Businesses pour an incredible amount of time and money into creating a positive chatter on social media. And while business development reps and account execs see a boost in return, marketing is stuck spending time and money figuring out the what and how. Should we create an ebook? Maybe a video? Will that fit well on the blog? Should we distribute this on social? Through email? Ads in the yellow pages? (Just kidding on that last one.)
But what if there were people, who knew your company better than anyone else, who actually craved the chance to spread your message?
Employee engagement ideas create employee advocates. Advocates become addicted to your brand. And brand addicts scream your message across their many social platforms online – organically spreading your marketing reach to all of their friends, family, neighbors and, really, anyone else who’ll listen.
On average, your employees have around 10 times more connections on social media than your brand has alone, according to a study from Social Chorus. That means your company with 250 employees on payroll can easily reach some 2,500 more people than your marketing department alone by creating brand advocates. A wider audience offers up a larger interest and a stronger start into the sales funnel. And, extra reach is helpful in creating a brand impression fueled by authenticity.
And getting the people who know your brand best to talk about it, in their own language, at their own free will, creates a better connection for prospects. In a 2015 Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today survey, more than 79 percent of respondents with employee advocacy programs in place reported boosted brand visibility. And 65 percent saw improved brand recognition, while 33.7 percent had stronger brand loyalty. Your people are powerful. They have reach and they have influence. So help them become addicted to your brand with a list of employee engagement ideas.
5 Steps to creating a brand addiction
Like my friend Jay Baer says, advocacy is born from culture. It doesn’t come from new technology or your latest marketing venture. Instead, it’s rooted in your employees’ wants and needs. Forget about the company and its shareholders for just a second, and you’ll see the people. It’s about finding their individual motivators.
The culture should be natural and authentic. Don’t try too hard. Offering up required tweets or posts is not advocacy and does not create brand addicts. It’ll signal that you don’t trust your employees enough to find something to share on their own. And it’ll show you care more about amplifying the message through them instead of nurturing their part in the company’s overall success.
Create a culture so your employees are impassioned and excited about their company’s products, environment and workplace and they’ll want to talk to others about it. They’ll be proud of their contribution to your company and encourage others to buy your products or to apply for a job.
2. Stand out
Clearly define your brand standards and offer up employee engagement ideas to encourage participation in an advocacy program. You can spend countless hours and resources developing and promoting your brand to your customers, but how well do your employees really know their company brand?
In a 2013 State of the American Workforce report from Gallup, only 41 percent of employees said they knew what the brand was or how it was different from competitors. If you expect your employees to become advocates for their company, they have to passionately believe their brand is top dog. And how can they do that if they don’t fully understand what the company stands for and how to present it to the world?
Figure out what the most confusing parts of the brand are, then formally define the brand by aligning the mission statement, core values and key message of the company. Go a step further and identify the differentiators in your company. What makes you stand out?
3. Co-create guidelines
Guidelines encourage participation in advocacy. Be clear, but not too restrictive to counteract the culture of trust and freedom you’re trying to cultivate. Shy away from actually imposing guidelines, instead opting to crowdsource them if you can. Make employee engagement ideas easy to understand and easy to stick to.
Your guidelines should enable your employee brand addicts. Offer up advice on what to share and how. Give employees an idea of where to put content and an outline of the incentives that employees can benefit from sharing.
Remember, first and foremost, what your employees want to share is entirely up to them. Whether you want them to share your latest blog post, hottest specials or company culture tidbits, it needs to be something they feel is relevant to them and to their followers. If they don’t think your content is relevant, it’s a good chance they’re going to skip sharing it. Create content to share that supports your brand, has a viral spark, and has real, authentic value.
4. Set them up with the right tools
People may be posting already, with no incentives. But you have no way to measure the impact because it’s happening irregularly. Provide them with a reason and the means to discuss something on social media – then reward them for doing so. Give them the right content, at the right time (Sigstr can help with distribution), and offer up the right rewards.
Show employees their Like, Tweet and Share are important, and let them see their own value. According to the American Psychological Association, 91 percent of employees who felt valued said they were motivated to do their best work, compared to just 37 percent of employees who did not feel valued. And, 85 percent of valued employees said they’d recommend their workplace to others. Where only 15 percent of non-valued workers would.
See the impact your employees have. If your business is anticipating a new product release, or a hiring event, create a plan for communicating it internally first. Then, depending on what you’ve chosen as your primary business goal for the campaign, create employee engagement ideas to support it. If you’re looking to make the trending topics on Twitter, make a hashtag. If you’re target is share of voice, reward employees who’ve used multiple platforms in their messaging.
5. Co-create the experience
When you walk into an Apple store, an experience is immediately engaged by a T-shirt clad genius surrounded by the latest technologies. Or when a Lululemon addict shows up there for a yoga class. When a 30-something professional scans the barcode on a designer outfit at Burberry and it triggers a video of the designer storytelling about the materials and inspiration for the design – these are all co-created neurological addictive experiences.
They’re addictive because every time a customer co-creates the experience with the brand, they’re shaping the brand into the mood of the moment.
So co-create the same kinds of experiences when thinking of employee engagement ideas. It takes more than just a once-a-year holiday party to create an experience. Team outings – even for lunch. Or maybe a speaker series. Maybe it’s perks like a company yoga class. These experiences have value to your employees. They feel good, and because they feel good, your employees crave more. And they’ll share more, and more authentically.