Help Employees Develop Effective Leadership Skills and Turn Them Into Advocates

Are you looking for a group of passionate and enthusiastic brand ambassadors? Ideally, these would be those with deep knowledge of your brand, extensive experience with your products or services and an articulate understand of their functionality and best features.

You should start with your own employees.

The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that employees are trusted much more than CEOs or boards of directors when it comes to credibility about a product or service. Rank-and-file employees are more approachable and seem more like “regular people” than corporate bigwigs.

Tapping into your employees’ social media networks and personal connections extends your marketing efforts inexpensively. The fact is, they already are ambassadors. A recent study reported 50 percent of employees had shared something about their company over social media. The opportunity is to provide them with the training and tools to be more effective in spreading the good word.

Effective leadership makes the difference
In order to be strategic in using your in-house brand ambassadors, corporate leaders need to trust that employees will do the right thing. Armed with useful information, employees who choose to do so will be authentic in their portrayal of the key messages. While it may not always be polished, layered in marketing-speak, and crafted by a copywriter, that’s OK. Having the information come in an employee’s own voice is more effective and rings truer.

How do executives create the right environment for such advocacy? Here are four tips.

1. Encourage social media use
Companies should encourage employees to use social media and not restrict use to personal items. Some companies provide coupons and offers that employees can share via social media. Employees should not be penalized for talking about their work and in the vast majority of cases, will be prudent in their sharing.

Many people are eager to build a personal brand via websites, blogs, and social media channels. There’s usually no reason not to let your company be a part of that personal brand, too.

2. Be transparent
Trust your employees. Trust them to speak for you. Trust their judgment and knowledge of their own personal networks. Empower them with the product news, corporate information and timetables that let them speak on your behalf.

3. Listen to them
Whether the company is large or small, it is important to listen to what your internal brand ambassadors have to say. What are they hearing about your brand? What are their friends, neighbors and social media followers telling them? Heed these insights and encourage them.

4. Measure impact
There are all kinds of tools that can measure reach, social leads, likes, mentions, and engagement. Track which employees are particularly active and effective in their outreach efforts. Create metrics and share them with your brand ambassadors.

5. Say thank you
Your internal brand ambassadors are going above and beyond. Recognize the extra effort by acknowledging the work. Note the leadership skills they are displaying. A special happy hour or breakfast, small giveaways or newsletters can go a long way towards retaining that loyalty.