When you’re looking for ways to improve your branding and reach with consumers, some of your most important assets are (literally) sitting right in front of you: your employee ambassadors.

In some shape or form, all employees have interactions with customers, be it directly (sales and customer service reps) or indirectly (developers, fulfillment workers, and others who are behind the scenes making sure things run smoothly).

And increasingly, customers are looking to employees to understand what a company is all about. In the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Study, employees were seen as the most credible source by the public to report on key business findings—higher than CEOs.

So, how do you ensure your employees are supporting and enhancing your brand in their interactions with customers (and the world at large)? The answer comes in two interrelated parts:

  1. Make sure employees are engaged.
  2. Train them to be brand ambassadors.
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Improving employee engagement

The more excited employees are about your brand, the more engaged they will be. Gallup polls show that companies with highly engaged employees have 3.9 times the earnings per share compared to those in the same industry whose employees are less engaged with their company’s brand.

Improving employee engagement is tightly linked to better communication about your company’s culture. According to research by IBM, 80% of employees felt more engaged when their work was consistent with the core values and mission of their organisation—showing that if employees feel connected to your culture, they’ll be more likely to promote you through various channels.

Creating an employee ambassador program

So, how can you harness your employees’ passion? I’ve found that a good training program for brand ambassadors should include the following five facets.

1. Clear and easily accessible brand content

One Gallup poll showed that 41% of employees don’t know what their company’s branding is, making it significantly harder to get them on board with promoting it. By making your brand’s content available, you’re much more likely to get employees connected with your culture.

During new hire training, be sure to include an overview of your company’s brand, with potential follow-up trainings that focus solely on that message. Then, use an easily accessible content platform to make sure all employees have that content for future use.

2. Tools for success

The easier it is for employees to engage with your brand, the more likely they will be to promote it. So, give them some ready-made items that are easy to promote.

These could be:

  • Hashtags, like Red Bull’s successful #PutACanOnIt
  • Events at which employees can partake in branding, (re)training and learning the company history, like McDonald’s Founder’s Day event
  • Cool branded “swag” that makes employees feel like they are living your brand

These can all be highlighted during onboarding, as well shared at regular intervals with current workers to keep employee engagement high.

3. Employee empowerment

Taking an interest in employees’ personal brands shows their employer cares about them as well as their growth and potential outside of work. Research from Cornell University reveals that employees who can be their “authentic best selves” at work are more productive and more likely to stick around.

Use training to help employees first pinpoint their own personal brand. Ask questions like “What allows you to do your best work?” and “What makes you proud to work at this company?”. This can also help you develop a stronger employer brand, as you work out what employees really love about your company.

4. Dedicated social media brand ambassador training

Today, much brand promotion occurs online via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Training employees to be superb brand ambassadors on social media is a great way to keep a consistent message going at your company.

Plus, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Study, 62% of respondents found a company’s social media more convincing than their advertising, meaning that training employee ambassadors is more important than ever.

The biggest factors in successful social media training for employees are:

  • Including clear guidelines around social media use.
  • Ensuring employees are comfortable with said guidelines.
  • Giving employees space and trusting them to promote your brand in a way that is authentic to them and beneficial to your organization.

By providing this guidance, your brand ambassadors will feel more comfortable being open about your company on social media.

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5. Post-training surveys

There will always be some employees who are better at brand promotion than others, so make sure you’re putting in the effort to find out who they are.

Not only can you highlight their achievements to the company at large, but you can use post-training surveys to find out who is interested in taking further training in brand ambassadorship. This kind of survey can also give you helpful insights on how to improve your employee ambassador program for the next time around.

Your employees are excellent resources to increase your brand promotion. After all, they’re already committed to the company and familiar with its goals.

Increase that commitment and knowledge with brand ambassador training, and you’ll have a workforce that’s ready and willing to spread your company’s good name—in addition to being more motivated, engaged employees.

More resources for improving employee engagement:

This blog was originally posted June 17th, 2016, and was updated May 29, 2017.