22 October 2014

Are staff your best brand ambassadors?

Happy, engaged staff can be your best brand ambassadors and source of new customers by sharing positive opinions and news about your company.

Word-of-mouth recommendations are trusted much more than any adverts or marketing efforts you create for your business. According to Nielsen, people are twice as likely to trust recommendations from people they know (84%) than banner ads (42%). Therefore, it makes sense to encourage brand ambassadors – people who recommend your products (either directly or indirectly).

Brand ambassadors are people who spread the word about your business and embody the ethos of your company. Traditionally, businesses have looked to their customers to be their brand ambassadors. This makes sense, as they have knowledge of your services and can give their own experiences as to why they’d recommend you. However, in a time when a large proportion of recommendations are made online, customers may not be your best bet.

Customers as brand ambassadors

According to a recent survey by WPP, people don’t follow brands to hear about their latest products or to be friends; they want free stuff. The study questioned 9,000 people across 15 countries and found that:

  • 40% didn’t see the point of ‘friending’ a brand on social media (63% in the UK)
  • 37% of respondents wanted brands to respond to their comments and feedback, regardless of whether it was positive or negative
  • 40% said it was important that they could choose how and when to communicate with brands.

The study deduced that people want to be able to engage with a brand through their social profiles if they have a question or complaint. They also want to see the experiences of other users – often to help them with their purchasing decisions.

A number of your customers may become your brand advocates – posting positive messages or pictures about your products and services, but you can’t rely on this, particularly if your products or services are not the type to garner excitement.

Are staff better ambassadors?

Some studies have suggested that your staff could be your best brand ambassadors. They should know your company better than your customers and the kind of business you’re trying to attract. Therefore, they can spread the right messages for you, whether it’s for staff recruitment, recommending your products or defending your business. And as they’re real people, their opinions are more likely to be perceived as genuine.

Here are some ways you can encourage your staff to be ambassadors for your business.

Engage with your staff. To be brand ambassadors, your employees have to feel valued and satisfied in their job as well as be informed about what the company is doing and where it is going. This all starts with good communication. According to research from Weber Shandwick, less than 30% of employees feel like they are being kept in the loop, listened to and communicated with adequately. This is often not a lack of communication, but a lack of effective communication. From the research, written communication; in particular email, turned out to be the preferred communication method, which correlates with the findings of a study by V1, an automation software provider.   

Take a look at the Weber Shandwick report Employees Rising. It’s an informative read, covering what encourages employee activism and the types of staff that are likely to be your best brand advocates.   

Make it as easy as possible. Create a culture where it’s ok for staff to use social media (although it’s wise to have a social media policy in place) and ensure they have access at work. Provide message about your business that staff can use. Give them the option of training or provide tips, as some may be more comfortable than others posting on social media.

Recognise brand advocates. By recognising them publicly within your company, you’re encouraging them to continue living your brand and encouraging others to do the same. We do this at Bizspace using our values. Staff can nominate colleagues based on how they are demonstrating our values and these are announced each quarter. This instils a sense of pride in those who have been nominated and recognised for their good work.