An organization’s brand is the general identity the public associates with it. Companies traditionally establish brands through marketing.
However, it’s also necessary to remember that employees also represent your brand to their friends, family, and anyone else they interact with. Turning employees into enthusiastic brand ambassadors helps companies maintain strong, positive identities.
These tips will help you achieve this goal. If you’re an HR professional trying to encourage your employees to represent your brand in a manner that benefits the organization, keep them in mind.
Introduce Them to the Brand
Employees can’t become brand ambassadors if they don’t feel they’re truly familiar with the company’s identity in the first place. Making sure you introduce your business’ overall vision, values, and goals is key to ensuring employees represent those values in their work and personal lives.
That’s why it’s a good idea to incorporate some form of introduction to the brand during the onboarding process. Familiarizing workers with the organization’s values early is the best way to engage them with your brand.
That said, there are probably experience employees whose onboarding experience did not include this type of exercise. Offering a training session for current workers is also a necessary step. You want to make sure all employees are engaged with your brand, not just new hires.
Let Them Talk About the Company
Even employees who may feel they have a solid understanding of (and positive relationship with) a company’s brand may still be reluctant to express it in their private lives. This is particularly the case if they feel that any mention of the company on social media could jeopardize their employment status.
Review your current guidelines for discussing the business on social media. Obviously, you want to make sure employees don’t post anything negative. However, you also want to make sure any social media rules are loose enough that workers who want to celebrate the company feel comfortable doing so.
You may even mention this directly during training sessions. If you simply make changes to the rules in the employee handbook, you can’t be certain your workers will notice them unless you make a point of announcing these changes formally.
It’s also worth noting not everyone knows how to use social media effectively. That’s a major reason companies such as Zappos actually hold training sessions on this topic. They teach employees how they might share positive information about their work experiences on Twitter. If you want employees to be brand ambassadors, you need to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to do so.
Give Them Something to Share
Engaged employees will ideally share their positive experiences with your brand in their own unique ways on social media. You don’t want to explicitly tell workers what to share. For example, suppose an employee has a great experience at one of your company events. He or she should feel comfortable discussing it on social media without feeling required to check if that’s on the list of “approved topics” beforehand.
Still, it’s helpful to provide employees with branded content they may wish to share with family and friends. This may take the form of blog posts, official Instagram pictures, and any other type of content it seems natural for your business to generate. Sharing this content with employees boost the odds that they’ll share it on their own social media accounts.
You might also consider giving employees opportunities to generate content. Allow them suggest blog posts or submit Instagram pictures. They’ll be more likely to engage with your brand positively if you let them play an active role in defining it.
Recognize Their Efforts
Recognizing employees has been shown to be a simple but effective way to boost engagement. When you let employees know you appreciate their contributions, they’ll feel they have a more positive relationship with the company, and thus, with the brand.
It’s particularly important to acknowledge when employees make a point of representing your brand positively. This helps to solidify the idea that this type of sharing is not only permissible, but encouraged.
Your brand is essentially a collection of values that form your company’s identity. Simply stating those values is not enough. Businesses also need to actually embody them. Employees won’t feel the urge to represent the organization’s brand if they feel the company doesn’t genuinely live up to its stated ideals.
As an HR professional, you can identify ways for the organization to demonstrate that it truly adheres to the principles of its brand. By doing so, and by giving your employees permission to discuss the company in their personal lives, you’ll extend your branding beyond simple marketing. That gives you a major competitive edge.