Just Ask! Tapping Employees As Your Social Media Brand Ambassadors

If you are responsible for employer branding, you should understand that your employee base is a treasure trove of untapped engagement potential. Here are a few mind-boggling statistics from Hootsuite:

8X jump in social media engagement when employees share content

92% of your employees’ followers are new to your brand

24X more social shares when employees share original content vs. when a corporate branded social channel shares the same information

With numbers like that, it’s clear why you should not only be participating in social media as a brand, but encouraging your employees to engage as well.

You may have a couple thousand followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn, but what if you could amplify that reach to tens of thousands?

Social media is all about reach, impressions and engagement. Unless you have millions and millions of followers (a’hem, I’m coming for you @KimKardashian & @taylorswift13), you typically have a finite number of folks you can organically and immediately reach with a social media post.

Most of us regular people don’t have the luxury of posting something to social media and within seconds having thousands and thousands of likes, comments, favorites, retweets, shares, regrams, etc. All engagements amplify your original content, helping it reach new eyes.

All companies, no matter the size, have built-in brand ambassadors who can provide infinitely more reach and possibilities for engagement.

There can be a lot of confusion around the meaning of these social media metrics, particularly “impressions,” which can differ by social platform.

Lema Kikuchi, senior data analyst for social analytics firm SumAll, makes it very easy with this memorable “formula”:

“How many people saw my post (for Reach)? How many times did my post get displayed (for Impressions)? How many times did people interact with my posts (for Engagement)?”

Think of your followers, and your followers’ followers…

Let’s look at an example. Your company’s branded social media channel has 2,500 followers. Your initial reach for a post is 2,500. Coincidentally, you rely on that base for initial engagements as well. Hopefully, the content you are posting is engaging (see what I did there…) and people want to interact with it.

According to Kikuchi, “The main purpose of social media marketing is to raise brand awareness, which means reaching as many people as possible and growing your audience.”

With that in mind, you can expand your reach by encouraging your followers to engage with your content. As people like, comment, favorite, retweet and share that content, it has the potential to expand far beyond its initial borders.

If just 10% of those 2,500 followers engaged with your content and shared it with their followers, you can easily see how one social media post could begin to snowball and gain significant momentum.

And when you think that 92% of your employees’ followers are new to your brand, that’s a huge amount of new people that can be easily introduced to your brand and start engaging with your content.

Your employees’ followers are a great place to amplify your message and broaden your base, because they already trust your employees due to the pre-existing relationship. You might be surprised to learn that according to a 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer study, a “regular employee” of a company is trusted by 49% of people. CEO’s are trusted by only 43%, while “company technical experts” are trusted by an impressive 67%.

When you really think about it, these numbers aren’t too shocking. Of course the corporate-branded channel is going to post and say great things about the company. That’s absolutely one piece of the social media or community manager’s role. But when Bill from accounting says the same thing, but in his own voice, it carries more credibility. So be sure to leverage those “regular employees” and subject matter experts.

Your employees are your greatest asset when it comes to social media marketing, and tons of businesses are missing out. According to the 2016 State of Small Business Report:

Only a third of small businesses ask employees to share content via their social media accounts

30% percent showcase their employees in their marketing materials

Only 26% ask employees to help create marketing materials such as blog posts and videos

Ask! Seriously, just ask your employees to participate and help amplify your brand’s message. Many times, and I’ve seen this first-hand, employees just want permission.

“Will my manager think I’m not doing my job if I’m posting to social media?”

“What if I say the wrong thing?”

“I don’t know what to say.”

Another great idea is to either purchase an affordable amplification and branding solution such as FirmPlay, or go grassroots and stick to good ol’ reliable email notification route, to alert your employees (or brand ambassadors) when you’ve posted content to social media.

I get it, social media is a noisy place, and content can easily get lost.

By asking employees to serve as your brand ambassadors, you are opening the gates to a whole new level of reach, impressions and engagement.

Bottom line, social media is here to stay, whether you like it or not. People are probably already talking about your brand; it’s up to you to help shape that conversation. For most service-oriented companies, their product is their people, and interacting with your people via social media makes sense.

By leaning on your employees as your best brand ambassadors, you can maximize the return on your social media investment.

Chris Skaggs is the co-founder of BODDHI Branding, a creative agency with a vision to authentically and creatively construct stories to help your brand grow. Digital and social media, branding, recruitment and content strategy are all functions Chris has developed building teams, processes and strategies from the ground-up. Dedicated to giving back Chris also co-founded Leighton’s Gift, a non-profit with a mission of turning a tragedy into something positive. He also serves on the boards of a variety of different organizations. A natural storyteller, Chris’ work and experiences have been featured on CNN, Marketing Sherpa, Thrive Global, CBS Radio, Recruiter.com and Glassdoor. Get connected online, @chrislskaggs.

Dad • Storyteller • Brand Builder ∙ Nonprofit Leader • Co-founder of #BODDHIbranding and #LeightonsGift • Head of Brand #TSProckstars

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