Who doesn’t remember the old Beatles classic “With a Little Help from My Friends?” I can hear that tune and Ringo Star singing the lyrics in my head, can’t you?
“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.
Mmm, I get high with a little help from my friends.
Gonna try with a little help from my friends.”
While “getting high” doesn’t necessarily correlate to good business practices (guess it depends how you interpret), the other two lines certainly do—getting a little help from your friends. And there is a group of people in any organization who could be considered friends of your business, right? Those who know your business almost as well as you do. Your employees, of course! That’s why its very important to cultivate a business culture that encourages your employees to feel connected with your brand. They should feel so connected, in fact, that they want to, or easily be encouraged to, share about you to their friends and family. And not just in face-to-face conversations, but with online content. But how do we accomplish that?
In today’s digital environment, we already know that customer experience often turns into content, which can be a double-edged sword if that experience is less than exemplary. Because online customer-generated content is something we cannot control, it can be a bit scary. Sometimes so scary that we want to reign in what we CAN control—what our employees say about us online.
It’s All About Relationships
For years I’ve been talking about building advocacy with customers through better customer service, because it’s a natural thing to want to share our experiences. Why not make them great experiences? I’ve also talked about building employee advocacy by Empowering your Employees to Power your Brand. Forward thinking brands help their staff create safe, valuable, online profiles, help them build their own brands on social media, and don’t shut them out of social platforms on the job, but clarify their online policies so employees know what they should or shouldn’t share about their company. Whether we’re talking about customers or employees generating online content, the underpinnings are the same—build loyal, trusting relationships, right? However, it’s also important to share good tools for building that content.
Make it Easy for Them
You might have some employees who are good writers, and you can encourage them to contribute content to your blog (or their own). You might have some that are Twitter or Facebook or Instagram power-users (or even just casual users), and you can definitely encourage them to post interesting things about your company. For instance, you can have your marketing team craft informative or fun-fact posts about your brand, share your charity work or upcoming news items, etc., and encourage your employees to share those posts on their personal profiles if they like. Pre-creating content is a way to make social sharing easy. However, I think one of the BEST ways to empower your employees is to give them tools to be creative themselves.
Empower Creativity with Images
Just about anyone with a social profile likes to share images or videos they take on their phone, and people love to view them. Why not empower your employees to share this kind of content? One way to make it easy is to give them a tool like Photofy to create fun, interesting content from their phones that can be shared on any social profile. Another way to make it easy is to encourage creativity and reward it.
How about announcing a weekly themed image contest? Let’s say you have a new line coming up that will be released soon. Why not encourage employees to take photos or use stock images to come up with a social meme or a poster that exemplifies a word associated with that line? An app like Photofy can make it possible to create stunning images with text overlays, brand approved logos, etc., and makes it super-easy to do it on the fly (when inspiration comes)… Easy to create beautiful Branded Content in under 30 seconds… @PhotofyApp #Photofy
Have Fun Rewarding Participants
Encouragement can come in the form of a reward for employees who participate with something fun (do a survey of your staff to think up a list of appropriate rewards). Re-sharing the images they post on their social profiles, and/or creating an employee creativity gallery can also encourage involvement. Who doesn’t like to be recognized? Even something as simple as “crowning” a person as creative King or Queen for a day could be a fun way to develop an encouraging environment.
The Benefits Can be Exponential
The benefits of developing an employee advocacy program that encourages image content development and sharing can be far reaching. You know the benefits of consumer advocacy online—just think of how many more people you can reach with a little help from your employee friends. They know your company, they know your product, and they have social audiences that can extend your reach exponentially.
The power of image sharing is growing by leaps and bounds and is an easy way for employees to help you grow your brand. Give them a little help to get going, and they will help you back by creating content at scale, growing your brand’s perceived value and heightening SEO, all without breaking the bank! Building employee relationships that help you grow as a brand AND helps your employees feel connected and appreciated… that’s a win-win in my book. All you need is a little help from your friends!