Up until a few years ago, a great deal of this duty was left in the hands of renowned prestige celebrities or personalities, who sometimes were already staff members. They acted as brand ambassadors, a mission that has become increasingly effective thanks to the development of new information technologies, and social media in particular. The latter have proven to be an extremely useful tool for organizations in order to promote their brands, products and services, increase people’s awareness and, consequently, boost sales.
However, William Arruda, considered as one of the gurus of personal branding in the United States, points out that “the most remarkable corporate leaders are realizing that, despite conventional wisdom, strong brands are not created by Marketing departments. Every employee in every department has a role to play”.
A good reason to turn a company’s professionals into brand ambassadors is the bigger influence employees social media accounts have in comparison to corporate ones. According to a study conducted by Nielsen in 2015, 83% of the more than 30 000 consumers from 60 countries interviewed admitted that, when deciding whether to make a purchase, they trust the recommendations of friends, family and colleagues or fellow students more than other forms of marketing. Hence the importance of, as Adobe’s Marketing Manager Bridget Roman points out, mobilizing the whole human capital as “brand evangelists” through social media.
Once the managers of an organization become aware of the need to have their professionals act as brand ambassadors, this is not a goal that will be achieved overnight, however. It requires previous work in which HR departments have a lot to say.
Keys to being a good brand ambassador
One of the keys is that the aforementioned brand-ambassador policy is not deployed abruptly and universally within a company, but gradually instead. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, bets on identifying first the staff members who are “most receptive” to use their social media to promote the brand. “Once they’re trained to use their professional or personal brand profiles, they’ll lead by example other colleagues inside the organization”. It would be also interesting to conduct an internal survey on how they use those social media and to ask if they’d be willing to create a brand account.
Another fundamental aspect when creating a network of brand ambassadors is, as pointed out by personal branding expert Guillem Recolons, to make inside brand knowledge a priority. In this sense, he asks “How can a work team transfer the corporate ‘promise’ into the market if they don’t know what is it about? Those in charge within the company have the duty to ‘educate’ the team about everything related to the brand”.
A professional should be more open to act as a brand ambassador if he’s satisfied and proud of the organization he’s developing his career within. That is why this strategy “is directly linked to multiple factors: management quality, internal communication, corporate ethics, the way people and working atmosphere are taken care of, etc.”, he says.
Experts also place their bet on having technology as an ally in this branding strategy. In fact, there are several Apps and platforms in the market, such as LinkedIn’s Elevate, which facilitate corporate brand diplomacy by relying on tools oriented to share quality content.
The figure of a brand ambassador becomes of great importance in terms of talent attraction. So much so that it is one of the stages of Inbound Talent, one of the latest trends in attraction of professional excellence which HR departments are paying greater attention to in recent times.
In addition, this brand-ambassador policy also contributes to enhance inner commitment towards the company, as highlighted by Social Reacher’s CEO and co-founder Ismael El-Qudsi, who claims that even if one of the main advantages of brand ambassadoris that companies manage to widen the reach of their publications on social media successfully, the most important thing is that when staff members are asked about their thoughts on acting as brand ambassadors, most of them feel that their bond and engagement with the company they work for are “stronger“.
Sources: Forbes, Soymimarca.com, América Economía and Lead Your Market