We already know that social media is extremely powerful for business communication. Essentially, anyone with an internet connection has the potential to cultivate and grow a brand. Corporate brand, product brand, personal brand, employer brand — the possibilities are limitless.
It’s as easy as flipping on a light switch! Well maybe not that easy, but social channels have blown traditional media out of the water, and there’s no going back.
Of course, with its potential to drive brand development, social proliferation can also have a huge impact on talent acquisition and retention. How does that work? The idea in leveraging social media to grow a brand is through a fan base that we call “brand ambassadors.” Collectively, your ambassador group functions like a marketing and promotional team that amplifies the message for whatever it is that you’re trying to sell — products, services, yourself or your organization.
Employer Brand Ambassadors: What’s the Challenge?
If you’re an employer, which audience should be your biggest, most important source of brand ambassadors? Customers? Industry thought leaders? Local media outlets? Nope — it’s your employees. But do organizations currently view employees this way? Based on my experience in working with HR executives, I struggle to say yes.
We know that social media instantly connects you with the online world, and the most effective way to grow an employer brand is through social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest — the list goes on. So ideally, if employees are your prime brand ambassadors, and social media is the best way to grow your brand, you should be able to say that, when your employees interact with others on social channels, they’re effectively promoting your organization as a great place to work.
Are you confident making that claim? Unfortunately for most employers, the answer seems to be NO!
Enter My Bold Prediction for 2014
With the holiday season upon us, we’re seeing our share of blog posts about HR Technology predictions for 2014. One of many good reads is from Craig Bryant at the TLNT blog, “5 Predictions for Where HR Technology is Going in 2014.”
My key prediction is a tad bold, but here goes: I think that organizations are ready to give their employees the right tools, so they can easily represent the company as brand ambassadors on social media. In other words, employers will actively explore and implement cloud-based solutions that make it simple for employees to curate and share high-quality, on-brand content with their connections.
Why Does This Shift Matter?
The biggest barrier organizations face when integrating social media across business functions is the inability to ensure a consistent, coherent brand message and voice. It’s about mitigating risk and ensuring that employee social media activity creates a net positive impact, and doesn’t result in PR fiascos. (Case in point: HMV employees react to firing on Twitter.)
Organizations that figure out how to remove these barriers so employees can comfortably operate as employer brand ambassadors will see huge gains in all facets of their business. Think about it — if your company has 500 employees, and each employee has an average social media network of 300 people, that’s a direct network of 150,000. All of these 150,000 connections have a network of their own, so before you know it, you’re reaching millions — all because you enabled your inner circle.
Mark my words: 2014 will be a watershed year of “employee enablement.” Organizations will gain momentum by creating and supporting brand ambassadors who come from within their ranks.
There are very few players in this space, but watch for momentum in the year ahead. You’ll want to look at platforms like PostBeyond, Jostle and EveryoneSocial to see how they help organizations support employees as brand ambassadors. Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, 2014 is going to be a milestone year for social HR business tools!
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