Next to customers who rave about a brand to their friends and family and influencers with loyal followers, employees who are evangelists for a brand they work for can be most effective and credible. The pandemic produced interesting marketing results by revealing that younger generations were willing to dump their brands if they didn’t agree with its values and ethics. It also revealed that consumer patience was shorter and that brand sites had to be quicker and nimbler. Internal public relations helps with employees as brand evangelists.
Other discoveries reported that ads were not as effective as they had been in pre-pandemic times. The common denominator for trust in brands has come down to personal relationships. Although employees have a vested interest in their employer doing well, consumers trust that workers who advocate do so because they’re proud of their work.
Last year, the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) reiterated a position it had taken four years earlier that brands that empower their employees as brand evangelists have much greater potential to reach new audiences. Citing research by JEM Consulting, SCNR went on to say that brands with employee advocacy programs of a thousand participants produce nearly $2 million in advertising value alone.
What was also revealing is that when employees post their brand messages on social media, SCNR said employees have ten times more reach than if the brand posted it. In addition, it’s 25 times more likely to be reshared. The same JEM survey showed that 41 percent of the people polled felt that employee statements were the most credible information sources from specialists familiar with the brand.
Brand recognition is also heightened by employee brand evangelists. JEM reported that 65% of brands surveyed said brand name recognition had heightened just because of employees. Brand awareness is particularly important for B2B brands in helping to increase lead conversions.
What it takes
Brand evangelism today is more than employees pitching their brand. To be effective, employees must be given the authority and voice to speak for their brand. This can be difficult for some companies because it means relinquishing total control of content and messaging to workers. However, by properly providing employees with the right content and suggestions, success can be found right around the corner. It’s important that the content is accurate but that the actual words are those of employees.
Who can (or should) speak
Any brand evangelism program must be inclusive and open to all. Some workers may be better positioned to speak as subject experts than others. This is where it’s important to classify employees in separate groups based on their skill sets. Each group has its own persona. Providing each with suggested talking points based on their expertise but which they can reframe in their own words is important.
In addition to empowering employees who wish to be brand evangelists, sharing vital information with them helps them better understand and appreciate their role in the company. JEM found that only 40 percent of employees could describe what their employer did. Seventy-four percent said they were lacking and missing out on company information. A brand evangelist program will not only address this but also improve morale and loyalty.
Before launching a program, brands must ensure that everyone who’s onboard has the training to deliver their messages on the social media platforms they’ll be using. Once that’s accomplished, brands must measure their results. These should be both internal and external.
Internally, the company should track the number of employees participating. Web and content traffic and performance before and after must also be measured as well as social media impressions. Externally, revenue and ROI before and after, as well as conversion rates and leads generated, need to be measured. Above all, every employee who participates must be thanked often and kept informed of these same results.