Sarah is the CEO of Tribal Impact, a specialist agency focused on activating employee voices & accelerating business impact on social media
The reality is, employees often have a collective social media reach larger than the brand itself. According to LinkedIn, total employee networks have 10 times more connections than a company has followers on the company page.
What’s more, their connections and followers are better quality. The human-to-human relationship is more trusted than an individual’s relationship with a logo.
According to Adweek, 76% of individuals surveyed (paywall) say that they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than content shared by brands. Moreover, 59% of those surveyed for an Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Study agree that an organization’s thought leadership is a more trustworthy source for assessing a company’s capabilities than the company’s marketing material.
In this digital age, public perception can swiftly shift at the click of a tweet combined with the viral nature of social media. Employees may not realize the impact of their actions until it’s too late. Either way, the complexity that surrounds the relationship between employee brand and employer brand is often misunderstood or ignored, but that’s a mistake.
Here are four practical ways organizations can support employee branding in such a way that it elevates the employer brand.
Step 1: Identify
Take a proactive rather than reactive approach to your employees on social media. Identify those employees that are driving engagement on social media. For B2B, start with LinkedIn and Twitter to understand who within your employee community is active, their audience size and the engagement rate they’re getting on the content they’re sharing.
Remember, it doesn’t matter which department they work in, the level of their role or the conversation thread they lead with—this is about identifying your most active employees, so you begin to engage them.
Step 2: Engage
Once you identify influential employees on social media, engage with them. This is your community of top advocates—they have an engaged network and influence. If you consult them, engage with them and enable them, they will be equipped to tell your brand story in a more human and accessible way. Engage your employee influencers as part of the communications process rather than be a recipient of it. Their engagement and buy-in can help amplify and reinforce the message you’re trying to communicate.
Step 3: Listen
Employee influencers connect to your audience in a different way than the brand. This is because they nurture relationships at a human-to-human level, built upon on authenticity and credibility. As your employees grow their influence, they may create opportunities to speak at events. And while they may not speak as an official spokesperson for the company brand, they can represent their own thought leadership.
This level of access, reach and depth of connectivity is a precious source of listening for brands. Listen to what they have to say, what they’re noticing in the industry and feed that into your business. It will support your content marketing, product development and employee engagement efforts.
Step 4: Support
Finally, bring your employee influencers closer. It’s not enough to identify, engage and listen to them. Empower them to build their influencer brand further by providing training, enablement and content creation support. Help them develop the skills to create their own content. Give them a platform to speak both internally and externally. Connect them with industry influencers. Showcase your employees internally to inspire others to become advocates and ambassadors.
Successful brands understand the immeasurable value that comes from putting employees in front of their logo. Authentically showcasing culture, through those that are closest to it, can win the hearts and minds of not just customers, but existing employees, future employees, partners and suppliers. If you have passionate employees who love your brand so much they want to sing about it on social, don’t throw away the opportunity. Embrace it.
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