Should Your Employees Become Brand Ambassadors?
Should you ask employees to become brand ambassadors through their personal social media activity? Universally: No. Selectively: Yes.
To explain why being selective – highly selective – in appointing brand ambassadors is good business, there are a few different aspects that need to be addressed.
- The nature of an employee’s personal social media image may not be consistent with your brand.
- Employees may prefer to keep their social media communication personal, and therefore resent or ignore attempts to have them weave a corporate branding messaging into their personal social media activity.
- Employees may have a poor social media reputation or not really know how to use social media effectively.
- Employees may have no interaction with the segments of the market you’re trying to reach. This is particularly likely in B2B, where the audience is often quite limited and specific.
- Should an employee become disgruntled, he or she may be tempted to share negative information and opinions about your brand.
- Employees may inadvertently share proprietary information in their ambassadorial communication – a significant worry for B2B firms.
- Ambassadorial duties may become a distraction from other, more important work.
- Speaking of work, a company-wide brand ambassador program necessitates a company-wide incentive/compensation program – a program that may be extremely difficult to create and even harder to administer, because the value of brand ambassadorship is difficult to calculate.
Lack of Knowledge
Employees may have no idea about how to present your brand, since doing so requires natural skill as well as in-depth training in marketing communication.
The following laundry list of positives is helpful in determining what you are looking for when selectively recruiting employee brand ambassadors. The ideal candidate –
- Has a personal social media image that is consistent or at least compatible with your brand
- Has a strong social media reputation and knows how social media works
- Is excited about being part of the program
- Is a skilled communicator and has received adequate training
- Has contact and influence with your target audience
- Is an employee in good standing with a long and strong history with the company
- Has enough common sense and business judgment to know what not to talk about
- Has the time and energy to perform ambassadorial activities without compromising other responsibilities
Regarding compensation, a selective program gives companies more latitude in the structuring of how brand ambassadors are rewarded. If only a handful of employees are involved, not only can compensation be personalized, but also the nature and extent of their activities.
Creating a brand ambassador program is a long-term commitment that requires a lot of energy day-in and day-out. For that reason, a firm will make much more progress with a well-organized, revved-up cadre of brand ambassadors than with an army of confused or disinterested individuals.
Is an internal brand ambassador program worth the effort? Yes! A firm’s brand ambassadors give the organization a huge boost in credibility, persuade potential customers to purchase, encourage existing customers to purchase in greater volume, and become even more loyal and enthused employees than they were before.
Main photo credit: Brett Jordan
Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director of StraightNorth, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Downers Grove, IL. Brad writes frequently on B2B Internet marketing topics and is a regular Forbes and Carol Roth contributor.