Social media has changed the impact that company employees can have on their employers brand image. While in the past only marketers, sales people and customer servants have had control over the brand image it has now become the responsibility of every employee with a presence in social media (at least to some extent).
This is especially true for employees that use LinkedIn as one of the first things you see when looking at a LinkedIn profile is the employer’s name. With a few clicks, you can also find out everyone else who works at the same company thus making employees brand ambassadors even outside their own networks. It is also good to remember that your Facebook and Twitter also reflect on your employer's brand even if you don’t directly list your employer in those profiles.
Your online presence matters
When using social media you should assume that all the content you create will be public and might last forever. Have you ever tried Googling yourself? Can you tell who your employer is from the search results through your Facebook, LinkedIn, employer’s website or perhaps another website? If so, you are essentially acting as a brand ambassador for your employer in social media and your actions in these media reflect on the brand of your employer. This can be leveraged to the benefit of your employer by, for example, showing your knowledge by participating in LinkedIn discussions or by answering questions others have posted in LinkedIn Answers. It is also important to have a comprehensive LinkedIn profile where you list your accomplishments and showcase your professional career as this builds credibility for both you and your current employer. One of the most effective ways to build credibility to your LinkedIn profile is by having old clients, colleges, and business partners write recommendations for you as this puts their own brand value behind you.
Employer branding happens online
On the other hand, with Facebook you should be careful when listing your employer in your profile. By doing this, you are directly working as an ambassador for your employer's brand in this media and thus all the content you create reflects on your employer. Even if you do not list your employer directly in your profile this does not mean that your content is not tied to their brand. It is easy to find out your employer from, for example, LinkedIn company profiles where all current employees of the company who have a LinkedIn profile are listed. By Googling these names, many people end up in the Facebook profiles of the employees where they look for more information on what type of people work for the company in question. This is why it is extremely important to make sure that your privacy settings are well in order and that there is no inappropriate content in your profile as this might harm your employers’ brand.
Social media offers, despite the above mentioned risks, a huge potential for brands to better their image by leveraging their own employees social media presences. According to one study, 61% of employees are proud of their employer and would be willing to share this information with others over social media. Also, 60% of employees would like their employer to offer some sort of training on how to use social media and how to share information related to the employer. Companies could thus easily utilize their employees’ large networks in marketing, sales as well as bettering their company brand and employer image.
Organizations and social media
Unfortunately, many companies have still to realize the potential this offers. Many companies are trying to limit the use of social media by, for example, blocking Facebook on company computers. I think this is the wrong direction to take and can even harm the brand of the company when dissatisfied employees tell of their dissatisfaction with the company policy in social media outside their work time. Anyway, even if Facebook is blocked on the company computers you can always access it quite discretely with the smartphone found in your pocket. Why would a company not rather leverage this resource to the companies benefit by training the employees in smart social media use that betters the company’s brand image?
Thanks to social media, all company employees are now responsible for the brand of their employer. With good training, the employees can be a very valuable resource in bettering the brand image. Many employees would like to share positive information on their employer but are not aware of how to do it or what they are allowed to do and what not. With training, the employees will understand these things and be able to act as effective brand ambassadors for their employer. Social literacy is indeed a competitve advantage.
Contact us if you would like to train and enable your employees to become effective brand ambassadors for your company!