Employees are so much more than paid workers – they are ambassadors for your brand and everything that your business stands for. As members of your company, they are closely acquainted with the products or services that you offer, as well as being keenly aware of your customers’ needs. And this second part is particularly important, because as every good marketer knows, effective content and social media marketing ultimately comes down to providing value for the customer. So who better to get involved in this process than your own staff? Here are seven ways to involve your employees in your marketing efforts, for better results.
Be Clear About Your Goals
Before you hand over any sort of marketing task to your general workforce, make sure they are clear about the following:
- Your company vision
- Short and long-term goals
- What success looks like for you
- The fundamentals of good marketing
Run over what the company is already doing in terms of its general marketing efforts. Do you create and promote company content? Are you active on social media? What has been successful so far? Give your employees a starting platform to work from.
Since your employees are already familiar with your customers and target audience, this is a good stage to elicit feedback from them before planning your next marketing campaign. Have an informal discussion and ask for ideas on how the team can (or would like to) contribute. From this, you can set out reasonable guidelines for them to follow.
Keep All Communication Centralized
If you have a team of people all working together on one project, e.g. a marketing campaign, then for it to run seamlessly, everyone has to be on the same page. This is difficult to achieve if each person is using a different tool or method of organizing themselves. So at the outset, it’s best to choose one tool that works well for the project at hand, and get everyone to do the same. That way, all chats, notes, files and folders are stored and accessible in one place.
Slack is a great example, as it allows you to notify individual groups, as well as the team as a whole. Slack also has a mobile app, so it’s super convenient and keeps everybody up-to-date. Basecamp is another great platform that enables you to keep certain information ‘for company eyes only’ and upload all files and documents for easy communal access.
Put Employees on the Front Line
As ambassadors for your business, encourage your employees to actively engage with your brand online, particularly on social media. If each member of staff is regularly engaging and sharing content from your branded social profiles, you will likely see engagement as a whole increase – that’s just how social algorithms work. While it’s not an excuse for your staff to jump on Facebook all the time, it’s important that they are seen to be proud of where they work.
Here are ways that staff can actively support your company using their personal accounts on social media:
- Sharing or retweeting company posts
- Liking or following each of the company social media accounts
- Engaging with company content, whether it’s a like, a share, or a comment
- Listing the company as their official employer on LinkedIn
- Inviting others to like and follow your company pages
- Soliciting recommendations or reviews, and providing one themselves
Ask Employees for Ideas
Suggestion boxes might seem a little bit ‘old hat’, but they can be a novel way to gather ideas without anyone worrying that they might sound silly. Or why not try Suggestion Ox: the anonymous online suggestion box? There is always room for new ideas in marketing, and even the most outlandish deserve consideration.
Whatever the idea (unless it is clearly a hoax), never reject it outright. Creative thinking is hampered when we worry about having ideas that are ‘wrong’. Try a creative brainstorming session and see what results you get, then laser in on the most popular suggestions and flesh them out some more. Remember to act upon these ideas – if none of them result in any action being taken, your staff will soon lose motivation and stop making suggestions at all.
Open Up Your Blog to Staff Guest Posts
Not everyone at your company will be a natural writer (unless you’re a writing agency), but for those who feel comfortable doing so, consider offering them the chance to write guest posts on the company blog that feature their own author byline. Often when writing on behalf of an employer, workers don’t get to see content published in their own name, so provide that sense of ownership as an incentive. Each employee will have a different specialism and different content ideas to pursue, so make the most of their expertise!
Start by providing them with examples, and make sure they are familiar with the company tone of voice and values. If it isn’t 100% perfect, you can always get an editor to tidy it up once finished. This is a great way to provide branded content on a more regular basis. A blog post can be about anything – even boring topics – as long as it’s relevant.
Create a Social Media Dumping Ground
As the sole social media manager at a company, you can sometimes spend hours trawling the internet looking for interesting articles and tidbits to share. What if you had a repository of suggestions that were constantly being updated? Wouldn’t that make life easier?
Chances are your employees often share things on their own social networks, so encourage them to start actively making a note of anything they see that would be a relevant point of interest for your business, and get them to store these ideas in one place. Trello is an excellent project management tool that works well for this purpose – create a Trello board for all of your social media content and allow it to grow organically. You’ll be surprised at the different angles that employees come up with.
Allow Staff to Speak to Customers On Their Level
A growing trend that’s becoming increasingly popular and effective – particularly for ecommerce stores – is that of customer communication via messaging apps. Since many users already spend a vast amount of time on these apps, and are comfortable using them, it makes a lot of sense to reach out to them there. App-based customer communication is part of a growing industry trend — where marketing is merely a continuation of the conversations already happening between staff and your customers. Marketing doesn’t have to be all that different from great customer service and should be based on interaction, not broadcasting.
If you’re using an online store powered with Shopify, your ecommerce business can use the Facebook Messenger-Shopify integration to help customers with everything from completing a transaction, to sending on tracking details, and of course, further marketing. You can also access the same functionality on WordPress by using a Messenger plugin. This shift to conversational commerce is changing how web environments behave— bringing users and brands closer together.
It’s all about having real conversations and being able to answer customer questions quickly, so they feel confident about making a purchase. While much of it can be automated, having a savvy member of staff on hand to make sure customers feel comfortable and answer any curveballs is a small price to pay for that person’s repeated custom.
If your employees are passionate about their work and your industry, then chances are they are already reading about and staying abreast of the topics that matter. If not, maybe they’re in the wrong job! Ensuring that everyone is well aware of your marketing goals and feels happy to come forward with ideas contributes to a healthy working culture, and a richer and more varied marketing strategy as a result. Sometimes, all it takes is a little nudge.
After 10 years of gathering digital marketing know-how as a consultant, Patrick Foster shares his knowledge with the wider world and helps fellow businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and thrive.