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What can we learn from world-class companies that are successfully leveraging job satisfaction into big time brand benefits? 86% of Americans are finding satisfaction in their jobs, which is an improvement of five percentage points since 2013, according to the Society for Human Research Management 2014 report.
Leading brands recognize that in today’s world of social media, employee advocates are an essential part of the company’s marketing mix. But brands cannot just sit back and wait for employees to wax ecstatic about them on social media. Brands need to channel that employee passion into a marketing tool that has a real, measurable impact.
Here are three simple action steps brands can take to get the process rolling:
1. Create an Employee Advocacy Program:
Employees who believe in a brand are already motivated to see it succeed. They will rally around a program that is designed to give them an active roll in their brand’s success.
One of the most effective ways to create an employee advocacy program is also the simplest: be transparent. Keep your employees “in the know.” It’s important to communicate what is coming up. Is a new product launch on the horizon? In an atmosphere of transparency, everyone understands the brands’ goals. Encourage and practice an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect so that employees are proud to be part of the process.
With an employee advocacy program, executive support is a must. Managers can’t expect employees to act as advocates for a brand on their off-work hours; managers must structure time within the workday where employees can actually participate in the program.
It’s also essential that such a program have its own advocate, someone within the company with the ability to “make things happen,” to spearhead the effort.
2. Support Social Media Usage
The idea of giving employees free reign on social media may seem a bit counter-intuitive. After all, one misworded tweet can derail a brand faster than a dozen consumer complaints.
Studies show that 50 percent of all employees already post messages on social media about their employers. With the click of a button, an employee can send a tweet to his or her 3,000 followers—each of whom in turn has the power to send it to his or her 3,000 followers. A single tweet can travel the world with a speed that borders on unbelievable. No wonder some brand managers hesitate to encourage social sharing. The instinct is to clamp down on what employees can and can’t say, share, or do on social media.
But experts say that’s the wrong tact to take. Companies like Nokia are encouraging employees to speak freely online across social media networks. Let them answer questions on a tech site forum (the caveat being, of course, that they are actually qualified to answer those questions. And if they’re not, make sure they have the resources to do so). Let employees use their expertise about your brand to write a blog post for their LinkedIn page. Give them interesting tidbits they can share with their Twitter followers. This gives employees the power to be real brand ambassadors.
The key to the success of this approach is ensuring that the brand’s overall main message is communicated. This goes back to the core of the employee advocacy program: frequent communication, a clear understanding of the brand’s mission, and a share investment in the brand’s success.
3. Incentivize Employees
As passionate as an employee may be about your brand, it’s still important to keep incentivizing them to be a brand advocate—while ensuring that their advocacy is sincere and not just done for their own personal gain.
So instead of offering rewards such as a monetary bonus, some brands incentivize engaged employees with internal recognition, paid time off on birthdays, or access to exclusive conferences. Other brands utilize contests, leaderboards and prizes. Some “gamify” the experience with certifications and badges to make brand advocacy fun for employees.
Brands and Employees Benefit
Most people who are happy with their jobs tend to talk about their companies in a positive light. Employees who feel like partners in a brands’ success, rather than just workers slogging through yet another day, are willing to go above and beyond to help a brand achieve its goals. They just need the freedom, support, and above all, open communication to do it in the most effective way.
What makes your employees good brand advocates? Or, are you in need of tips to get you over the hump? We would be glad to respond to your questions or comments.
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