. By focusing on employee engagement, educating employees, and encouraging the sharing of authentic stories, companies can leverage the most important recruiting resource they have, their own employees.