Challenges to encouraging employees to act as brand evangelists

Have you been hesitant to ask your employees to act as your brand’s storytellers, promoting your company and its products to friends, professional peers and family? Many organizations have been slow to allow their employees access to social media at work. This reluctance places your brand at a competitive disadvantage. Let’s look at the possible reasons your team is slow to the social media trough.

Business owners nationwide were astounded when The New York Times reported that two Domino’s Pizza employees deliberately mishandled customers’ food orders in the restaurant’s kitchen, then posted the video of their grotesque pranks online. Within two days, thanks to the power of social media, more than a million disgusted viewers had watched the video, and Domino’s faced a public relations crisis. References to the prank were in five of the top 12 results of Google searches for “Dominos,” and discussions about it had spread throughout the internet.

“We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea,” said a Domino’s spokesman, Tim McIntyre, in a press release. “Even people who’ve been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino’s, and that’s not fair.”

 The knowledge that similar social media pranks could be hatched in other companies worried communications professionals worldwide. Unfortunately, this fear has often led to a current line of strict corporate social media policies that hinder employee participation.

By contrast, Apple has actively empowered its employees to be brand evangelists. At any Apple store, the number of employees wandering  the retail space is astounding. Each one of them is an Apple genius whose goals are to educate customers, respond to concerns and share knowledge. What’s missing is the irritating  hard sell approach. The employee’s focus is to put a “face” on the Apple brand, and convert a shopping trip into an interactive experience.

So how can your company avoid the “domino effect” of negative viral media, and instead emulate Apple’s user-friendly brand evangelism? First, develop a program designed to give employees what they need to confidently and appropriately serve as brand evangelists across the internet. Make sure certain social media policies are instated and properly conveyed, clearly outlining employee obligations and policies when they’re using social media in the workplace.

Next, establish easy paths to attain company information so your team is well-equipped to convey your message. Your employees may not officially be marketing or communications specialists, but they can still represent your company and increase your sales and customer loyalty through their online communications.

Finally, offer instruction on social media so that your team knows the correct way to use it. While many of your employees will already be comfortable with social networking, some of your employees may benefit from assistance in the early stages of your social media program. Connecting your team to social media while at work—and good direction in how to use it—will help you get a jumpstart on your competition!

 

Next post we’ll discuss tools and solutions for social media management with a focus on curating and collecting great content. What content would really help your team?