Companies now are rethinking how they connect with the marketplace and now more than ever, brands around the world are realising the importance of having employees on the frontline of their marketing efforts as brand advocates. Hootsuite define a brand advocate as “A person who talks favorably about a brand or product and then passes on positive word of mouth messages about the brand to other people”.
Brand advocacy programmes are becoming a common practice in many businesses. Companies are realising their employees are an untapped source of brand advocacy. It is an organisations brand which is one of its most valuable assets and it is what sets it apart from its competitors. the brand promise that a business makes to consumers is not only delivered through its service or products , but also through the behaviors of the staff, or brand advocates, who represent the brand with every move, every day of the week.
Research has found that employees are trusted by the consumer twice as much as a chief executive. The way that businesses engage with customers and how they carry out customer service is ever changing. Companies must scale, train and activate employees to build long term relationships with customers and prospects.
One of the best exampleas 0f a brand advocacy programme is Dell. In a recent Incite Group article on brand advocates they spoke with , the former Social Media and Community Director at Dell explained: “In 2009 Dell created a small center of excellence team, Social Media and Community (SMaC), responsible for Dell’s governance, training, best practices, analytics, innovation and overall strategic use of social media across Dell.”
“In 2010, Dell’s SMaC team launched Social Media and Community University (SMaC U) a training and certification program open to all employees to understand Dell’s social media strategy, governance, best practices and how to use social to better serve our customers. Through certification our employees are enabled to represent the Dell brand online and connect with customers based on their area of expertise.”
Third Level Education and Employee Advocacy
In the last number of years 3rd level education institutes have adopted Social Media as an important aspect of their marketing efforts. My colleague Danny wrote a great blog about it which you should check out ‘How Colleges Can Use Social Media’. A number of Universities and Colleges have followed in the footsteps of the business world and have taken steps to create their own brand advocates. No matter what country you are in, third level education is big business. Students travel thousands of miles to study in different states, countries and continents. Reaching these students is a high priority for most administrative bodies within Universities. Universities have hundreds of staff including lecturers, tutors and administrators. Being able to tap into their various network’s and giving them influence is very powerful when it comes to reputation and also encoraging students to choose that University as a place of study. Not only this but it allows staff to stay in touch with future, current and former students.
1) Cost effective
2) People Trust information from their networks.
3) The number one advocates for your brand are the ones who understand it and rely on its success.
4) Transparency speaks volumes about the way your University is run.
5) Added Value
6) Wider Audience Reach
Why university staff are perfect
Who knows more about a University, College or Institute than the people who work there day in and day out. The people that engage students and propel them to the next level of their careers. The people who are the backbone of the institute, who come to work there every day and are in the know about everything that is happening.
Lecturers are some of the most trusted people in society. We trust them to educate our children which is one of the greatest responsibilities we can bestow upon an individual. They have the inside track on all things happening at their place of work. Whether people like it or not, social media is the place to be. The figures speak for themselves, students of all ages spend an awful lot of time on social media. Their decisions are now influenced by what they see online.
Why they should care
Like business, third level education is a competitive area. There is always a great level of pride amongst Colleges, Universities and staff. Competition is healthy and an opportunity to stand out from the crowd is often grabbed with both hands. Having staff on the front line as advocates increases awareness and gives the college or university a greater level of brand authority. If you work somewhere week in and week out you want that place to be as successful as possible. Employees have the chance to have fun with social media, using content and the right tone to reach a large audience of alumni, current and future students. Who better to tell the world about how great the college or University is than the people who spend most of their time there. Platforms such as Instagram, Youtube, Vine, Twitter and Facebook are typically where college student’s hang out online. From video, pictures, gifs, and live-streaming, staff have numerous ways to showcase their campus, events, promotions and courses to the online community.
If you are a staff member in a College, University or 3rd level institute and you are reading this then I hope you can see the value you can bring to your place of work through the power of social media. You have a large audience including students, staff, perspective students, peers, visitors and other organisations. Social media is a perfect platform for you to advertise events/services, respond to queries, interact in the classroom or create groups/lists for classes.
How Can This be Achieved.
It is the responsibility of the employer, in this case the 3rd level institute to get the ball rolling. First they must educate staff about social media, its benefits and how to utilize it properly. What works best is providing training so staff fully understand it from the very beginning. Having a social media presence is one thing, but understanding it is another. There are so many tools, resources and best practices which can be used to get the most from it. Here at Bluechief we provide social media staff training to a number of colleges and universities here in Ireland. The feedback has always been really positive. Training of this nature is vital to achieve success on social media.
No employee advocacy program can be complete without a social media policy. This should be created by the employer and it will provide guidelines for staff to stick to, which ensures they represent the college/university in a professional manner. We also help create social media policies for colleges and universities.
If you would be interested in hearing more about what we do here at BlueChief please get in touch HERE.