WEDNESDAY 29 MAR 2017 9:35 AM

INSPIRING BRAND AMBASSADORS

Nowadays, any employee can log into their social media accounts and share information about their workplace, opening the floor to authentic conversation about companies from the inside out. However, often a lack of employee engagement or encouragement prevents them from becoming an active advocate. According to research published by Portland, a global strategic communications consultancy, an employee is a company’s best ambassador.

Portland surveyed over 2,000 employees across the US and the UK in a wide range of industries, seniority and company size. The research found that while eight in 10 employees say they would share positive aspects about their workplace on social media, fewer than one in 10 actually do so. The agency has also published a guide – ‘Creating Employee Advocates’ – on the role of internal communications for employers, and how they inspire advocates to improve the perception of their brand and create a competitive business advantage.

In the guide, Portland separates employees into five different groups based on the likelihood of them becoming advocates, an approach companies may find helpful in harnessing their most vocal ambassadors. The groups on the spectrum include detractors, employees who are not proud of their employer and will spread negativity, silent supporters, those who are less connected to others in their workplace and loose cannons, employees who are willing to speak out but feel unequipped to do so.

“We know from our research that the majority of employees are willing to share positive aspects of their work, but very few do,” says director at Portland, Siobhan Newmarch. “Employees are connected to social networks larger and deeper than the organisations they work for. As levels of public trust for corporations, politicians and the media continues to erode, this makes employees more important than ever before in shaping an organisation’s positive reputation. Employers need to think about what is preventing their employees from being ambassadors; and how to empower them to become advocates.”

Portland’s research shows that while almost nine in 10 employees are proud of the work their company does, only five percent share company news on social media. The agency highlights the need for companies to invest in the untapped potential of advocates and offer them tools and encouragement to help them on the path to employee advocacy. Portland suggests from its findings that a strong internal communication strategy is the first step in cultivating an army of brand ambassadors who share positivity about their company, internally and externally.  Looking beyond their inside understanding of the business, employees are connected to social networks beyond the walls of the company, and in a ‘post-truth’ society they are powerful assets as influencers – spokespeople companies should invest in.

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