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Leverage employees as influencers

This Group of Influencers is Missing From Your Social Strategy

Once a year I visit Hulu and watch a few episodes of the NBC show Kings, a 2008-aired piece about a modern-day total monarchy in a developed country. It was smart, involved, and had some biblical references that made the entire presentation interesting to me.

The prince – Jack has a line midway through an episode as he tries to explain his royal influence to a soldier – David who has been thrust into palace life:

David: “That’s gotta be fun.”

Jack: “What?”

David: “Being you.”

Jack: “My dad has his boardroom, I have this. It’s a mystery…my parents did whatever they did long ago and had me, and now people care what I wear and where I go … like it will rub off and suddenly make them less obscure. It’s something in the way my mom set up the monarchy. They think we’re something other than human.”

Back to the real world now – everyone knows that social media has leveled the playing field for access to celebrity and public figures. Many brands’ social strategies contain a plan for how to activate influencers that have larger audiences than their own channels could reach.  In short, the power of the front page of the New York Times is now more evenly distributed among the many.

For many clients, Raidious proactively monitors streams of conversation for opportunities to engage with public conversation as it happens.  Many software offerings have tried to better automate this process, but we’ll leave that can of worms for another day.

In the quest to rub shoulders with the prince that can make all your marketing dreams come true, marketing teams sometimes forget about the soldiers in their own backyard.

That’s right, your employees. 

Think about it – they people that work for you have the highest amount of engagement with your product, an inside edge on why it’s better or worse than your competition, and the expertise to talk about it intelligently.  (That last piece might be a stretch, I’ll admit).

So why is the employee group often the last to consider when building a campaign? Tyler Clark and I have a few guesses:

1) You feel that they don’t have anything to offer

“That’s not a lot of followers”

I call shenanigans. If and when your employee group isn’t active on social media (at all) then this point might be valid. I venture that’s not the case, and the average of 200 followers/friends per employee just doesn’t rank highly in your judgment.

“They don’t have a good enough reason to share our content”

Give them one. Even if they don’t have a huge following now, consider this a win-win for employee relations and engagement. Encouraging the promotion of company content can be as simple as an e-mail kudos or a corner of the company intranet that recognizes contributions to the marketing program.

The thing to remember is that your employee group has a vested interest in seeing the company marketing programs do well. And even if they don’t care as much about the balance sheet, they should care about their personal brand, even if they don’t know how to build it as well as you might. Teach them. You’ll be surprised how easy novices can pick up the basics.

2) There’s no mystique around your employees

This oversight likely isn’t as apparent to you. Your employees are a known element, but not one that you commonly associate with activating marketing programs.

Why is that?

Promotions that come from employees are subconsciously judged to be less trustworthy and salesy, because the endorsement of your content hasn’t come from an independent source.

The fix?

Focus your content on thought leadership and valuable contributions to your larger community. The goodwill transfers down to your employees, and back to you. All the backs get scratched.

3) There’s no assumed link between employees and consumers

The assumption with PR and influencer marketing is the link between influencers and the intended consumer audience. The added allure of thousands or millions of followers blinds us from more direct paths to our customer.

In short, the bullet that is employee engagement may not be  silver or shiny as others, but it’s already in your pocket .

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