WEDNESDAY 6 MAY 2020 10:55 AM


Catherine Adenle, director of employer brand at Elsevier writes about the potential of engaging with employees as internal brand ambassadors as a way to earn brand trust and grow brands.

“Every organization is a media organization because there are stories to be told,” says Andrew Heyward, former president of CBS News.

As an organization, who can tell your human stories in an authentic manner to resonate with people from all walks of life and motivate them more than your own employees? The straight answer to this question is simple, no one can. As consumer expectations evolve, is there any guarantee that your brand is set for success? Is it building excitement and creating a sense of belonging? Will it simply survive or thrive in a competitive sea of brands?

Your brand marketers are within your walls

The greatest opportunities to quickly earn brand trust is by engaging, training and unleashing the combined powers of some of your enthusiastic employees as internal brand ambassadors and external brand evangelists. These are the people who will showcase and grow your brand.

The extraordinary powers that you need to unleash are sitting right there with your employees within the walls of your own organization. They are amazing marketers of your brand and can influence it with storytelling.

Employers in multiple sectors realize the importance of highlighting organization culture and benefits to attract top talent. In fact, 94% of candidates would consider an employer’s brand when applying for jobs and 45% of passive job seekers would apply for a job if it was to work for an amazing brand. According to LinkedIn, “candidates trust the organization’s employees three times more than the organization itself to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there.” The Edelman Trust Barometer also opined that people trust employees an average of 16 points more than they trust CEOs on a variety of organization topics. According to their survey, 60% of respondents said they trusted “a person like yourself,” more than they trust a CEO.

Another great reason to make use of your employees’ combined storytelling powers is the Harris Interactive Survey for Glassdoor which states that “67% of employers believe retention rates would be higher if candidates had a clearer picture of what to expect about working at an organization before taking the job.”

Engage your employees to effectively connect your brand to your target audience

Great brands are adept at looking to their employees to express what’s great about their brand. By utilizing their employees as storytellers to effectively communicate their value, these brands show they trust and are invested in their people, while also gaining targeted audience trust. As Microsoft, Southwest, and Adobe have shown over the years, trusting employees to express themselves in their own tone of voice creates its own positive employer brand or brand ecosystem of stories over time.

To create a  great human connection to external audiences, your employees’ stories and how they highlight your organization’s successes will build authenticity, give an identity for your brand, and will undoubtedly shape and strengthen your work culture. What these ambassadors share online becomes the sturdy scaffolding that will help uphold your internal culture and external brand perception.

How do you unleash the extraordinary powers of your employees as ambassadors?

There are stories already in your workplace, start to harvest them. Start to note the kind of stories that are publicly shaping your brand sentiment by listening to online social chatter.

Understanding your brand perception by your employees through the rigor you must have applied to research your EVP will help the ambassadors to effectively understand their own organization’s brand perception on a deeper level.

To engage your employees to become your brand ambassadors and tell your stories, it is vital to approach the plan strategically to ensure that whatever you do enhances and reinforces the overall desired work culture of your business.

1. First, create a culture that will make employees want to become your organization’s brand ambassador.

2. Identify your true fans at various levels throughout your organization. These are employees who are living your values and are already active online. They are the ones usually enthusiastic about sharing your organization’s success stories.

3. Clearly state what’s in it for the brand ambassadors - it helps their own brand and allows them to widen their network broadly.  It helps their professional development and they’re also playing a vital role in your organisation’s success.

4. Promote the art of storytelling and its advantages to these employees.

5. Share your plan and the samples of stories and images that will resonate with your target audience and have the most impact on your organisations’ strategic priorities and brand.

6. Empower the ambassadors through focused effective communication, content and social media training.  Provide needed guidance so they tell credible and relatable stories.

7. Get them to be comfortable storytellers. Make it safe for the ambassadors to open up about their unique experiences within the organisation. Encourage constant employee-generated digital content such as pictures, videos, quotes, polls, etc.

8. Provide a platform from where these great stories about your organisation can be curated and readily  shared online by them and other employees. Give them the power to curate apt content.

9. Monitor and measure the value of these employees' stories. Reward and acknowledge their efforts.

10.Make being brand ambassadors fun.

The goal for your organisation will be to make this initiative inclusive by involving over 90% of your willing employees later on in the process, to create a large ecosystem of content as well as reach millions of people worldwide via their global networks. It will help their professional development and contribute to your organisation’s success.

Your employees are the windows through which others will look into and know your brand. It is essential that you connect with them and empower them to communicate why you are an employer of choice, a great organisation, and one to do business with. By utilising meaningful stories that come straight from your employees, your employer brand will be built in an authentic way that persuades the right candidates with the right fit to act and apply for a role in your organisation. Rather than telling potential candidates and others who you are, let your own employees show them who you are. This way, they’ll be more likely to listen.