One important category of influencers often overlooked: the people who work in your company. These internal influencers, employee advocates, are closer to your products and services than anyone else. When they say something online, the audience they reach trusts their messages.
Because your employees live your brand, when they use their online assets and social networks they can generate a tremendous amount of positive exposure for you.
It doesn’t matter if you have a company of 10 employees or 10,000. You want to engage these people to share their love of what they do, and the products and services they represent, with the online world. You might have an online star and not even know it.
This is a new idea for many companies. In fact, some companies try hard to prevent employees from seeing or using social media. This is not only impossible, it's counterproductive. Employees are an essential aspect of your digital marketing strategy.
There are two pieces to this puzzle. First, you need to listen. You need to find out who in your company is currently an influencer or advocate. And what are they saying?
We need to look at the new way of doing business. In the old model the CEO would say, “find me a list of internal and external influencers.” It makes sense, but it doesn’t work that way. You need to listen to what people are saying to decide who should be your spokesperson. Not everyone can. And good spokespeople may have small networks, which can be okay.
Indeed, when you look at the social networks that people have they often fall into one of two categories. One type of person has a very large network. Thousands of friends in all sorts of geographic locations, with diverse interests. A second type is the person who has a small network, but it is very focused ... perhaps 200 people who love music, or skiing, or cooking. Both can be useful.
If you have 100 employees, the number of people who could be contacted via social networks could easily reach 500,000. Can you imagine how helpful that could be with new product launches ... or crisis communications?
The second thing you want to do is engage employees in online dialogue to create a powerful social marketing engine. Not surprisingly, a number of companies provide online services and software tools to help you with the entire process. Identify, engage, and monitor the use of social media by your employees.
GaggleAMP is one example. Their system helps you see who is sharing content and is active on social media on behalf of your company and brands. They also make it easy to measure the impact of employee-generated content.
They have discovered something else: Employees who are most active with online dialogue tend to display pride, ambition, and happiness. Therefore, one gauge of employee satisfaction is their online engagement, which corresponds to their emotional commitment to the organization.
This shows that online engagement is a two-way street that connects employees to their jobs and their networks. Your brands benefit from the interaction, and you can learn about and enhance employee satisfaction.
This post is part of the Transformative Digital Marketing series, which features excerpts from the Amazon best-selling book (of the same name) written by the co-founders of Room 214.