5 ingredients for a successful employee ambassador program
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Avery Dennison’s blog.
I’m dating myself, but remember when “digital marketing” was called “e-commerce marketing?” To say things have changed is an understatement. With 90% of American adults having a cellphone and Facebook hosting 1.35 billion active monthly users, the digital landscape and the way we conduct commerce is forever changed.
That’s why it’s becoming more critical than ever for communicators and marketers to leverage all possible means available. At Avery Dennison, we’re looking for the most effective ways to maximize our story and messaging in digital channels.
About three years ago, we identified our employees as a prodigious opportunity to help drive awareness of our brand and launched an employee ambassador program, which we named Get Social. But it was more than mobilizing employees as advocates—and it’s more than social media channels too. We wanted to start a movement to embed social media into our very culture, so we designed a multi-year campaign to achieve this. The Get Social movement can be categorized into five buckets:
1. Get Social is employee education, which builds a foundation for ambassadors and helps them avoid pitfalls. It was important for us to create social media guidelines for employees. We wanted to provide fun, easy and intuitive tools, like “Do and Dont’s” and a workflow chart (both shown to the right), so employees would have clear steps and protocols for reacting to content in digital and social media channels. These and other resources were included in those social media guidelines.
2. Get Social is employees’ knowledge of major platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Sina Weibo, etc.) provided through a variety of informal resources, not policies or required tutorials. This can be seen through a comprehensive document we’ve named “Social Media—What to Know Guide,” as well as a set of basic to advanced educational videos we’ve launched this year and that are planned for years to come.
3. Get Social is employees sharing and having a little bit of fun. If employees are taking the time to give us insight, we have an obligation to share back those insights with them. It’s also reminding employees through different internal promotional vehicles such as flyers in hallways and elevators, email marketing, etc.
We developed infographics—which we shared with our employees—outlining results of data we collected from employee preferences on social media around the globe.
Using the same data from the infographic, we developed visuals and encouraged employees to share them within their own networks. You’ll notice we never tell employees to ask for the sale—that’s not the essence of social media. However, we are providing fun visuals to help engage and influence others and help incorporate our brand into the conversation in a positive, non-obtrusive and fun way—and therefore making our brand part of the conversation.
4. Get Social is centralizing all these useful tools and resources in one easy, intuitive and secure place. It seems obvious, but we’re all busy people working on a variety of priorities, so a central repository or intuitive employee flow can sometimes get lost in the weeds or be inconsistent.
5. And Get Social is employee branding and a chance to become a thought leader in our field(s)—we even have incentives in place to reward those that contribute compelling content. Early on, we realized a need for a platform to tell our stories, both internally and externally. So we incorporated the Avery Dennison blog into the movement. Why a blog? Easy—it generates leads, adds to our SEO value (or rank & relevancy), enhances the web consumer experience, facilitates better customer service and allows us to maximize rented channels, like Facebook and LinkedIn.
The Content Marketing Institute claimed that a whopping 93% of B2B organizations rely on content marketing for brand building and demand generation. Webdamsolutions.com found that 78% of CMOs think custom content (articles, white papers, blogs, etc.) are the future of marketing.
How are we differentiating our blog at Avery Dennison? I would argue we’re already telling our story with our websites (What do we sell? What is our history? etc.). We wanted the blog to do something different, to do something we’d never done before…to tell our story through the eyes and stories of our employees.
Everything I just mentioned involved one key word, “employees.” That is the X factor and the key to our digital success. After all, as I mentioned earlier, we have 26,000+ potential brand ambassadors ready to spread the word.
I thought I would go off on a slight tangent. We started to ask, “What if our senior leadership team were inspired and mobilized to be part of our story?” Well, that’s exactly what we’re doing. When you see the facts, a leadership mobilization strategy can benefit a firm by helping to acquire top talent, retain the overall workforce and build a social organization—which is essential to innovation, branding and differentiation. Did you know 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs had no social presence whatsoever—not even on LinkedIn? That sounds like opportunity “knocking at the door.” Still not convinced? You might be wondering, what are the benefits? Well, leadership mobilization helps to set the tone for a social business, it builds your own brand as a thought leader and expert, it puts a face on your brand and company—enter Richard Branson for the Virgin brand—can create opportunities to listen and learn, and opens up a new channel for communication such as crisis management.
We think we’re on the right track, but we aren’t the only ones. In January 2014, Smart Insights included Avery Dennison and three other B2B brands in an article titled “4 Inspiring Examples of B2B companies harnessing the power of social media for B2B marketing.” Even more recently, we were humbled with the award of “Best Use of Digital Technology to Enhance the Consumer Experience” by Innovation Enterprise.
The changes social media have made to our culture are prolific and have forever altered how people browse, research and build loyalty for brands. Clearly it’s a huge wave of opportunity; more importantly, the waves keeping coming and no two waves are exactly the same. So…if there is one thing I would ask that you remember from this blog post: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
Learn how to leverage your employees in your content and social media strategy. Attend James Moat’s session, “Mobilizing employees to get social for inspired storytelling.”
About the Author
James Moat holds the role of director, global digital corporate communications at Avery Dennison, a global leader in label and packaging materials and solutions. He’s a seasoned digital marketing strategy professional with two decades of experience bridging gaps between internal business partners, third parties and technology stakeholders.