Your employees, your brand: the empowerment of brand ambassadors

María Vidal

18 November 2019

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Why work on the personal brand of your employees to generate greater brand awareness?

The rules have changed and it’s no longer enough to just have a good product or quality service. Now more than ever, marketing focuses on people; not just anyone, but rather on those who can best convey the essence of the brand: its employees. The challenge is to turn them into brand ambassadors and digitally empower them to be a bridge between the company and potential customers. 

This strategic approach is a unique opportunity to foster a corporate culture, using employees to humanise the corporate message. In a B2B organisation where the brand generates value through the credibility and relevance of its representatives, working your personal brand on social networks has become an indispensable tool. 

Unlike influencers, brand ambassadors are characterised by their long-term prescription, loyalty, commitment and emotional attachment. For this reason, they become a spokesperson for the company, which in itself adds credibility by simply focusing the voice on people, rather than the company itself. 

As Nielsen states in a global study, 83% of users give more credibility to people’s recommendations than brands. According to Hootsuite, people trust an employee more (53%) than a CEO (47%). In this context of building trust, developing a brand ambassador program becomes the key to connecting with the public. 

Why do you need an Employer branding program to boost your company’s positioning?

These are the main reasons why you should utilise your employees as brand ambassadors:

a) You will make your brand more human and credible.

Communication is developed from person to person, using a common language that allows the brand to connect more naturally with its audience. We go from communicating a purely commercial message to one that is closer, more credible and authentic.

b) You will increase the social reach and visibility of your brand.

If we have committed employees who want to contribute to the generation of brand awareness and reputation, the organic reach of our content grows exponentially. On the other hand, investment in “social ads” is increasingly necessary to counter algorithms, and internal ambassadors become the perfect spokespeople to win the battle for relevance.

c) You will drive traffic and quality conversion to your brand.

Achieving more reach and visibility boosts the number of clicks/visits, which translates into greater interest or purchase intention.

d) You will explore and connect with new audiences.

By working a content plan from the individual profiles, we can generate a much wider network of connections in which brand lovers are capable of impacting new communities and attracting potential customers.

e) You will be able to attract talent through social networks (social recruiting).

Our employees are a great incentive for attracting new talent. The content they share on their networks (especially LinkedIn), related to their projects, work environment or company values will authentically contribute to your brand perception. 

f) You will improve brand perception from the inside out.

Employees are real people that anyone can identify with, and they generate greater empathy. Hence, if they show that they’re motivated and proud to belong to the company, audiences will also feel closer to the brand, increasing engagement. 

g) You will boost the personal brands of your employees.

Transmitting internally what the benefits of the project are at an individual level is fundamental. We can reward the most participative employees through gamification systems, but the growth of your personal brand and positioning as opinion leaders and experts in your sector will be the most direct and relevant benefit. 

h) You will implement a model that’s profitable and economic.

Unlike a normal influencer campaign, this type of strategy not only creates a much more real link with the brand but is also a more efficient option to generate relevant content for the audience. 

How to start a brand ambassador strategy: AECOC case

At Good Rebels, we have not only carried out ambassador campaigns in the B2C field with the case of IKEA, but also in the B2B field with brands such as AECOC. In the AECOC project, our challenge was to get the employees to build their personal digital brand so that, through their expertise in the area, they could generate brand awareness through specific content for each of the work sectors. 

The first step in this project was to provide resources for the development of the ambassadors’ personal profiles, bearing in mind that in the long-term this will also benefit the company.

Through AECOC’s brand ambassador programme, which we have been working with for over three years, focusing on Linkedin as an amplifying platform, we have achieved several milestones:

Firstly, we digitally activated almost 40 employees, fulfilling our main objectives in terms of optimizing their Linkedin profiles and consolidating a community related to their respective areas of work.

We have also published specific content for each of the fields of work, leveraging the expertise of each person in charge beyond the heterogeneity of the corporate profile. This also helped to support the work of marketing the different services offered by the organisation through digital channels. 

And finally, not only have we greatly reduced the profiles with an absent personal brand, but we have also empowered and promoted the most participative profiles, who have become opinion leaders. Thanks to them, we have managed to humanise the corporate messages. 

To achieve all of the above, we defined a plan that consisted of several phases:

Phase 1: Demonstrating the positive value of working on your personal brand

As a company, we had to show participants the benefits and rewards they would get from participating in the program. We focused on working with the employee’s own digital identity, rather than the corporate identity. For this reason, ambassadors had to be aware of the real contribution that the programme could make to their professional positioning.

Phase 2: Creating a motivated team that feels free 

It was necessary to establish a relationship of trust based on:

  • Motivation: Ambassadors had to be motivated enough to take the initiative themselves. It was necessary to recognize the most participative profiles in order to maintain their commitment and make them an example for the rest of the profiles.
  • Freedom: They had to express themselves with the same voice with which they usually interact with their community. Our mission was to make them feel comfortable, accompanying them without establishing a strict and obligatory set of rules. The success lies in the fact that the profiles are now capable of self-managing and voluntarily publishing corporate content combining professionalism and personality.

Phase 3. Offering a training plan and continuous support.

Most employees did not have specific training on social networks and did not know how to take advantage of them, so we offered them resources from different channels and contact points:

  • Individual and/or group face-to-face sessions: we set up face-to-face training sessions in which we explained how each social network works and which are the most appropriate for promoting commercial objectives. We also shared and reflected on the main lessons learned and even shared with them the metrics obtained: what content worked best and should be enhanced, what content had to be rethought, and the latest trends or formats to exploit. We have currently started specific training courses that allow us to go deeper into specific topics: how to propose a digital strategy that supports the business or dynamization of digital events, among others.
  • Online documents: we offered complimentary material that ambassadors could consume at any time and thus offer continuous and long-term training beyond personalized sessions. 
  • Newsletters and virtual platforms: to this day we continue to favour access to corporate content through fast online platforms. This type of communication can also be complemented with reports of results, related articles, the latest digital news, etc.
  • Ad hoc meetings: in a phone call or Skype/Hangout format that allowed us to solve doubts or specific needs at specific times. In this way, we not only earn their trust but also reinforce their commitment. 

In short, carrying out a people-focused methodology allows us to connect with our audience in a closer and more credible way. If we also take into account that we are in an increasingly automated world, the human being becomes the tool that can make the difference. According to psychologist Adam Waytz, the most highly valued companies are those that strive to restore humanity rather than focus on work. In this sense, betting on employee empowerment should be at the strategic centre of any organisation.  

Who will join the movement?