Turn Your Employees into Your Best EvangelistsYour own employees are the best people to promote your business.
You may not have the biggest budget to spend on advertising and marketing, but there are plenty of free, effective ways to spread the word about your business. One of the best: enlisting your own employees.
After all, your own staff knows — and hopefully, loves — your business almost as much as you do. They should be built-in evangelists and brand storytellers.
Here’s how to encourage and incentivize them to help promote the business.
Ask them to like, share and comment
“Employees have outside networks that might have a need for your product or service, and by ‘activating’ them as evangelists you can tap into those networks,” said Bubba Page, CEO of marketing software company Outro.
Start off by asking employees to like, share and comment on content shared on your business’s social media accounts and website.
Jodi Ordioni, chief brand officer of marketing agency Brandemix, noted, “People want to help, and the first step is to have managers or senior leadership ask for their help and arm them with the tools, information and sharable content they need.”
You might also encourage employees to list your business as their place of work on their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
Invite them to create content
Beyond sharing existing content, encourage employees to create and share their own content promoting your business, such as selfies taken at work or videos of themselves using one of your products or services. These posts help put a human face on your business. And if a consumer sees an employee is promoting the business favorably and creatively, he or she may be more likely to become a customer.
Make it as easy as possible by providing staff with the products, setting or lighting. Also, suggest relevant keywords, taglines or hashtags to use in their messaging.
“The beauty of this tactic is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money to build a grassroots effort,” said Ordioni.
Be sure to lay down some guidelines about what kind of content is appropriate to share. Your staff should understand your brand’s mission and target audience, and their posts should be in line with both.
You wouldn’t want to pay employees for each tweet, Facebook post or Instagram video, but small perks such as free or discounted items can go a long way.
Make a special effort to reward an employee — if only with recognition — if someone in his or her social graph becomes a customer.
Hand over temporary control
Alex Putman, founder of employer branding firm Splice, believes businesses can benefit from an employee taking over the business’s social media accounts for a day or a few days, which allows followers to view the business from their eyes. It also adds an additional layer of personalization to the business’s public profile.
Putman suggested igniting the effort by adding a competitive element. Have different employees take turns managing the social media accounts and run an internal contest: Whoever gets the most likes/shares/comments/favorites/snaps gets a $25 gift card, half-day off or some other reward.
An added benefit to this approach: You can see what sort of content performed the best.
Do unto others
These days, fostering the right workplace environment is key to keeping employees, especially millennials, happy. And happy employees are your best promoters.
Business owners should create an open culture that welcomes employees’ insights and feedback and shows respect for their concerns, said Putman.
“If the owner is a jerk, guess what, the employees will not promote the business for free or a fee,” Putman said. And unhappy employees who leave to work elsewhere may have no problem publishing negative comments about your business.
Said Ordioni, “By creating a workforce of employees who believe in your products/services and are committed to your business objectives, each member of your staff can build brand equity and add revenue to your bottom line.”