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Make Employees Your Brand Cheerleaders

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Several months ago we talked about encouraging your store employees to be your brand advocates. Recently, Altimeter Group released a study on this fast-growing social business program and what many retailers are now focusing on.

Respondents from companies with more than 250 employees cited top reasons for their investment in employee advocacy programs:

  • Increasing the reach of messages in social networks (awareness): 54%
  • Driving increased understanding and brand health of the organization: 47%
  • Engaging employees more deeply in the company mission and their work: 43%
  • Providing customers a better experience with the brand: 43%

Employee advocates are some of the best social marketers out there. Those folks you hire to sell your products and services can really help to create brand loyalty. They can generate brand awareness, new engagement, and new sales.

Cisco’s research shows that employees have 10 times more followers than corporate social accounts and that a 12% increase in brand advocacy generally results in a two-fold increase in revenue growth.

Employee advocates have the opportunity to share store/company content on social media, in turn, motivating their network to engage with store content. They can truly influence your traffic and sales.

You can even provide them content to post and brag about. With the right culture, your employees are there because they want to be, and as a result, they can be one of your biggest assets.

Think about Lululemon. At this activewear retailer, employees are encouraged to live and breathe an active lifestyle that aligns with the brand and reflects the business. Sales staff members are referred to as “educators” and are trained to ensure customers can visit a shop not only to find the right fitness apparel, but to also be inspired to live an active lifestyle.

Fashion retailer Artizia has a great strategy of working with its employees to help them become style influencers on social channels. By providing clothing and personal recognition to employees wearing Aritzia clothing through its own social pages, the brand is able to help build lasting relationships with key employees while assisting in the creation of authentic content that strikes a chord with the target audience.

And then there’s Apple. Its “genius” team’s purpose is to communicate with customers, answer questions and share knowledge on a one-on-one basis. But you never get a hard sell. The focus is on providing helpful, useful information and by doing just that, each employee puts a face on the Apple brand and turns a shopping outing into a winning experience that often further engenders brand loyalty and sales.

Employees who feel a sense of pride about their company are more likely to organically share those feelings across social channels, resulting in authentic brand advocacy that is hard to match.

You can create your own “genius” team by guiding your employees through your store’s social media policies and involving them in the process. Identifying your employees’ social temperament, ideas on what to share and what not to share on personal as well as corporate social channels, is very beneficial in developing a loyal team relationship that will boost your image.

Many top brands offer their employees social media training and an advocate-marketing platform that enables them to share brand-approved content. Support from management is a critical part of the process, because when leadership is involved, more employees are likely to participate.

Employee advocacy can truly drive results that go beyond ROI. Many Fortune 50 brands have used their advocacy programs to drive revenue, increase social engagements, drive website traffic, increase brand awareness and attract top talent.

Retailers should think about investing in their staff to help them build a personal brand. In return, they may build an internal organization that will search, communicate, connect and share content that will in turn support your bigger goals of attracting customers and building sales.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers,
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