This is a time of synergy: Viral is the new normal, everyone is a brand (whether they know it or not), and smart organizations are turning to employee advocacy. They’re leveraging the selling power of their most valuable spokespeople: employees. This vibrant interconnection between employers and employees is enabled by the new order of social media, among other forces. A global study of some 2,300 employees (ages 18–65) found that 50% of employees shared something on social media about their employer.
In this prevailing social, mobile and transparency culture, we’re blessed with endless access to information and image, and just as endless opportunities to use it. There’s always something to share, be it positive or negative: it can go either way. Based on circumstances, the synergy between employer and employee as brand advocate is a nice juicy handout; not only do we get people to work for us, we get them to rep us, too. But it’s a marketing dream that’s only as dreamy as you are able to make it. It’s only going to thrive if organizations know how to maximize the potential.
Let them. Everyone wants to stand out, and in these mobile social times, we are what we post. Everyone is out there building a personal brand: blogging, tweeting, doing the Facebook thing, writing, commenting, posting, or reviewing. Or all of the above: it is rare indeed to find someone who is not weighing in, though certainly some of us are better at it than others. Companies that consider every employee a potential brand ambassador are playing to far better odds.
Be open. A year and change ago, this post by a millennial on how to build a personal brand was pretty much cutting edge; within a few months, not so much. Here’s another reality: social is constantly morphing, and employees tend to use their own preferred online assets, not yours. So just because a 40-year-old manager doesn’t understand the impact of Snapchat, that doesn’t mean the savviest 20-something employees don’t. The site’s got more visitors (23%) than both Twitter (21%) and LinkedIn (20%), and in the past year, awareness of it among people age 12 and older has gone up from 60% to 71%. Caveat: nothing against 40-year-old managers.
Be transparent. Here’s where your company’s policy of genuine transparency will really pay off.