Employees: the new celebrity

In social media there is a lot of talk about building good relationships to turn loyal customers into brand ambassadors. As Peter Shankman says, our job as PR professionals in social media is to get other people to do our PR. However, there’s another audience of brand ambassadors that every company needs to be aware of, and they are right under your nose.

Who are they?
Your employees. These are the people who know your brand inside and out. Every day they go home and talk to friends and family about their experiences with your brand. In my opinion, employees are one of the most important untapped resources every company has. After all, if your employees won’t say good things about your brand, who will?

Puma’s “Employees Only” Campaign
A great example of a company who lets their employees do all the talking is Puma. Puma has started an “Employees Only” campaign that uses 14 handpicked employees to serve as the company’s official brand ambassadors. In addition to plugging Puma products, the employees also share their random thoughts via the company’s Facebook page and YouTube site. Puma is also planning to host in-store events where anyone can grab poster board, write their thoughts and be photographed for their own Facebook profile. In this way, Puma is not only letting employees promote the brand, but takes the idea of brand ambassadors to the next level by turning them into pseudo-celebrities. You can find out more about Puma’s campaign by reading this post at AgencySpy.com.

What can you do?
Right now you may be thinking, “That’s great, but I don’t have a budget like Puma.” Do not fear. Even without a Puma sized budget your employees can still add value to your brand. In fact, the first step you should take is to look at your employees and find out if they are already acting as brand ambassadors.

A girl I went to college with (Amanda) is a great brand ambassador for her employer. She currently works for a new Milwaukee burger bar called Stack’d. How do I know this? It isn’t because of my great cyber-stalking abilities. I know this because Amanda is always encouraging people to stop by for special events and drink specials through messages she posts on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, I’ve found out a lot of information about Stack’d simply by reading her comments in my social media feeds.

So, how do you get more employees like Amanda?
Hire passionate people. – People who are passionate about your business and industry are much more likely to promote your products or services because it’s what they love.

Be good to your employees. – We all have that one person in our life who complains about their boss or company. I like to call these people “brand embarrassers.” Everyone has bad days at the office, but the one way to make sure your employees aren’t bad-mouthing the company is to treat them with respect and give them a fun working environment. Hello casual Fridays, the occasional working-from-home and company happy hours.

Share your goals. – As much as your employees might love their work, they can’t help if they don’t know what your goals are. Be specific about your goals and ask your employees for help. Encourage them to share these messages and promote them on their own social networks. It will make them feel like a bigger part of the company.

Side note: If you do encourage employees to use social media on the company’s behalf, you may want to consider creating a set of social media guidelines. Todd Defren shares a great example of social media guidelines on his blog.

Have you come across other companies that are using employees as brand ambassadors? How do you encourage employees to support your brand? Please leave your ideas in the comments section.


Great post Sarah!

September 2, 2009 at 10:08 AM  

Thanks, Krista. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

September 3, 2009 at 6:43 PM  

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