Brand ambassadors are great for business, morale and branding. Every company can benefit from brand ambassadors, but leaders aren’t always so sure where to start in identifying and developing them. Some will be hard to miss with their enthusiasm, while others will need some fostering.
Use Social Media
Social media strategist Jay Baer reported a serious spike in brand following on social media , as reported on Convince&Convert.com. In 2010, the percentage of Americans following a brand on any social network was 16%, that number has risen drastically to 33% in 2012. One in three Americans using social media were following a brand in 2012, and we suspect that number has only increased.
Social media is an excellent place to reach out to followers personally, and as an audience. Get people talking about the brand, products, services and culture by starting the conversation. Customers and employees alike are drawn to social media because it gives them a public voice that they didn’t have access to before.
Jeanne Meister, author of “The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today” said in a Forbes article:
“For companies embarking on seeing social media as an opportunity rather than a danger to be avoided, the question is not if your organization will go down this path, but when. Increasingly using social media to build a company’s brand will be a point competitive advantage in the global marketplace and developing a training plan is key to achieving this goal.”
The article offers several insights on implementing your own brand ambassadorship social media initiatives.
Turn to Employees
Popular trust and credibility survey, The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer , collected data from over 30,000 people and found that regular rank-and-file company employees have more credibility than executives. These are exactly the people you want connecting with clients and customers…or are they?
That is all going to depend on your employer brand and the culture that you establish. Your workforce can be your strongest army of brand ambassadors, or the worst enemy to the company name. Turn to employees, but only if they can turn to you. Investments in your workforce will always shine through in what they project. Expert on workforce leadership and Forbes contributor, Ekaterina Walter said:
“So how do you cultivate brand ambassadors internally? Well, it begins by identifying the core values of your company and your brand – who you are, what you do and what you stand for. Then, you can look to cultivate these values in your staff, by creating an environment where employees enjoy going to work and feel their efforts are noticed and rewarded.”
Start an External Referral Program
This means that referrals can extend beyond just current employees. You need to get friends, family members, and retirees involved –anyone that understands the culture of the company and is invested in its success. HR thought leader, and ERE contributor, Dr. John Sullivan said:
“By helping with recruiting, the non-employee friends of your firm may learn to better understand your firm and to appreciate you more. As a result, this referral relationship may further strengthen already existing business relationships.”
In this manner, you’re not only creating an educated team of ambassadors that are helping scout relevant talent, you’re fostering community relationships on behalf of the organization.
Employees, customers and communities are full of potential brand ambassadors. Companies simply need to find ways to reach out to them and develop their network. That being said, a culture and brand to be proud of is where it all starts. Brand ambassadors sing praise, but brand enemies can be just as loud.
Have something to say about brand ambassadorship? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!